Friday was a horrible day for Japan, marred as it was by the assassination of former prime minister Shinzo Abe by a loony with a home-made gun.
There was also baseball.
RIP Shinzo Abe
Abe was a pretty despicable character, but nobody deserves to be violently attacked, let alone gunned down. That it happened in a country where firearms are extremely hard to come by is even more shocking.
The official tribute Abe stories are pretty typical. My colleague from England asked to comment on him, said “He’s like marmite. You either like him or hate him.”
Abe was beset by scandals that he always seemed to be a step ahead of.
He used his influence to quash the arrest of an ally for rape, did a number of suspicious favors to ultra right-wing groups and received shady political contributions, which are a staple of Japanese politics.
He retired abruptly in 2020 ostensibly for health reasons, although it came soon after he was unable to extend the tenure of his henchman who ran the national police agency and who had been shielding him from investigations.
Many stories about how Abe secured the Tokyo Olympics are huge steaming buckets of bullshit. Abe told the IOC in 2013 that the danger of nuclear waste then leaking from a stricken power plant was under control, when it wasn’t and still isn’t.
He scrapped the construction of the Tokyo Olympic stadium after it became a political albatross. The Olympics bid he helped secure came with a huge price tag for its ultra-modern new stadium, a price that organizers misrepresented. The official government story blamed the problem on the architect’s work costing more than the agreed upon estimate, but that was likely bullshit. Organizers were probably happy to have a super expensive project that meant more graft to go around and then got caught and blamed the price tag on the architect.
Then the big whopper, that Abe heroically “decided” to postpone the Olympics, when he and his government were doing everything in their power to play down the coronavirus threat by restricting testing as much as possible, and insisting Japan would be safe and ready.
A day after International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound let it slip in an interview that the decision had already been made within the IOC to postpone – following word that the U.S. was poised to pull out and take the IOC’s American TV money lifeblood with it, Abe was allowed to be the face of the decision as if he was some kind of leader.
Not surprisingly, in the days after the postponement, with no more need to hold back, Japan’s coronavirus infection numbers in skyrocketed.
Still, it’s no way to die, regardless how one lives and lies. I would have preferred he had years to live with his conscience, assuming he had one.
The gunman was apparently a nutcase and former member of Japan’s military, who apparently had explosives stored in his apartment.
Japan has had a number of killing sprees over the years, mostly people running amok with knives on trains and in train stations, so it’s not like we don’t have our share of people prone to violence. But I am thankful every day that these people don’t generally have the right to carry concealed firearms or purchase semi-automatic rifles.
Tigers 8, Swallows 0: At Jingu Stadium, Koyo Aoyagi (9-1) threw a three-hitter and Koji Chikamoto shook off having his team-record 30-game hit streak snapped on Thursday by hitting a two-run homer and drawing a bases-loaded walk. The loss was Yakult’s third in four games.
BayStars 3, Giants 3, 12 innings: At Tokyo Dome, DeNA which has had a remarkably good late-inning record for a team with frequent bullpen blowups early in the season, wasted a gem from Shota Imanaga. The lefty, who threw a no-hitter in interleague, allowed one hit and hit one while striking out seven over eight innings.
Yasuaki Yamasaki blew the save when he surrendered Naoki Yoshikawa’s two-out ninth-inning homer. Taiki Sekine singled in two in the 11th, but Yomiuri dumped some “El Coffee” on that with Gregory Polanco’s game-tying two-run homer.
Dragons 9, Carp 2: At Nagoya Dome, Dayan Viciedo went 4-for-5, scored a run and drove in three, while Shuhei Takahashi also scored twice and drove in two as the Dragons punched out Carp ace Daichi Osera (7-5), scoring seven runs off him in three innings.
Fighters 4, Hawks 2, 10 innings: At Fukuoka Dome, SoftBank’s Colin Rea allowed two runs over six innings for his fourth straight quality start, and the Hawks came back to tie it 2-2 on a Taisei Makihara eighth-inning RBI single before Kazunari Ishii hit a two-run 10th-inning homer for the visitors.
Lions 8, Eagles 4: At Miyagi Stadium, Brian O’Grady hit his 10th and 11th home runs, allowing Seibu to overcome a rough sixth inning, when starting pitcher Kona Takahashi walked four straight with two outs before the hero of Wednesday’s game, rookie Takeru Sasaki surrendered a two-run single to Takero Okajima, one of the Eagles’ heroes from Friday.
O’Grady’s two-run second-inning home run made it 3-0 Lions. eighth-inning homer broke a 4-4 tie and put Seibu ahead for good.
Marines 6, Buffaloes 1: At Osaka Dome, Kota Futaki (2-1) threw seven scoreless innings, and Lotte’s Koki Yamaguchi continued to be a terror at the plate, driving in three runs for his sixth RBI in three games.
Saturday’s starting pitchers
Eagles vs Lions: Miyagi Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Buffaloes vs Marines: Kobe Green Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Hawks vs Fighters: Fukuoka Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Giants vs BayStars: Tokyo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Swallows vs Tigers: Jingu Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Dragons vs Carp: Nagoya Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Active roster moves 7/8/2022
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 7/18