2007 ERA: 1.82
2008 ERA: 1.88
2009 ERA: 1.73
2010 ERA: 1.79
Those are unbelievable numbers. How could I resist? I was in love. Who cares if he plays in Japan? They play real baseball there. Oh, Yu Darvish, do you really throw over 120 pitches routinely? Could you outlast Nolan? I was in Sapporo, I was going to see possibly the best pitcher in the world.
The field was artificial turf and perfectly symmetrical: 328.1 ft down the left field line, 400.3 ft to center, and 328.1 to right field with an abundance of foul ground. It brought back fond memories of my beloved Astrodome. That’s what I noticed first about the Sapporo Dome. I’m not sure exactly what I noticed next. Was it the complete lack of air conditioning? Or was it the 20 foot high outfield walls looming all the way from foul pole to foul pole? Right there is where the legend of the Great Yu Darvish first began to crack.
Ok, so I exaggerated a little… the walls are only 18.9 feet tall according to Wikipedia. Maybe the ball carries really well at the Sapporo Dome, so it needs those massive walls, but it’s 85 feet above sea level which is not exactly Coors Field. Maybe a dome with no AC and stagnant, humid air is conducive to homeruns. I can’t say. It sure as hell isn’t conducive to watching baseball. Does a dome even exist without AC in the US? I’m pretty sure the Astrodome is at 73 degrees to this very day, and no one is even there.
So, truthfully I am angry at Yu Darvish now because he made me sit through an incredibly long game in unpleasant conditions. I would never do such a thing to him. I feel betrayed. Sure, he did manage to pitch a complete game shutout with 11 strikeouts. That’s what I wanted to see him do, but I would have liked him to do it without throwing 149* pitches and walking 2 and giving up 8 hits. Normally I would be amazed to see a pitcher throw 149 pitches, but I was aware that Yu Darvish pitches every Saturday, not every 5 days. But what I wasn’t aware of was the fact that he could take any amount of time between pitches. I used to think MLB was crazy for making such a big deal about the pace of the game but not anymore. In fact, they should have something akin to the shot clock up on the score board, and if it hits zero the batter is awarded a ball. The fans could count down 3, 2, 1…buzzer!
I can’t say how Yu Darvish would do in the MLB. I’m not a scout, and I was tired and jet lagged, and I don’t really know what people mean by ‘projectable.’ But I went from hoping the Astros would pursue him to really not caring. Can he go every 5 days? Can he speed up his game? How much does his home stadium help him out? In the Majors he won’t be able to nibble his way to 150 pitches on the corners of the plate like he is doing now. He’ll walk many more batters and give up some painful homeruns. But on the other hand if he only throws 90-100 pitches an outing, maybe he’ll be able to keep his velocity up around 95-96mph instead of the 93mph that I saw. I really wish he could have gotten me out of that hellish stadium faster. Maybe I would still long for him to pitch for my Astros. Go ahead Yankees and Red Sox, open your checkbooks.
*I'm not sure I read the box score right because it felt like 200.