Camp Fires March 2, 2021

Unlike the U.S. majors being operated by MLB, Japan’s two major leagues are preparing for their 2022 season.

I haven’t been writing much about camp and preseason games because of the Olympics and some other things on my plate. But then Rob Manfred comes out and says, “The concerns of our fans are at the very top of our consideration list,” when obviously the concerns of the fans fall well below maximizing future ROI and crushing the union.

And one hears that nonsense, one is happily reminded that elsewhere baseball is going on. In Sapporo, the Fighters, whose new manager has said he knows the secret of how to score runs without hits, got six innings without a hit to execute his top secret plans to no avail

OK, so that might not mean anything, but the game made me think that Tsuyoshi Shinjo had emphasized throwing to the bases in camp, because Nippon Ham put on a clinic in their 1-0 win over the Yakult Swallows.

In Fukuoka, the Hawks played the Dragons, whose hitters were really not where they needed to be when Shuta Ishikawa’s stuff was razor sharp.

So fans of Japanese baseball have something going on, while Americans are being treated to Rob Manfred’s “thoughts and prayers,” because owners shoved a lockout down the fans’ and players’ throats.

Japan is hardly a labor paradise. People are taught to avoid emphasizing individual needs over those of the group. That plays into the hands of employers, because people are still to some degree identified in society by the groups they belong to, where they went to school and where they work.

Really going toe to toe with one’s company is looked down upon, but lacking the will to do what’s necessary for the the common good means the whole fails to adapt.

If it weren’t for MLB’s union, the U.S. majors would still be stuck in the baseball dark ages. OK, mentally, MLB owners are still in the dark, but that’s a different thing. The union forced owners to adapt and grow their game, things MLB teams really didn’t worry about when players salaries could be suppressed so far below market value.

When Japan had its lone, mini strike in 2004, Japanese baseball lurched in the right direction as the need for change became obvious to all. Of course, it wasn’t the players seeking their rights, but the owners being assholes about switching from 12 teams to 11 from 2005.

Japan’s owners said, “You fans and players aren’t business people and don’t understand squat. It’s our business not yours. You’ll get over it. We run baseball. Trust us. We know what we’re doing, and you really don’t matter.”

Which of course, is exactly what Manfred meant when he said the fans’ concern was at the top of the list.

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