Japan Professsional Baseball: Balentien sets new single-season home run record: September 15, 2013: Wladimir Balentien of the Yakult Swallows set a new single-season home run record for Japan Professional Baseball, hitting #56 in the first inning off Hanshin pitcher Daiki Enokida for a two-run shot, and then extending his own record with #57, a solo shot (also off Enokida), in the third inning. The former record of 55 had been set by world homerun champion Sadaharu Oh of the Yomiuri Giants in 1964 and then equalled by Tuffy Rhodes (Kintetsu Buffaloes) in 2001 and Alex Cabrera (Seibu Lions) in 2002. Since the end of the 1985 season, when the record was first seriously challenged by Randy Bass (Hanshin Tigers), Oh's mark has sometimes been labelled the phoniest record in professional baseball because of the extent to which Japanese pitcher and coaches had gone to prevent foreign players in particular from surpassing it. Unlike Bass, Rhodes and Cabrera, Balentien's chase has not been frustrated by a similar chain of intentional walks as he has closed in on 55. Further, his accomplishment comes with 19 games still remaining on Yakult's schedule, so it will be interesting to see how far he can extend the new record.
AP source: Yankees tell Reggie to steer clear: The New York Yankees have reportedly order Reggie Jackson to stay out of the Yankee clubhouse and avoid other team events following reports about critical comments he made to Sports Illustrated, questioning the validity of some of Alex Rodriguez's in the wake of Rodriguez's admission to using PEDs. Jackson's comments also questioned the qualifications of Gary Carter, Kirby Puckett, and others for inclusion in the HoF.
Nakase says goal is to coach in the NBA: Natalie Nakase, a third-generation Japanese American and head coach of the Saitama Broncos in Japan's JB-League, is the first female head coach in the male league's history. Nakase, at 5'3", was a point guard during her playing days at UCLA. While she is enjoys the challenges of coaching in the JB-League, Nakase says her ultimate goal is to coach in the NBA.
AP source: Pena, Cubs agree to $10M, 1-year deal: First baseman Carlos Pena and the Chicago Cubs have agreed to a $10 million, one-year contract, a person familiar with the negotiations tells The Associated Press. Pena spent the last four seasons with Tampa Bay. He had a down year in 2010, hitting .196 with 28 homers and 84 RBIs, down from a .227 average with 39 homers and 100 RBIs the previous year, when he was selected for the AL All-Star team.
New to Boxing Hall: Tyson, Chavez ... and Rocky?: Two of boxing's biggest stars of the 1990s are going into the Boxing Hall of Fame. It was no surprise that Mike Tyson and Julio Cesar Chavez, who combined for 157 wins, got the nod. Tyson was the undisputed heavyweight champ while Chavez was a title winner in three divisions. The day's shocker, though, was that the name Sylvester Stallone appeared alongside the boxing legends. That's right, Stallone is going into the BHOF for his contributions to the sport through film. Stallone gained worldwide fame between 1976-2006, playing the fictional character "Rocky Balboa" in six movies. An interesting inclusion, considering the impact the character may have had in reclaiming some popularity for professional boxing at the time. Consider the fact that Abbott and Costello are enshrined in the Baseball Museum at Cooperstown (though NOT the Hall of Fame).
Werth agrees to $126 million, 7-yr deal with Nats: The Washington Nationals signed FA Jayson Werth to a 7-year, $126 million deal. NY Mets new GM expressed his surprise, saying "I thought they were trying to reduce the deficit in Washington." Werth, in the meanwhile, in a conference call said "To just spend money wildly on people is not the point. What we're going to do is create an atmosphere ... of winning...," which begs us to ponder the obvious question: Is a soon-to-be-32-year-old, lifetime .272 batter really "werth" such a long contract that averages $18 mil. per year? (Sorry, I couldn't resist the pun.)
MIchael Vick's Massive Financial Debt: Despite earning $4.1 million since signing with the Philadelphia Eagles Vick lives on a shoestring budget set for him by a court-appointed trustee. Two-thirds of every dollar Vick earns goes to creditors and taxes. The rest of the money is strictly controlled. Think of it as an allowance. Vick can spend $4,250 per month on rent and utilities and $472 per month on a car. His mother, who was on Vick's payroll during his headier, pre-prison days, can receive $2,500 per month. The allowance does allow for Vick to pay $1,355 per month for private school for the two children he has with his fiancee.
MLB/ Posting system snafu embroils Iwakuma: Japanese pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma of the Rakuten Golden Eagles, not yet eligible for free agency under Japanese Professional Baseball (JPB) rules, is seeking this year to move to the Major Leagues through the posting system. Oakland has won the exclusive rights to negotiate with Iwakuma, having tendered a $19 million bid. However, negotiations have broken down, with Iwakuma's agent, Don Nomura, opening the negotiations with a demand of $12 million per annum for a multi-year deal (for a pitcher who has never thrown a pitch in the major leagues), claiming that it is comparable to what the Dodgers are paying Hiroki Kuroda. Oakland, in turn, has countered with a $15.25 million four-year offer (approx. $3.8 million per year), which is about what he is currently making with Rakuten.
MLB/ 'Charlie Hustle' gives Ichiro his due ... but he'd like to see more walks: In an interview marking Ichiro Suzuki's 10th consecutive 200-hits season, Pete Rose offered his assessment of Ichiro's achievement: while acknowledging that "Ichiro's a great hitter" Pete reminded us that "I did it 10 times, but I didn't do it 10 times in a row. And I did 198 twice, too, and I did 192 once, so I guess at the time ... if I knew there was going to be someone challenging that I probably would have worked harder and gotten a couple more hits in those two years." Pointing out the difference in their respective accomplishments, Rose added that "the only negative thing I could ever say about Ichiro, would be this; that Ichiro gets a lot of hits but he doesn't get many walks. OK? So you gotta remember I got all those hits but I got close to 1,600 walks too."