Tag Archives: Matt Shoemaker

NPB news: Sept. 21, 2022

On a Central League Wednesday, with five teams battling for post-season positions, we had only one big showdown game, between Hiroshima and Hanshin, who started the day one back of the third-place Yomiuri Giants, whose manager Tatsunori Hara went all old school on us. In Nagoya, Munetaka Murakami had a difference of opinion about the strike zone with infamous umpire Kazuyuki Shirai.

Wednesday’s games

Giants 2, BayStars 1: At Yokohama Stadium, Hara pulled out all the stops, and by that I mean he waved his sacrifice bunt wand.

Hara had slugging catcher Takumi Oshiro bunt two runners into scoring position in the fifth from where the go-ahead run could score on a groundout. Cleanup hitter Sho Nakata, who singled in the game’s first run, was asked to lay one down in the sixth with two on and no out. He got the job done, the next batter walked to load the bases.

Wednesday’s trio of Pro Yakyu News analysts, Hiroki Nomura, Tsutomu Iwamoto and Kenji Tomashino were doing their job to hold up the righteousness of the sacrifice bunt.

“Having Nakata bunt electrified the Giants bench. It’s special,” Tomashino said, to which Nomura and Iwamoto heartily agreed.

Including the subsequent walk, the Giants responded to being electrified by going into offensive shock making outs in 11 of their final 12 plate appearances.

Continue reading NPB news: Sept. 21, 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