Category Archives: Commentary

Olympic reality show

The Olympics got underway on Wednesday behind closed doors, but according to some reports, the strict rules meant to ensure that those entering Japan as officials, athletes, or journalists don’t spread the coronavirus are woefully inadequate.

We’ve been hearing from infectious disease experts that the countermeasures are woefully inadequate

An NPR report describes how the official process works, while another by Canada’s The Globe and Mail paints a darker picture, essentially where those who aren’t interested in following the rules cannot be held accountable.

In the buildup to the Olympics, organizers made it sound as if the movement of athletes, officials and journalists would be monitored as carefully as if they were inmates in the Prisoner, and that those who strayed from their approved courses would be hunted down with rover from the show’s “orange alert.”

Jailbreakers

So far we’ve had one Ugandan athlete “escape” from training camp and go missing in Japan, while the entire U.S. women’s gymnastics team opted out of the Olympic Village, opting instead to stay at a nearby hotel for safety’s sake.

It’s all about the rich and powerful

A few days before the Olympics opened, IOC president Thomas Bach thanked, not the people of Japan for holding the Olympics during a health crisis but the “Japanese authorities” for shoving it down residents’ throats and the IOC “for making the tough decisions.”

A few days later, Bach said, “You can’t expect 100 percent of the people to support anything,” when asked about the 80 percent of Japan’s residents who were against holding the Olympics.

In an interview with NBC, Japan prime minister Yoshihide Suga essentially made it sound as if Japan was sacrificing its population to hold the Olympics because of its duty to the world.

Damn those Japanese are heroic and altruistic.

It’s about looking good, not being good

The real key to holding a “safe and secure” Olympics is to care less about them actually being safe and secure, and more about convincing people that they will be.

Once April rolled around and the IOC was in the process of publishing its strict coronavirus playbooks, then it was all about solutions that would evolve and get better. They didn’t really get better, but that was good enough to keep U.S. sports federations from bailing the way they had in March 2020 when their non participation forced the postponement.

An example of this is the extreme focus on hand sanitation, writes Yahoo Sports, rather than worrying about the threat of congestion and airborne transmission.

And yet…

The Tokyo Olympics have so far been known for:

  • Logo plagiarism
  • Scrapping the original stadium design when the actual cost became known to the public
  • A corruption and bribery investigation that led to the Japanese Olympic Committee’s president stepping down
  • The reality that Tokyo’s summers are in no way imaginable suitable for holding an Olympics which forced the IOC to step in and move the marathons to Japan’s northernmost island.
  • A sexism scandal that forced the Tokyo organizing committee president to step down
  • A sexist, body-shaming remark causing the coordinator of the opening and closing ceremonies to step down
  • A composer for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics and Paralympics who in the past bragged about torturing special needs students
  • The director of the opening ceremony getting fired for making jokes in the past about the Holocaust
  • Music used in the opening ceremony composed by a ultra nationalist opponent of LGBTQ rights and holocaust denier

And in order to get all these, Japan has put its coronavirus response on the backburner to make sure nothing got in the way of holding a successful Tokyo Olympics, which meant a lack of testing and a delayed and inadequate vaccine rollout.

Some bargain, huh?

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Senga’s clock is ticking

Pitcher Kodai Senga’s future lies in the balance. The right-hander, who has long asked the SoftBank Hawks to post him to the majors only to be refused, is now eying international free agency after the 2022 season.

But while that may seem a long way off, the future of the Hawks’ ace could be decided as early as next month. If the Hawks are cautious with their ace in the same way they were cautious with another major league aspirant, star center fielder Yuki Yanagita in 2019, then Senga may be screwed.

In the 2019 season, the Hawks took every possible precaution with Yanagita as he rehabbed from a leg injury.

Yanagita, a five-tool major league-style outfielder who had told everyone his dream was to play in the majors, had been targeting 2021 as the year he would report to camp, not on Feb. 1 in Miyazaki, but in March in either Florida or California after nine years on the Hawks’ first team.

Then he got hurt. He was deactivated on April 8, 2019, but was not reactivated until Aug. 21, and when the season ended, his service time clock stood at 7 years, 135 days — 10 days short of an eighth year, meaning his 2021 major league move was delayed — and eventually abandoned when the Hawks offered him a huge multiyear contract to stay in Japan.

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One would think the Hawks would cut Yanagita some slack. From 2015 to 2018, Yanagita produced four straight MVP-caliber seasons and became the second player in Japanese pro baseball history to lead his league in slugging and on-base percentage four seasons in a row.

But the Hawks took no chances with their star, and now they’re in the same situation with Senga.

Senga missed three months after hurting his ankle in his season debut, and with the 60 days he gets for being hurt on the field of play, his service time clock now stands, by my best estimate, at 7 years, 83 days.

If the Hawks fail to reach the playoffs, a possibility this year, they will have 70 days left on their calendar after the Olympic break. If Senga is deactivated even once during that stretch, the 28-year-old will be in danger of not qualifying for free agency until the 2023 season, meaning he couldn’t report to a major league camp until after he turns 31.