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.
  • One funny thing to see before the game was the two submariner pitchers (David Berg and Corbin Hoffner) playing catch with each other. Both pitchers throw "submarine" even when they play catch, and it's kind of mesmerizing to watch, even for the other players. 

  • CUBSTER: One of the points of emphasis  at "basic" Instructs this year was teaching the position players the art of baserunning and base-stealing, like getting a good primary and seconday lead, reading the pitcher, cutting bases sharply, and different ways to slide to maximize the baserunner's chance to arrive safely. 

  • Brooksbaseball.net has some interesting stats/graphs on pitch and strike zones and you can dial up individual games/pitchers. I'd love to see some comments from readers who can interpret this better than I can. I thought the Ump was really inconsistent with a very wide zone. Does this info seem to match up with my eyeball perception? Also, looking at the graphs, Lackey was not throwing as many pitches below the K-zone (certainly more above) while Lester was clearly getting his pitches down and not many above.

  • As I was fearing in my post yesterday, Maddon keeps trotting Strop out against the Redbirds and he constantly fails. I understand the psychology behind this, but in a series where there is a finite lock on who moves on, why does he keep riding the wrong horse?

  • AZ Phil: Agree, this must have been a really fun game to watch. There was a lot of base stealing going on. Are the pitchers not holding runners or is the catching still a work in progress?

  • Cuzzi has long been known as having the biggest strike zone among all umpires.

  • AZ Phil, give me a scouting report on Chris Pieters since he has become a 1B/OF.

  • I think it's probably hard to adjust to an ump's zone mid-game, as least for hitters. Pitchers can locate to an ump's zone, but hitters have minimal time to react.

    But, whatever. Umps are going to miss calls. Let's beat up on the non-Lackey starters.

  • Watched a little of Mets-Dodgers.

    Jason deGrom -- oh, my.

  • Cubs 3-4-5 hitters are 0-21 so far in the post-season.

    Let's change that in a big effin' way tomorrow, boys.

  • Considering how players reacted it seemed pretty accurate high and wide (to righties), but not so accurate low and in. I thought the strike zone by the ump was awful, but it was consistent and the Cubs never adjusted.

    Rizzo and Bryant need to have good at bats. They are really looking outclassed in these two games.

  • that game sounds fun as hell.

  • I was just wondering the same thing. I'd rather not see it at all. If it's inaccurate, it's a bad viewer experience. If it's accurate, it shows some shitty calling by the umpire.

  • TBS' K Zone seems to be more harsh than the others.

    I wonder if MLB will ask the networks to stop using them. They just make the umps, and the game, look bad, and it only pisses off the fans.

  • ...joe.

  • "Strop vs. Cardinals." Seen the movie. Hated it.

    Not all that disappointed -- I didn't think they would beat Lackey in Game 1. Need to get the bats going against the guys with less experience -- and they hit Wacha pretty good.