Tag Archives: Dietrich Enns

NPB news plus: Aug. 28, 2022

I didn’t do my weekly subscriber’s newsletter tonight, so today’s post is more like the usual newsletter than just the day’s wrap. If you like it, then maybe you should sign up for the newsletter or better yet, (shameless plug) become a paid subscriber.

It’s still August and I’m wondering if I’m running out of superlatives for Munetaka Murakami, after he spent the weekend polishing his MVP credentials at the expense of the DeNA BayStars.

Japan’s media has already mentioned he’s on track to set the “Japanese home run record” which isn’t a thing, but if it were, wouldn’t be the one they’re talking about.

And because the baseball media revolves around squeezing “Giants” into a headline to increase clicks, stories are now circulating about how the 22-year-old is on the verge of tying Hideki Matsui’s career high of 50 home runs from 30 years ago.

Sunday wasn’t all about Murakami, though.

Kodai Senga, who entered the season as one of the most talked about players in Japan due to his upcoming international free agency, returned from a bout with COVID and was really good, while Yomiuri Giants manager Tatsunori Hara, questioned the manhood of his players, making one wonder how long it will be before he leaks to the press, again, that he is keen to serve out the rest of his three-year contract so they won’t fire his ass.


The Swallows’ slugger’s new nickname is a play on the first character of his name “Mura” and “kamisama” God.

Murakami is now on pace to tie Wladimir Balentien’s 60-homer Japan single season record, although odds are strong that he won’t. I remember Balentien being on a pace to hit 64 at one point.

But in 35 years of carefully following Japanese baseball, I only remember two players who were spoken about the way broadcast crews are now talking about Murakami: Alex Cabrera in 2001 and Balentien in 2013.

Continue reading NPB news plus: Aug. 28, 2022

NPB News: July 20, 2022

We came oh so close to another no hitter on Wednesday, while coronavirus cases continue to surge in Japan, shining a light on Nippon Professional Baseball’s unexpected compassion.

There have been four no-hit shutouts in Japan this year, which ties 2022 with 1943 for second most in a season after the five thrown in 1940, when pitchers threw balls of mush.

We also hit a new record for coronavirus cases, crossing the 150,000 barrier just five days after we passed 110,000 for the first time. The positivity rate in Tokyo was down to 41.8 percent but that’s way above the norm so as testing increases, you know it’s going to soar a bit more before it calms down.

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And we thought they were the assholes

While Japanese pro baseball still prohibits vocal cheering at its games, full crowds are now a thing, and players have been let off the tight leash they were on in 2020 and 2021.

The one part of the NPB picture that has barely budged since the introduction of strict coronavirus measures when NPB re-opened for business in the pandemic on June 19, 2020, has been media access to players.

We are not allowed to enter clubhouses at any time, but we do have unlimited access to dugouts, the sidelines, and most stadium corridors players have to traverse. In those spaces, we are free to talk to anyone we like, although now and then some officious PR type will harass us when players chat a long time.

Since NPB restarted two years ago, reporters have been banned from areas where players are. Many parks require advance notice of reporters who intend to report on game.

Team media availability is strictly limited to online pressers, although this year, one member of the media, who has returned a negative test, is typically allowed into the room for each team participant, and they and they alone can ask one player or coach questions. Nobody else online is allowed to participate.

During the pandemic, teams’ social media presence has exploded to fill the gap. Between that and the relaxing of most other coronavirus restrictions on players and fans, it seemed like reporters were intentionally being shoved aside with teams using the coronavirus as an excuse to be rid of us.

But on Wednesday, it occurred to me that the teams, were not being draconian toward the media but instead have been trying to keep us safe from being infected by the droves of players who are contracting the virus.

So here’s to NPB. Thanks for looking out for us.

Giant trouble

The Yomiuri Giants jumped on the corona train big time on Wednesday. As if they were embarrassed to be outdone by the Yakult Swallows having 14 people with their major league club go into isolation for COVID-19, the Giants reported 20 positive test results. Fourteen infections were among players, six among the coaching staff according to Nikkan Sports.

Continue reading NPB News: July 20, 2022