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Video: Watch a Japanese batter try to hit a 186 m.p.h. fastball

Aug 29, 2014, 12:00 PM EST

This is fun. It’s in Japanese, but you don’t need to speak Japanese to get what’s going on here. A special pitching machine that can fire a 186 m.p.h. fastball + an NPB hitter trying to square up. He does not succeed. Partially because he appears to be totally unaware that the pitch is going to be that fast.

Go to the 3:29 if you want to see his first effort.

 

Afterwards, the pitching machine talked about wanting to work on his offspeed stuff because all big league hitters can turn on a fastball.

 

  1. pjmitch - Aug 29, 2014 at 12:11 PM

    I would think if something was coming at me that fast, I would at least want to have a helmet on

    • pauleee - Aug 29, 2014 at 12:15 PM

      I’m not sure the helmet would help any.

      • deepstblu - Aug 29, 2014 at 2:38 PM

        I would go with a suit of armor, although that might cause some problems with the swing.

  2. jinx21fan - Aug 29, 2014 at 12:24 PM

    Hilarious @ 4:17

  3. pete2112 - Aug 29, 2014 at 12:25 PM

    That is crazy. I would imagine the bat would be shattered if he did make contact.

    • pete2112 - Aug 29, 2014 at 1:29 PM

      Thumbed down for that? Hmmm?

      • pete2112 - Aug 29, 2014 at 1:53 PM

        Really?

      • pete2112 - Aug 29, 2014 at 2:14 PM

        Really really?

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - Aug 29, 2014 at 2:20 PM

        People thumbs down those they don’t like, regardless of what the content is. You could say you like ice cream, and someone would give you a thumbs down.

      • pete2112 - Aug 29, 2014 at 2:38 PM

        Are you saying I’m not liked? :)

      • pete2112 - Aug 29, 2014 at 2:40 PM

        I do in fact like ice cream and would like there to be world peace.

  4. ezthinking - Aug 29, 2014 at 12:31 PM

    He’d have to swing before the ball is thrown/shot. Not sure any wood bat could take the impact of a full swing and a ball moving that fast.

    Dial it back to 200 kph, about 124 mph and maybe luck could bring contact. Still fun.

    • jinx21fan - Aug 29, 2014 at 1:19 PM

      I remember going as a kid to the batting cage. When it was set on high I would have to start my swing when the light came on to indicate the “pitch” was coming. It was the only way I had a chance to catch up to the ball. It sure seemed to me like it was going 186mph!

      • dowhatifeellike - Aug 29, 2014 at 3:32 PM

        That was always my issue with pitching machines. Only a few that I encountered would signal that the ball is coming, and even on those the timing was inconsistent. It’s hard to make good contact at even 70mph when you’re swinging flatfooted because it’s a surprise every time the ball pops out.

  5. Jack Glasscock's Cup - Aug 29, 2014 at 12:56 PM

    The Curious Case of Sidd Finch, made reality. But could a catcher catch it?

  6. thomas844 - Aug 29, 2014 at 12:58 PM

    “the pitching machine talked about wanting to work on his offspeed stuff”

    “His” offspeed stuff? How do you know the machine isn’t female? Misogynist….

    • thomas844 - Aug 29, 2014 at 1:00 PM

      btw don’t take this comment too seriously lol

    • grumpyoleman - Aug 29, 2014 at 3:06 PM

      If the machine was female she still couldn’t play in the big leagues.

  7. dodgerfaninjapan - Aug 29, 2014 at 1:08 PM

    A short explanation of what the people were talking about.

    The machine was made by a company that makes air pressure devices for things like power plants. Someone suggested that you could fire a ball with one of their machines, so they decided to make a pitching machine, even though none of them had any experience making one. One of the panel said, “If it hits someone, wouldn’t it kill them?”

    So the guy who is hitting here is named Yamasaki Takeshi and he was a 2 time home run champ in the NPB. He retired last year. They didn’t tell him how fast the pitches would be in order to preserve his reaction. They just told him it would be “very fast.” His reaction to hearing that was that he had practiced on pitching machines and that he had only retired last year, so it should be a piece of cake.

    They started him off at about 100mph and he was hitting that. Then they turned it up to max. He was expecting about 118 mph. What he got was over 190 mph. He said that he couldn’t even see it. He said that he could time the machine and swing blindly, but that it’s too fast for actual batting. Even if you could see the ball, in the time it takes to react, start your swing and aim your bat– the ball will have already passed you. It’s too fast for human reactions.

    • gostlcards5 - Aug 29, 2014 at 2:33 PM

      Actually, to clarify the numbers they show….they started at 160 km/h, which is 96.8 mph.

      When they maxed it, they said it was at 307 km/h, which is 185.7 mph.

      • dodgerfaninjapan - Aug 30, 2014 at 12:30 AM

        For the first number, I just used a basic 1.6 Km/mile conversion. But the other three numbers I used Google’s conversion tool and just checked it again with a second tool and a calculator.

        Using 1kph = 0.621371 and rounding to 1 decimal place:
        100 kph = 99.4 mph
        190 kph = 118.1 mph
        307 kph = 190.8

        If I’ve made a mistake here, please feel free to point it out.

    • yahmule - Aug 29, 2014 at 10:43 PM

      Thanks for the background info.

  8. sparty0n - Aug 29, 2014 at 1:19 PM

    I still find it strange that the Japanese teams use English on their jerseys

    • pete2112 - Aug 29, 2014 at 1:41 PM

      Me too. I’ve always wondered about that but I’ve never taken the time to find out why.

    • Ren - Aug 29, 2014 at 6:48 PM

      The reason for that is cause there are more foreign baseball fans visitin Japanese stadiums to watch em play nowadays, there’s a 12 percent increase if you compared it from last year’s 9 percent.

      English names in their jerseys are bein used instead of Kanji’s and Kana sovthey would be known better.

      South Korea’s KBO is the only team in Asia who’re currently not usin those kind of English Jerseys but rather stayin in in their own Hangul style writings.

  9. ejheim62 - Aug 29, 2014 at 1:38 PM

    no truth to the rumor that the Angels, Yankees, Red Sox and Tigers are all in a competitive bidding war to obtain the rights to the pitching machine….

    • Jack Glasscock's Cup - Aug 29, 2014 at 2:09 PM

      http://www.niemanstoryboard.org/2014/04/01/whys-this-so-good-no-90-george-plimpton-and-sidd-finch/

      Mets won.

    • jyoung1891 - Aug 29, 2014 at 5:42 PM

      And the Phillies asked if there was an older model available.

  10. rocketsteadman - Aug 29, 2014 at 1:55 PM

    That’s nice and all, but that UCL is never gonna last more than a few pitches…

  11. Jeremy Fox - Aug 29, 2014 at 1:57 PM

    This seems like a good excuse to link to this: http://what-if.xkcd.com/1/

    • itinerantpedant - Aug 29, 2014 at 4:50 PM

      The entire city was “hit by pitch”. What’s the MLB rule on “stadium and much of the surrounding metro are destroyed by nuclear explosion”?

      • nbjays - Aug 29, 2014 at 4:57 PM

        Go to New York for a review of the play.

  12. shaggylocks - Aug 29, 2014 at 2:01 PM

    I love his bunt attempt.

  13. ripwarrior - Aug 29, 2014 at 2:08 PM

    I wonder if players ever use these to train with. Let’s say you train to hit on a machine that throws 120. Wouldn’t hitting 90 mph seem easier?

    • jplum831 - Aug 29, 2014 at 2:47 PM

      In college, I’d gradually move closer to the machine for the same effect. So, I’d start out at the distance (I can’t remember the exact distance of our cage) and then get a couple feet closer every 3-4 pitches. Eventually, I’d end up about half way between the plate and the machine and was still able to make regular contact.

      The effect you describe above was certainly real. It felt much slower once I moved back to a normal distance. But, it wore off rather quickly, and I can’t imagine it carrying over into a game. I couldn’t run down to the cage and see a few pitches at 30 feet and then jump into the box against a live pitcher and all the sudden his 90+ looks like 75.

      The biggest benefit, I felt, was improving my reaction time and hand-eye coordination as I was forced to get the barrel of the bat to where I wanted that much quicker.

      • dodgerfaninjapan - Aug 30, 2014 at 12:40 AM

        Ichiro Suzuki did the same thing. Once he could hit the fastest pitching machine, his father had him move closer and closer to simulate faster speeds.

        As jplum said, it’s best for developing quick reaction times and hand-eye coordination. A fast pitching machine for BP before a hard throwing pitcher can also help you catch up. But once you reach high school ball, most pitchers will have developed some off speed stuff so you can’t just sit on a fast ball.

        As they said at the very end of the video, at 300+ kph, it’s really not much use for practice because it’s literally too fast to react to. Swinging blindly doesn’t really develop your reactions. It might make a good initiation rite for rookies though.

  14. practicalpossum - Aug 30, 2014 at 9:04 AM

    Japanese are fond of using English words because the letters can be styled. Kanji can only be made larger or smaller (without changing the meaning of the symbol), but the Roman alphabet can be stretched, slanted, made thicker or thinner – you can do a thousand things to a letter “A” and it still means “A”. Consider the New York Mets logo, the “N”, “Y”, and “M” intertwined – you can’t do anything like that in kanji.

    • Ren - Aug 30, 2014 at 10:13 AM

      “Japanese are fond of using English words because the letters can be styled.”

      No, it’s not about that, the reason why they used those words is because it’s needed to be used in order for foreign people visitin em would know what those syllables they’re usin meant… It’s not about fondness. “Kanji” is somewhat a Chinese writing or in short “hanzi” which very few Japanese people only used… The 2 most notable syllables they are currently usin are mostly “Hiragana” and “Katakana” writings.

      “Kanji can only be made larger or smaller (without changing the meaning of the symbol), but the Roman alphabet can be stretched, slanted, made thicker or thinner – you can do a thousand things to a letter “A” and it still means “A”. ”

      I don’t know what to answer about this… Guess I’ll leave it to that Yano commenter when he sees this.

      • dodgerfaninjapan - Aug 30, 2014 at 12:31 PM

        I’m not Yano, but I’ll see what I can do. Japanese is written using 3 scripts- Kanji, Hiragana and Katakana. Kanji are ideographs, mostly borrowed from China. The kana scripts are purely phonetic. Most writing uses a mix of all 3. Roman letters are also occasionally used, especially for abbreviations. All Japanese scripts can be stylized, but it is harder to do so for complicated Kanji.

        I’ve seen art assignments that my students have done where they were assigned to draw Kanji artistically. The did things like draw the Kanji for fish with each line being a different type of fish or the Kanji for tree with branches and leaves. Titles and brand names are sometimes very stylized. You can look here to see a picture for the Kyojin no Hoshi pachinko game.

        They use a couple of different fonts and the title is especially interesting, It means “Star of the Giants” and the Kanji for star has a star included in the Kanji. If you have Asian fonts installed you can compare it to this: 巨人の星. You could also look here for some town logos using stylized kana. (Also using some Japanese fonts)

        As for why they use English words, I’m not sure, but I’d guess that it’s because English has generally been seen as exotic and cool in post-war Japan. The same way that English on clothing and other items is seen as cool here and Kanji tattoos are popular in the U.S. When you add in the fact that Japanese baseball has been influenced by American baseball– even to the point where most of the Japanese uniforms were copies of MLB uniforms for several years… It’s probably not the complete answer, but it’s probably a big factor.

      • dodgerfaninjapan - Aug 30, 2014 at 12:34 PM

        Hmm… The urls didn’t show. I’ll try again.

        http://pinktentacle.com/2009/09/typographic-town-logos-in-hiragana-katakana/

      • Ren - Aug 30, 2014 at 8:01 PM

        So much thanks for this one dodgerfan, really appreciate it.

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