Fukudome's First Was Fabulous, But He's No Kaz Matsui

Kosuke Fukudome's Cub debut
was so riveting Monday afternoon, it was almost enough to distract from Kerry Wood's ninth-inning failure and the larger disappointment of losing the opener to the Brewers.

But terrific as it was, Fukudome's plate performance didn't quite match up to what one of his countrymen, Kaz Matsui, did when he first took the field for the Mets four years ago. On that evening, Matsui slugged the first pitch in his Major League career 429 feet, well over the center field fence in Atlanta's Turner Field, and set his new team off on a 7-2 season-opening victory. In addition to the homer, Matsui ripped a pair of doubles and walked twice, so he reached base five times in five PA's.

Given the way Matsui eventually stunk up New York, it could be argued that his Met career went straight downhill following that first game.

In any case, here's a review of the most prominent Japanese hitters to cross the Pacific and how they fared in their first regular season games on American soil:

Ichiro, Mariners
MLB Debut: April 2, 2001 v. A's
Went: 2-for-5, including a strikeout and a run scored
Team result: Mariners won 5-4

Hideki Matsui, Yankees
MLB Debut: March 31, 2003 v. Toronto
Went: 1-for-4, with an RBI
Team result: Yankees won 8-4

Kaz Matsui, Mets
MLB Debut: April 6, 2004 v. Atlanta
Went: 3-for-3, including HR, 3 RBI, and a run scored, plus 2 walks
Team result: Mets won 7-2

Tad Iguchi, White Sox
MLB Debut: April 4, 2005 v. Indians
Went: 0-for-4, including a strikeout
Team result: White Sox won 1-0

Kenji Johjima, Mariners
MLB Debut: April 3, 2006 v. Angels
Went: 1-for-3, including HR and a run scored, plus a walk
Team result: Mariners lost 5-4

Akinori Iwamura, Rays
MLB Debut: April 2, 2007 v. Yankees
Went: 1-for-3 with a run scored, plus a walk
Team result: Rays lost 9-5

Kosuke Fukudome, Cubs
MLB Debut: March 31, 2008 v. Brewers
Went: 3-for-3 with a double, game-tying, ninth-inning HR, 3 RBI, and a walk
Team result: Cubs lost 4-3

Of all these players, Iwamura--who manned third base in Tampa last season, but is playing second this year--had the most productive first month in the U.S., hitting .472/.482/961 (OBP/SLG/OPS).

Ichiro went .358/.431/789 in his first month with Seattle; Hideki Matsui, who currently has a lifetime OPS of 856, put up a dismal .320/.364/684 line in his first April with the Yankees.


Here is footage of Fuku's HR from WGN -- check out the fan who caught it -- spilled his beer all over the guy in front of him


Speaking of "rick rolls"...check out this footage of a REALLY BAD canadian television show making fun of the elderly


Well played Crunch

Dude, that gag's tired.

hmmm, you might want to check this link again.

I got Richard Simmons...

NOT April Fools Day!

Stop wasting our time.

not funny.

Whoa boy.

Talk about a sandy vagina...

talk about a weak stab at humor.

Also, a tip of the hat to TCR reader CUBBY, who obviously speaks Japanese and noted in last night's Comments that bleacher fans were holding up Japanese language signs that translated to, "It's a fluke."

Paul Sullivan addressed this in the Tribune today...


...and it's sounds like the signs might have been professionally printed by the "It's Gonna Happen" guy, who either hooked up with a crappy translator or just trusted Babelfish to write the Japanese for him.

why thanks cubnut. im just your average long-suffering fan with no special knowledge of metrics or anatomy, so im glad i was able to contribute (if you can call it that). im an interpreter living in japan btw. and yes, the chunichi fans I know are pissed he left and bitter over his stunning debut. HA!
(theyre loving the “it’s a fluke” thing though. assholes.)

Chunichi fans are to Kosuke as Illinois basketball fans are to Bill Self.

Thanks, CUBBY. Hope you keep reading and updating us

By the way, is there any way to capture the spirit of It's Gonna Happen in Japanese? If not, that guy's Asian t-shirt sales are going to take a big hit.

"Chunichi fans are to Kosuke as Illinois basketball fans are to Bill Self"


Nicely done, CN

lol. I'd love to find out what Fukudome thought when he saw those things. maybe someone can post a youtube video of the signs?

Are you asking to be Rickrolled? Don't taunt Carlos! He's armed!

uhh...thats definitely NOT footage of k-fuks homer. not even close. yeesh.

While I expected it to happen at some point, I didn't expect it this early.

"Already coming off two injury-plagued seasons, Martinez limped away with a strained left hamstring in the fourth inning, after just 57 pitches.

"He said he felt kind of a pop," Mets manager Willie Randolph said."


Hope this isn't 3/44, but King Kaufman linked to a really good article on Brian Bannister:

No, you are not being Rickrolled...

Great article.

yeah, the classic underdog story.

One of these times you guys are gonna post a real link to K-Fuk's homer and E-Man's not gonna click on it. Then you're really gonna be sorry.

That's not funny.

Trans, when are you going to put up the game preview?

Anyone seen a lineup?



I think Cubnut has a preview coming up shortly...

According to Mike Murphy from WSCR, his "insiders" said that Wood drilled Hall for popping off about the Cubs in spring training.

Take this with a large spoon of salt.

I can believe it. I thought it might have been intentional.

It's a really stupid thing to do, obviously. We all know there's no reason to put the leadoff man on in a tie game, but Woody may have been a little too cocky that he could get out of it.

Someone in another thread called Mike North the village idiot of Chicago sports radio. He's second in line; Mike Murphy is first.

This hybrid lovechild explanation of K-Fuk is a pretty good.


finally found a non-profane Fukudome t-shirt that I can wear in front of my kids if anyone is interested. www.fukudomeismyhomie.com. I'm sure they'll still think I'm lame.

Ah, nothing like spam for breakfast.

at least it's on topic spam

Recent comments

The first 600 characters of the last 16 comments, click "View" to see rest of comment.
  • Well said. On one hand, I thought the HBP was a bad baseball play -- down 4 runs, put a runner on for a red-hot Fowler. On the other hand, they needed to do something -- I hadn't thought about the warning/pitching inside point. Is Hurdle that smart? He does not strike me that way. By the way -- not clear which fan base you are referring to in your "first" 3rd point.

  • My unsolicited opinions on topics covered in this thread:
    1. I hate the fact that after 162 games, a team could be out after 1 game. However, I think the system is pretty close to perfect right now. 2 of 3 isn't feasible unless they shorten the regular season, and it ices the division winners for way too long. This creates excitement, and rewards the division winners.

  • Personally, I think the game could have had a very different look had the Pirates held onto the ball and tagged Fowler out on the steal in the first. Cole was clearly frazzled, but if they took that runner off the base, it could have relaxed him a lot.

  • Football games are played once a week. There are 16 games a year. I'm not even remotely following at all how you can compare the two leagues and playoff systems. It is physically impossible to play a home and away series. The idea of not having any road games in baseball playoffs is certainly a head scratcher.

    How is not having the first and last game at home a benefit for the division winners and team with the best record? How is it not an incentive to win the division when a WC team has to blow their top pitcher?

    Call me lost.

  • Two 97+ win teams in a do-or-die, great bullpens, overpowering starters, plenty of pop--hard to believe that game wouldn't be tense. A 4-0 lead is not a blowout, especially in that situation and with the Cubs' young bullpen. Not only would a defensive play here or there make a difference, but you get the win there also on the home plate umps strike zone (generous strike calls for Arrieta, including a couple Ks), and on Schwarber sitting on the right pitch at the right time.

  • Unbeleivable Dodgers:
    I just noticed the Dodger's payroll today. It is just absurd. $300,000,000+!!
    Here is where just some of their money is for 2015:


    Some "Highlights"
    Carl Crawford $20MM
    Brandon McCarthy $17MM
    Bronson Arroyo $3.5MM
    Darwin B $2.2MM
    Dan Haren $10MM
    Matt Kemp $18MM
    Brian Wilson $10MM
    Ryan Webb $2.2MM
    Dee Gordon $2.5MM

  • So I think tomorrow will be the most important test of how far we can go. We can win it all with two pitchers since Arietta has shown he can carry over his success to the post season. If Lester can be dominant also then I think we can go far no matter how Hendricks or Hammel do.


    And in terms of pitching just went through to see how we could maximize Lester and Arietta and came up with this (Lester would be going on 4 days rest three times and Arietta twice):

  • i still can't believe that crawford contract (7/142). all that loot and years for a LF'r who's entire hitting game revolves around his legs and line-drive power. those triples that raised his value are deceptive as hell to his true power, but it helped him get paid.

    there's also pause about a guy who's ob% is almost totally driven by hits rather than walks. BOS got lucky unloading that crap deal.

  • I think the Cubs take Berry and Soler off playoff roster and add Hammel & Ramirez. Believe Maddon will find Denorfia & Jackson defense too hard to lose.

  • O & B: I like the one-game Wild Card heart attack game, but I'd actually like to see a best two-out-of-three LDS played in the home parks of the two division winners with the best records, and then the LCS as a best two-out-of-three in the home park of the division winner left standing with the best record, and then let's get to the World Series already. 

  • I...don't know. If chanting would help the Cubs beat the Cardinals in the next series or ultimately the World Series I think I'd be ok with it lol. I'm not supportive of saying insulting things to opposing fans or throwing things but loud noise and chanting seems appropriate to me.

    I also grew up in France though and that kind of thing is par for the course at soccer and rugby matches and I love it. I find crowds too passive here.

  • Er, they won the first one. My bad. Carry on.

  • With last night's win in Pittsburgh, the Cubs have tied the Pirates with 98 wins, and are only 2-1/2 games behind the Cardinals. No reason why the Cubs can't finish the post-season with the best winning percentage in baseball (regular season & post-season combined). 

  • BOB: I doubt very much that Matt Szczur will be on the Cubs LDS roster.

    If he wasn't on the Wild Card roster (when the Cubs went with 15 position players), he won't be on the LDS roster (when the Cubs will go with 13 or 14 position players).

    As it is, at least one of the three RH hitting outfielders who were on the Cubs WC roster (Denorfia, Jackson, and Soler) could get bumped off the LDS roster (probably Soler).