Wednesday, December 07, 2011

There Goes My Hiro

While he hasn't officially signed with another MLB team (or returned to Japan) yet, the signings of Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang by the Dodgers all but spell the end of the Hiroki Kuroda era in L.A. (Unless, of course, the team finds some money under the couch cushions and decides to carry six starters. Six starters? Inconceivable!)

Here's the thing, though. We kept hearing that the Dodgers couldn't afford another year of Kuroda. I suppose that's true, considering he likely wouldn't take longer than a 1-year deal, leaving the Dodgers little room for the kind of backloading they're pulling with all the other contracts being handed out right now. Still, with all the money being tossed at players that are unlikely to spark any kind of buzz amongst the depleting fanbase (Confession: I had no idea Mark Ellis existed until the Dodgers picked him up.), not bringing back an underrated gem like Kuroda just feels...disappointing.

My intent here is not to bury management's curious offseason moves. (Other bloggers are doing that just fine.) My intent is to show appreciation for Hiroki Kuroda. (Certain other bloggers are doing that...uh...not so well.)

Kuroda's time as a Dodger will probably be best remembered for two moments that really had nothing to do with his performance as a pitcher:

2008 NLCS Game 3: Kuroda throws over the head of "The Cryin' Hawaiian" Shane Victorino in apparent retaliation for a series of HBPs from Phillies pitchers. You can debate all you want about whether a pitcher should be taking that kind of action, but for Dodger fans, it was the right move at the right time. It galvanized the team, cemented Victorino as an all-time Dodger villain, and gave those of us watching one brief moment of hope that this team could pull it off. (And then NOTHING AT ALL HAPPENED in Game 4.)

August 15, 2009: Kuroda is drilled in the side of the head by a line drive off the bat of the D-Backs' Rusty Ryal. This was one of the most horrifying sights I've seen as a Dodger fan. (I didn't see the Kaz Ishii injury when it happened.) I thought for second that he might be dead. Not only was he not seriously hurt, one of the first questions he asked trainer Stan Conte was whether someone had caught the ball for an out after it ricocheted off his head. BAD. ASS.

--

Both of those incidents proved to everyone that Hiro is a fighter. While he should be remembered for that, I think some are going to forget just how great a pitcher he was. He pitched a one-hitter against the Braves in '08 (after taking a perfecto into the 8th). He secured the Dodgers' first postseason series win in 20 years. He had another shot at a no-no in 2010, only to have it broken up by arch-nemesis Victorino. And when he wasn't having grand flashy moments like those, he was simply a consistent workhorse with a warrior's spirit. He gave the Dodgers a fighting chance every single time he took the mound.

I've seen his decision to not waive his no-trade clause last year criticized by some as not making much sense. To me, it showed that his loyalty to a team he loved outweighed his lifelong desire to win a championship. He didn't want to win with just anyone. He wanted to win with the Dodgers. I'm sad that never came to be.

But hey, we'll always have this...

I will miss your fire on that mound, Hiroki Kuroda. Domo arigato.

Top photo: Found on Dodgers Nation, photographer unknown.
Kemp and Kuroda photo: Icon/SMI
Pimpin ain't easy photo: Sports Illustrated

25 comments:

Mr. LA Sports Czar said...

What happens to Kenji Nimura, Hiroki's translator?

Fernie V said...

What are you talking about, we signed six starters last year. He is coming back. They will pull out some money just in time so no one gets pregnant.

Hideo Nomo said...

@MLASC:

He was employed by the team. He also translates for Spanish-speakers, so the Dodgers could feasibly keep him around. They'll need him when Ned trades Zach Lee for Kosuke Fukudome.

Dusty Baker said...

Completely agree, Nomo. I'm going to crank some Foo on the way home to honor him. I wish we could hire him just for the Phillies series once more, though, just to get the job done against Victorino.

MeanieBreanie said...

Maybe Delino can give back some of the sons bribe money to help fund his contract.

Dusty Baker said...

I'm pretty sure that bribe money was spent on hookers and blow fairy soon after it arrived, MB.

Mr. LA Sports Czar said...

Fairy blow is like regular blow, but with more sparkles.

Dusty Baker's Toothpick said...

@DB - Good to see that Delino is using that bribe money to help stimulate the economy.

Hideo Nomo said...

Fairy Blow > Colon Blow

Mr. LA Sports Czar said...

The sons burn through interns like Juan Uribe through belts.

Hideo Nomo said...

Now who's replying in the wrong place?

Hideo Nomo said...

Colon Blow > Tebow

Mr. LA Sports Czar said...

I was just making a general statement, gosh.

Hideo Nomo said...

And a true one at that. I just threw an intern out the window.

Not because he did anything wrong. I just wanted to see how far he'd fly.

MR.F said...

Kuroda has been so beast for us. Stay Hiro!

MR.F said...

Fernie V,

Mythbusters recently tested out the pullout method....

http://img.izismile.com/img/img4/20110610/640/myth_or_reality_how_effective_pullout_method_is_640_high_02.jpg

MR.F said...

I mean...

http://bit.ly/mql8s9

(sfw)

Neeebs said...

Bartolo Colon > Colon Blow

Dusty Baker's Toothpick said...

Great post Nomo. You bring honor to the Hiro Nation. Love that picture of Kemp pouring booze down Hiro. Why doesn't anyone ever do that to me?

Fernie V said...

Mr F
I got a friend who swears by it. He has three kids and says he pulled out like 100 times. Can't argue with those odds. Then again he also believe his third kid was conceived by Fellatio.

Dusty Baker said...

@Nomo re throwing interns out of the window for no reason

It's a great management technique I've perfected. Instills fear, keeps intern and staff on their toes.

Kinda of like what reagan would do with his Chiefs of Staff in the 1980s.

Hideo Nomo said...

@DB's Toothpick:

Come to SoSG Fest 2012 and we'll make it happen.

Dusty Baker said...

Disclaimer: Booze will not be poured down you by SoSG DelinO, not Matt Kemp.

Hideo Nomo said...

And if DelinO's pouring it, there's a good chance Dusty will swipe it out of his hands before it even reaches you.

Dusty Baker said...

True. True.