Friday, January 4, 2008
Hideo Nomo still plays baseball
I know, I know, I didn't believe it either, but it's true. The 39-year-old righty and former-Asian-sensation-turned-punchline (kind of like Jackie Chan) has signed a minor league deal with the Kansas City Royals (I'm assuming that the Royals themselves qualify as a minor league team) that includes an option to join spring training.
Back in the day, of course, Nomo was brilliant; besides Ichiro, he is really the player responsible for the currently burgeoning trade in young Japanese stars. He's still the only pitcher ever to have tossed a no-hitter at Coors Field, and I think that was before MLB figured out that they needed to humidify the balls (heh) to make the park less hitter-friendly. I still remember his no-hitter against Baltimore for the Sox in 2001... gather round, children, and I will tell you a tale of the Dark Ages, before the 2004 World Series changed everything, when being a Red Sox fan meant grasping at fleeting moments of glory throughout the season with the knowledge that you would ultimately be doomed to yet another agonizing postseason collapse. It was a different time back then, and that no-hitter was the exhilarating kickoff of one of the more painful baseball seasons I can recall. (Sorry to mix sports metaphors.) In some ways, that 2001 season provides the perfect analogy for Nomo's own career: starting out with such promise, but ending in humiliation and defeat. Nomo currently holds the #1 AND #2 spots for Worst Season ERA among pitchers with more than 80 innings pitched in a season since 2004 (8.25 and 7.24 respectively). Brutal.
So good luck, Hideo!
In other news: The Oakland As' fire sale continues, as Nick Swisher gets shipped to the White Sox for 3 minor leaguers. Billy Beane is a smart man and is clearly laying the foundation for a strong team in the years to come, but he better cross his fingers that his entire pitching staff doesn't get injured again this season. True story: I love the A's because I sat behind their bullpen at the first Fenway game I went to this past season, and after the bullpen catcher (a sexy redhead) finished warming up Chad Gaudin, he walked over and handed me the ball. I was as giddy as a 12-year-old. Here's hoping their trades work out for them.
So do we get Santana, or what?