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Monday, June 29, 2020

Inside Koshien, Japan’s Country-Defining High-School Baseball Tournament

The National High School Baseball Tournament, more commonly referred to as Koshien or Summer Koshien, is a single-elimination competition featuring 49 teams that have already had to survive a regional qualification process. Taking place over two weeks, the entirety of Koshien is broadcast live across the country to an audience of millions, and more than 50,000 fans per day typically attend games in person.

Ema Ryan Yamazaki, the director of a new documentary about the tournament that debuts on ESPN tonight at 7 p.m., likens Koshien to March Madness being combined with the Super Bowl when describing how much attention the annual competition receives in Japan.

“There’s really nothing else like it here so I always use those two examples,” Yamazaki tells InsideHook. “It’s almost unavoidable because every game is aired nationally. From 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. they have four games a day, and it’s just on. Millions of people are watching it — it’s on screens everywhere, in restaurants, business buildings. It’s just part of life for those two weeks in August, even for people who are not sports fans.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 29, 2020 at 04:24 PM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: japanese baseball

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Reigning CL MVP Hayato Sakamoto one of two Giants players to test positive for COVID-19

Two Yomiuri Giants players have tested positive for the new coronavirus, the Central League team announced Wednesday, casting a shadow over Nippon Professional Baseball’s plan to start the 2020 season on June 19.

Giants shortstop Hayato Sakamoto and catcher Takumi Oshiro are the first pro baseball players in Japan known to have tested positive for the pneumonia-causing virus since Hanshin Tigers pitcher Shintaro Fujinami and two teammates were infected in late March.

In order to limit the further spread of the virus, the Giants canceled Wednesday’s practice game against the Seibu Lions.

NPB started playing practice games Tuesday after settling on a June 19 start to the season. A 143-game campaign that was due to begin on March 20 has been shortened to 120 games due to the delay. The contests were going to be held behind closed door initially.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 03, 2020 at 10:19 AM | 14 comment(s)
  Beats: coronavirus, japanese baseball, npb

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

NPB can play ball in Japan from June 19, but minus fans

The Nippon Professional Baseball season, which has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, will begin June 19, the league announced on Monday.

The decision comes after the government’s advisory panel approved the plan to end Japan’s nationwide state of emergency for the five prefectures still under the order, including Tokyo and Hokkaido, earlier in the day.

The 2020 campaign will begin without fans in attendance, though the league will continue to monitor the situation in hopes of allowing spectators into ballparks later in the summer.

Opening day was originally scheduled for March 20 before being postponed because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 26, 2020 at 07:28 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: japan baseball, japanese baseball, npb

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

coronavirus and baseball collide in Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea

This is actually a great overview of the state of professional baseball in Asia, in addition to a story about how the leagues are handling COVID-19


Monday, April 06, 2020

Sunday Notes: Keston Hiura Can Hit, But The Book He’d Write Would Be Boring

The first time I interviewed Keston Hiura was over the phone. This was a few months after he’d been taken ninth overall by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2017 draft. Kiura was playing for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, and he called at the assigned time from a Midwest League ballpark after batting practice. I don’t recall which ballpark.

I was in Lowell, Massachusetts at a New York-Penn League game that had already started. It was loud at LeLacheur Park, so I talked to Hiura from the relative quiet of a stairwell down the left-field line. The interview went well. I found the former UC Irvine Anteater to be both forthcoming and articulate.

The second time I interviewed Kiura was at the Brewers spring training complex, four weeks ago. Standing face-to-face — closer than the six-foot distance now deemed necessary — I accused him of being boring.

Truth be told, the pertinent ground had already been covered. In our earlier long-distance conversation we’d gone over the toe tap into a high leg kick, the inside-out swing with a high finish, the way he kept both hands on the bat. For good measure, we’d touched on his patience-paired-with-aggression approach.

For those who want to hear about unpaid bets from the 1980s, players who spent a year playing baseball in Japan, and the manager we hate this most.


Saturday, April 04, 2020

Japanese pro baseball, football give up on April starts

TOKYO- Nippon Professional Baseball and the pro soccer J-League on Friday abandoned plans to play in April, while declining to say when their coronavirus pandemic-affected seasons could resume.

NPB is now hoping to open its regular season in late May, but for the first time decided not to announce a date following a meeting of representatives from its 12 teams.

The pro baseball establishment twice previously set dates, April 10 and April 24, that would allow the two leagues to complete a regular 143-game schedule, but Friday’s decision indicated new plans would be needed.

When speaking about the schedule, NPB Commissioner Atsushi Saito talked about the regular season and the season-ending Japan Series. He neglected to mention the Climax Series, the postseason playoffs to select Japan Series contestants, suggesting it could be the first sacrifice.

 

QLE Posted: April 04, 2020 at 01:05 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: japanese baseball, postponement

Thursday, April 02, 2020

MLB Can’t Afford to Come Back Too Soon

The efforts of Nippon Pro Baseball to resume playing are underscoring concerns of Major League Baseball officials about the difficulty of a potential return in the wake of the pandemic.

Teams in Japan began playing practice games in empty ballparks on March 20 with an Opening Day target of April 24. Within a week, three Hanshin Tigers players tested positive for the coronavirus, prompting the team to order players and staff to self-quarantine.

After the announcement, NPB secretary general Atsushi Ihara told reporters regarding the proposed April 24 Opening Day, “We do not plan to reconsider the date because of this.” But last night Sports Nippon in Japan reported that officials are now considering a later start.

The sequence of events in Japan reminded MLB officials of the challenges associated with any potential return to the field. While MLB is considering many proposals of what a 2020 season might look like—all are speculation with no start date in sight—MLB has little to no appetite for playing games in empty stadiums or for a postseason that extends into December, according to a league source.

 

QLE Posted: April 02, 2020 at 01:42 AM | 23 comment(s)
  Beats: japanese baseball, verducci

Friday, March 27, 2020

Coronavirus could prevent Hanshin Tigers from breaking the Curse of the Colonel

The coronavirus pandemic has had all sorts of unfortunate effects on the world of sports, both in America and around the world. Just as Major League Baseball is on indefinite hold, so too is Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball. Commissioner Atsushi Saito has said that he hopes to pick things up sometime in April, but it’s unclear whether or not that’ll happen. Calls to postpone July’s Tokyo Olympics have already begun.

That’s bad news for everyone involved in NPB, including the Hanshin Tigers. The Tigers haven’t won a title since 1985, and some attribute it to a curse involving not Babe Ruth, but Kentucky Fried Chicken. No baseball in 2020 would mean Hanshin won’t get a chance to break the Curse of the Colonel.

The finger-lickin’ curse was placed on the team following their triumph in the 1985 Japan Series over the Seibu Lions. Revelers took to the streets of Osaka in celebration of their favorite team’s first championship, and many of them gathered on Ebisu Bridge for a familiar ritual.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 27, 2020 at 01:15 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: japanese baseball

Japanese baseball players test positive for coronavirus

TOKYO (AP) — Hanshin Tigers pitcher Shintaro Fujinami and two teammates have become the first professional baseball players in Japan to test positive for the new coronavirus.

Fujinami was examined at a hospital on Tuesday and Wednesday, and a doctor recommended he have a test. Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported Friday that the result was positive.

The 25-year-old right-hander reported losing his sense of smell, although he exhibited no other symptoms before the test.

After checking the pitcher’s activities over the past two weeks, it was determined that two other players who dined with Fujinami reported a diminished sense of taste. They also tested positive, according to national broadcaster NHK.

 

QLE Posted: March 27, 2020 at 01:16 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: coronavirus, japanese baseball, shintaro fujinami

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Coronavirus could prevent Hanshin Tigers from breaking the Curse of the Colonel

The coronavirus pandemic has had all sorts of unfortunate effects on the world of sports, both in America and around the world. Just as Major League Baseball is on indefinite hold, so too is Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball. Commissioner Atsushi Saito has said that he hopes to pick things up sometime in April, but it’s unclear whether or not that’ll happen. Calls to postpone July’s Tokyo Olympics have already begun.

That’s bad news for everyone involved in NPB, including the Hanshin Tigers. The Tigers haven’t won a title since 1985, and some attribute it to a curse involving not Babe Ruth, but Kentucky Fried Chicken. No baseball in 2020 would mean Hanshin won’t get a chance to break the Curse of the Colonel.

The finger-lickin’ curse was placed on the team following their triumph in the 1985 Japan Series over the Seibu Lions. Revelers took to the streets of Osaka in celebration of their favorite team’s first championship, and many of them gathered on Ebisu Bridge for a familiar ritual.

Japanese baseball fans are like soccer fans. They don’t stoically sit in the grandstand and only make noise when prompted to by organ players or jumbotrons. They have chants and songs for all sorts of occasions and for every player, with brass instrumental accompaniments. Japanese baseball, you see, actually encourages fun.

The story of a curse- goofy, yes, but we’ve all seen goofier…..

QLE Posted: March 22, 2020 at 12:25 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: curse of the colonel, fans, hanshin tigers, japanese baseball

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

NPB to delay start of regular season due to ongoing COVID-19 outbreak

Nippon Professional Baseball has made the decision to postpone the start of its regular season as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, the league announced on Monday afternoon.

The decision comes nine years after the 2011 campaign was postponed in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent tsunami.

“We’ve decided to postpone the start of the season,” NPB Commissioner Atsushi Saito said during a news conference. “We’d like to prioritize playing 143 games with the fans. We will listen to the experts’ advice and we would like to open the season by at least the end of April.”

Earlier Monday, NPB and the J. League held a meeting of their joint task force, which was created to help the leagues make informed decisions amid the crisis.

 

QLE Posted: March 10, 2020 at 12:57 AM | 6 comment(s)
  Beats: coronavirus, japanese baseball

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

With season in doubt, Japan’s baseball taps virus experts

TOKYO (AP) — The opening of the Japanese baseball season is in doubt because of the outbreak of the new virus, officials said Monday, as the nation’s baseball and soccer leagues tapped three medical experts as advisers.

Baseball commissioner Atsushi Saito said protecting fans, players and coaches was critical. Preseason games are being played in empty stadiums, with a hope the regular season can begin as scheduled on March 20.

But Saito acknowledged assessing whether the regular season can open — and with or without fans — is a delicate decision, noting the virus outbreak wasn’t expected to subside soon.

“That is the difficult part,” Saito said. “At this point, we still can’t say what action we will take under what conditions.”

 

QLE Posted: March 03, 2020 at 01:17 AM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: coronavirus, japanese baseball

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Japanese baseball to play remainder of preseason without spectators due to virus fears

Nippon Professional Baseball announced Wednesday it will hold all 72 of its remaining preseason games behind closed doors, becoming the latest Japanese sporting body to take drastic steps to address the spiraling coronavirus crisis.

It follows an announcement by the Japan Rugby Football Union earlier in the day that it will postpone 16 games across two rounds of the 2020 Top League season.

Representatives from NPB’s 12 teams decided at an extraordinary meeting to hold the popular sport’s preseason in empty stadiums a day after the Yomiuri Giants said fans would be barred from two preseason games this weekend at Tokyo Dome. NPB’s regular season is slated to open on March 20.

“This was a bitter decision to make. Because we can’t determine the situation, I won’t say anything right now about (opening day),” NPB Commissioner Atsushi Saito said. “If possible, we all want to go ahead on March 20.”

 

 

QLE Posted: February 27, 2020 at 12:39 AM | 51 comment(s)
  Beats: coronavirus, japanese baseball

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Unlikely chain of events created a trailblazer

Although pitcher Carter Stewart did not set any records last year, by signing with the SoftBank Hawks instead of a Major League Baseball team, the 20-year-old made history as the first elite American amateur to sign his first pro baseball contract in Japan.

Stewart was the eighth player chosen among the 1,214 players selected in MLB’s 2018 amateur draft, and only the most bizarre set of circumstances and the intervention of a neighbor changed his course and brought him to Japan.

But the book appeared to slam shut on the fairytale story after the Atlanta Braves discovered an old injury, using that as a rationale to offer him a much smaller signing bonus.

After an arbitrator ruled on a players’ union grievance in the Braves’ favor, the Stewart family was receptive to an offer from Japan. They then visited Fukuoka to scout out the territory before making a decision and signing at the end of May.

Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: February 20, 2020 at 05:43 AM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: atlanta braves, draft pick compensation, japanese baseball

Sunday, February 09, 2020

Longtime Oriole Adam Jones ready to start his international baseball career

Former Orioles star Adam Jones is getting ready to start his international baseball career with the Orix Buffaloes in Japan after spending fourteen seasons in MLB.

Jones, a five-time All-Star, spent eleven seasons with the Orioles from 2008-18 before joining the Arizona Diamondbacks for the 2019 MLB season.

During his time with Baltimore, Jones won four Gold Gloves (2009, 2011, 2012, 2013) and was named a Silver Slugger (2013).

 

QLE Posted: February 09, 2020 at 01:32 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: adam jones, japanese baseball

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Electronic sign stealing: A scandal two decades ago in Japan

TOKYO (AP) — If anyone thought that using technology to steal catchers’ signs had only blemished Major League Baseball and the Houston Astros — or it’s something new — think again.

Japan went through a similar scandal just over 20 years ago. The Japanese revere baseball as much as Americans and have straddled the same thin line between gamesmanship and cheating.

In a widely covered scandal in 1998, a camera in the Fukuoka Dome was discovered to be focused on the catcher. Officials of the Daiei Hawks — now the SoftBank Hawks — reportedly monitored the signs and relayed them by walkie-talkie to fans in the stands, who then used signals to batters to indicated the coming pitch.

There was no trash-can banging, as the Astros did. Instead, a fan would hold up a megaphone in front of their body to indicate, say, a fastball. Holding it to the right meant curve. On the left was, say, a change up.

A discussion of a current scandal from an international perspective.

 

QLE Posted: January 22, 2020 at 01:07 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: japanese baseball, sign-stealing, softbank hawks

 

 

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