Tuesday, March 15, 2016, is a date we can remember as the day Japanese baseball caught up with one of baseball’s oldest rules — the obstruction rule that prohibits blocking a base without the ball and dates back to at least 1857. The rule is older than the Yomiuri Giants, older than pro baseball in Japan — which despite Yomiuri propaganda predates the Giants by more than a decade, older than the first game ever played here.
Yet since it was systematically ignored here, the decision over the winter to enforce the existing statutes have led to obstruction being called a “new rule.”
On Tuesday, Yakult Swallows catcher Nakamura was set to block home plate with the ball, but he dropped it. While in the process of picking it up, he was obstructing the base. Hiroshima Carp base runner Ryuhei Matsuyama slid home and was tagged out. After Carp skipper Koichi Ogata protested on the grounds of Nakamura violating the novel 150-year-old rule, the umpire crew chief called for a video review. Upon review Matsuyama was safe, a run was in and Nakamura was warned that another violation of Japan’s suddenly sacred sanction against obstructing home plate would result in his ejection.
It’s problematic for a reporter, but I’m one of those people who is constantly confused by dates and times. It’s been said successful people tend to think they’re right and others are wrong. But if you’re like me and continually get days and dates mixed up, it’s easy to assume that you’re the one who’s wrong.
In 2009, after double checking, triple checking and body checking my travel dates for the World Baseball Classic quarterfinals and finals and then purchasing my non-refundable air tickets, I found I had the dates wrong.
A few days before the start of the competition, I checked the WBC website for something, only to find out the dates I thought I needed to travel on were off by one day. So I called the airline and for $300 I had my tickets changed. The next day, I checked the website again to find that the dates had reverted to the ones I had originally planned my travel around.
Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who was caught out, as some MLB staff in Tokyo told me there had been a temporary problem with the website.
A few weeks ago, it happened again. For a few days, the teams in the WBC qualifying groups were re-arranged. While explaining to a colleague that Brazil is a “strategic pocket” in MLB’s international plans, I wanted to show him how Brazil had been moved out of the tough Central and South American qualifying group they advanced from last time. But lo and behold, the website said that instead of being in Brooklyn in September, trying to qualify against Israel, Pakistan and Britain, the Brazilians were competing in Panama City.
How did I get that wrong?
Checked again today and saw that the old groups had returned. Are they being hacked? Is someone messing with the website to see if anyone is paying attention?