For those who were unfamiliar with Samurai Champloo, you were given a huge treat on June 11. Instead of getting the adrenaline rush of samurai fights, fans were treated to a more humorous episode called Baseball Blues. Just as the title entails, we see our three heroes (Mugen, Jin, and Fuu) all partake in a “friendly” game of baseball. It’s a fan favorite, and is hilarious from start to finish. However, I did find it intriguing that there was a World Baseball Classic Championship match well before the WBC even began. Then I began to wonder what the stats and the real score of the game would be if it was taken seriously (it was shown that the Japanese team won 2-0, but a few things didn’t add up). So despite the fact that only one inning was played, the team of Toonami Faithful decided to investigate which country deserves bragging rights for what should have been called the game of the century.
This wouldn’t be the first time that someone wanted to look at the “nitty-gritty” when dealing with a cartoon sporting event. There’s an actual box score about the basketball game that occurred in Space Jam. So that’s when Darrell Maddox came up with the idea for me to investigate this incomplete game (this was discussed on episode 203 of the Toonami Faithful Podcast, yet to be released).
It was a game in which the Japanese and American teams suited up with more than pride on the line. It was the Japanese who took the Americans’ challenge to a baseball game which would decide if the fleet, led by Alexander Joey Cartwright, would be permitted to build a trading route between the two countries. Accepting that challenge wasn’t the best idea for the Japanese captain Kagemaru, but he couldn’t just back off.
At first the Japanese team didn’t even have a full lineup! Only seven players were available to start. However, I bumped their starting lineup to eight after seeing the Japanese team pitch. This is because they used a scarecrow as the catcher. Later in the episode, Manzou the Saw joined the team which would have made me just add him to the starting lineup, instead of being called a pinch hitter. So eventually the team did have a total of nine players who played in the game to make it a little more legitimate.
You’d think that’d be enough for the Japanese team, since Interpreter Doubleday had an especially rough day pitching, as he gave up five hits and four runs plus a hit batsmen (by my eye, which will be explained). So while the Japanese team was less experienced, they were able to jump to an early lead.
When reviewing the Japanese offense, I’d be okay if anyone confused them with “The Big Red Machine“, thanks to the team’s superstar, Mugen, and Jin. The Japanese team gained an early 2-0 lead thanks to Mugen’s monster home run (which is even more impressive since the Americans were trying to walk him intentionally). Mugen would have had three RBI’s on his home run, but due to a baserunning blunder (advancing past Jin who was on first with a single), he was called out on the play. Fuu couldn’t keep the offense going either and struck out in the very next at-bat. It was after that strikeout when chaos ensued and forced me to take some liberties to score the game accurately.
It started with the village consulate who wasn’t able to get to the batter’s box since he became injured while walking the plate. Because he couldn’t take his at-bat, the team needed a pinch hitter to replace him. Instead, the Japanese team decided just to move everyone up in the lineup, making a dog bat next. The dog was hit by a pitch in its at-bat, and instead of taking first base, it ran away from the ballpark (making that the second player the Japanese team lost). The next batter Momo, Fuu’s furry companion, deserted the team as well after seeing what happened to her canine teammate. In retrospect, She could have been a pinch runner instead of a batter, since the team needed a baserunner for the dog. Sadly she bolted, which brought down the team’s roster to five (the game shouldn’t have continued)! Luckily, Manzou the Saw was asked to enter the game and reached with a single, which should have created a tense situation for Doubleday. After that single there should have been runners on first and second, but that was when this inning should have ended, and here’s why.
Since the catcher can’t hit, being a scarecrow and all, that should have been the third out for the Japanese team to end the inning. But it never went up to the plate, so the game continued with just two outs recorded (Mugen and Fuu). So “technically” the team batted around in the first inning, and leadoff hitter Kagemaru batted once again. He hit into what looked liked an inning-ending double-play when Manzou was tagged at second (this could have been five total outs). Again that should have ended the inning, but instead the Japanese team continued to hit. After reviewing the play, Manzou was safe, but he was injured after a nasty collision at second and had to be replaced, but no one could replace him. So now there should have been runners on second and third, and what’s crazier is that there were four outs in the inning (Mugen, Fuu, Scarecrow, and now Kagemaru)! Even if you take out the scarecrow, that’s still three outs. Apparently the show didn’t count either Mugen’s or Fuu’s previous out. So Doubleday had to record more than three outs to end the first!
So in the show, the Japanese team only scored two runs. However, by my eye, that shouldn’t have been the case (if we go by five outs to end an inning). When Jin attempted an inside the park home run, there should have been two base runners (the dog and Manzou) who would have scored on that play. So by my eyes, this gave the Japanese team a total of four runs to kick off the inning after the Americans recorded nearly enough outs for two full innings (five outs).
With that, it was the Americans turn to bat, and things did not go as well as they’d planned. There were two quick outs to start the inning via flyout and a broken bat line out by Cartwright. Kagemaru was pitching a no-hitter at this point but was severely hurt by the splinters of the broken bat piercing his body. This injury forced Mugen to enter in relief, and he was as wild as Ricky Vaughn. Mugen walked his first batter, and ending up hitting eight consecutive batters after that (two HBP were not shown, but you can hear two more groans from players after they were hit). Just like that a four-run lead evaporated as the American were now up 6-4 by my count. However, since none of the American’s took their base, no one scored according to the series.
The game ends on a swing by Doubleday, where the bat flies out of his hands and is hit by a pitch. Since Doubleday swung, that counts as a strike and still needs to continue his at-bat. After that incident, the game was called due to injuries. We end the game at 2-0, which really shouldn’t have been the final score.
There were eight runs unaccounted for, and per the MLB rules, if a game doesn’t go at least five full innings no one can be declared the winner. In fact, we didn’t finish a full inning from this game! We are still in the bottom of the first, two outs, with the batter having a 0-1 count. Since it’s an incomplete game, this grudge match still needs a legitimate champion.
*Shown below are the scorecards for the each team.
– Both Jin and Mugen should have been given two RBI’s due to the Japanese team losing two baserunners that weren’t replaced which is why I bumped up the Japanese score to four
– Jin went 2-2 with a single and triple
– Mugen hit the only home run of the game
– Fuu and the scarecrow both struck out at that time (with the scarecrow not counting in some eyes)
– A dog was HBP thus being the first animal ever to reach base safely
– In total the Japanese team had five hits and no one left on base (or LOB)
– The Japanese team had a combined no-hitter intact
– The American team never recorded a hit in that game so far
– Doubleday had to record five outs to get out of one inning
– Alexander Joey Cartwright and five other batters received, and RBI without recorded a hit
– Only two Americans had an official at-bat
– Doubleday’s ERA ended at 21.60 by Toonami Faithful’s count but would have been 10.80 if we went by the T.V series scoring
– Mugen never recorded an out while pitching
– Mugen walked one batter and hit eight batters
– The Designated Hitter (or DH) was not implemented at this time yet
– If the game ever resumes, the Americans would be at-bat with the hitter already down one strike
C.J Maffris is an editorial writer for Toonamifaithful.com. He enjoys this episode of Samurai Champloo and glad that others love the sport of baseball as well. If you want to talk about Samurai Champloo or baseball, feel free to follow him on Twitter @SeaJayMaffris