By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
Kuma Os O’s
Mariner’s pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma threw his first career no-hitter when he blanked the Baltimore Orioles at Safeco Field last Wednesday, Aug. 5th. Iwakuma became just the second Japanese major league baseball player to throw a no-hitter.
The no-hitter also was the very first complete game of Iwakuma’s major league career. Iwakuma walked just three batters and struck out seven for his fourth win of the season. For Iwakuma’s feat, he was named the American League player of the week. The no-hitter is a great accomplishment for Iwakuma as he was injured early in the season and worked hard to get back to pitch. Through his interpreter, Iwakuma profusely thanked the fans in attendance in a post-game interview before the crowd. The game was a very special moment for him as he was pitching in front of his wife and three children who were visiting from Japan. He noted that they rarely get to see his games and thus the no-hitter was even more special. In addition, Iwakuma stated that he received over 100 texts from friends, family, and former teammates congratulating him on his win.
The 34-year-old Iwakuma was the subject of trade rumors as the Mariners are one of the most disappointing teams in baseball this year. Once thought of as World Series contenders at the beginning of the season, the team has chronically underperformed all year long and have had a losing record since June. The team looked to trade away players of value to attain potential future prospects, but Iwakuma was not one of the players that left Seattle. Iwakuma indicated that he’d like to continue with the Mariners and the team would like to sign him to an extension for next year.
Hideo Nomo actually threw two no-hitters in his major baseball league career. The Japanese pitcher threw one for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1996 and then one for the Boston Red Sox in 2001. Iwakuma’s no-hitter was the fifth in Mariners baseball history.
Iwakuma followed up his no-hitter with another win against Texas in his next start.
Lin visits Seattle for video game championships
Why was Linsanity in Seattle last week? Lin was a guest commentator for “The International,” the DotA 2 Championships which was played at the Key Arena from Aug. 3-8. For those not initiated in gamer lingo, DotA stands for “Defense of the Ancients” which is a multi-player online battle arena game. DotA 2 is the stand-alone sequel to DotA and was released in July 2013. It pits two teams of five players against each other. The goal of the game is to destroy the opponents’ “Ancient.”
The Ancient is a heavily guarded structure at opposing corners of the battle map.
Each player controls a “Hero” character and focuses on “leveling up” which is acquiring items to fight opponents. The opportunity to watch people play Dota 2 was immense as KeyArena was sold out for the tournament. The players vied for a first place price of over $6 million. The overall prize pool for the tournament was over $18 million.
Lin is a professed player of the game. He indicated that he gets at least three sessions of DotA a week during the NBA season. Most of the time he finds the opportunity to play in his hotel room, when he’s on the road after a game. Lin likens the game to basketball as he said on the gamer broadcast, “It’s 5-on-5, you have three types of positions…it’s the same thing here.” Lin stressed the teamwork factor involved in both basketball and DotA 2.
While one might think that this is just a video game, games such as DotA 2 are being referred to as “eSports” as the players are beginning to receive athlete treatment. There is big prize money for the tournaments, the players have received monetary sponsorships, and there is even drug testing in one of the pro gaming leagues. Based on the level of interest, eSports and gaming tournaments like “The International” are here to stay.
Lin, who will be playing for the Charlotte Bobcats this year, is no longer the only pro basketball player in the family. Lin’s younger brother Joe has signed a two- year contract to play for the Fubon Braves of the Super Basketball League in Taiwan.
Joe played point guard at Hamilton College in Pennsylvania, where he graduated in 2014.
Filipino Kobe commits to UCLA
As we head into fall, be on the lookout for a new Kobe in Los Angeles. Kobe Paras, a 6’6” basketball player from the Philippines has committed to play college basketball at UCLA. Paras, who moved from the Philippines to attend Cathedral High School in Los Angeles, will be playing for the Bruins next fall. Paras, like his Laker namesake, is known for his shooting prowess and dunking ability. Paras is a two-time FIBA 3×3 Under-18 slam dunk champion representing the Philippines.
Paras moved to the United States in 2013 to pursue his dream of playing in the NBA. It’s clear that his first name is helping with recognition (even though his twitter handle is Im_Not_Kobe, a subtle nod to Bryant). But, it’s his play that is getting Kobe the recognition on the high school basketball circuit (and soon NBA and maybe in the pros).
Jordan Clarkson, who plays for the Lakers and is part Filipino, offered some advice for Paras saying that he should “keep working hard and compete as much as he can for an opportunity to make it to the NBA.” Clarkson, who visited Manila on behalf of the NBA this summer, was asked about the prospects of Paras playing in the NBA. The current Laker guard who made the All-NBA Rookie First Team last year indicated that if Paras continues to work on his game he could achieve his goal of playing in the NBA. Clarkson is the only player in the NBA with Filipino roots. Although it is too far in the future, if Paras continues his ascension with his basketball skills, he could one day join Clarkson in the league. (end)
Jason Cruz can be reached at email@example.com.