Tsuyoshi Shinjo stood up for radical change, and got some support from former Japan international footballer Keisuke Honda, while the Fighters are prepared for people to get into hot water at their new ballpark.
Change or die
Japan’s managers met online Wednesday, and Tsuyoshi Shinjo made headlines for saying it was essential for Japanese baseball to change things. One of his ideas was to shuffle the 12 teams into two different leagues at the end of each season.
“My idea is that at the end of the season, you get the commissioner and the 12 managers, and into a box you throw 12 balls, six from each league, and each manager draws one out. The Fighters could be put in the Central League and the Hanshin Tigers in the Pacific,” Shinjo said.
New commissioner Sadayuki Sakakibara smiled when he said of the idea, “I’m glad everyone is thinking positively about the future.”
Shinjo also recommended some kind of relegation and promotion.
“We have to change so baseball becomes more interesting.”
Within two hours, Honda tweeted out his support:
“There was a suggestion that baseball’s CL and PL be shuffled and of course I agree. However, what really needs to be changed about the world of baseball is introducing relegation and promotion.”
“There’s always a downside to any change. It’s painful. In the sports world, where everything is about winning, there is something fundamentally lacking if teams win but can’t be promoted and lose but can’t be demoted.”
Relegation in football, as I wrote in a newsletter last year, came about when rival English leagues began merging. It isn’t a part of pro baseball’s DNA, but it could be done as a way of managing expansion.
It won’t be done because owners want the world to change to suit them. It’s that way in MLB, where owners and players blame fans for not buying into a lousy product. Japan isn’t that bad, but it’s just as set in its ways.
Soaking in the ballpark atmosphere
As part of its huge commercial venture that happens to include a baseball stadium, the Nippon Ham Fighters announced Thursday how fans can go about reserving hotel rooms and spa time so they can view the opening series in comfort.
One part of Es Con Field Hokkaido is “Tower Eleven,” a structure above left field which includes a hotel and spa with views of the field below. Those wishing to enjoy those comforts during the Fighters first games can only make their reservations if they are selected through a lottery after applying on the club’s website.
If you’re hankering for a room with a view of the ballgame, standard rooms for game days during the opening weekend will go for 132,00 yen ($1,050), while a two-room maisonette will set you back 154,000 yen. Ballpark suites for up to eight people are priced at 165,000 yen.