Tag Archives: Olympics

The Olympic tourney

I loved this confusing Tokyo Olympic baseball tournament format vastly more than I liked trying to explain it, and for the first time since 1996 the most talented team in the tournament managed to cope with the extreme pressure that comes as a Japanese Olympic favorite.

For the first eight innings against the Dominican Republic, Japan’s hitters were, Jim Bouton once wrote, “so tight they squeaked when they walked.” Masahiro Tanaka had one bad inning and Koyo Aoyagi had two. Other than that, they played up to their ability as a whole, and did well.

The Japan team which could field a lineup of eight middle-of-the-order guys as it did against South Korea in Wednesday’s semifinal, was like a walking, breathing embodiment of Japanese baseball small-ball dogma.

Samurai Japan finished next to last in doubles, home runs and Isolated Power, surpassing only a Mexico roster deprived of 2019 Premier 12 hero Matt Clark.

Japan got on base better than any team other than the other pro team, South Korea, which grounded into a tournament-high five double plays, and led the field with 61 runners left on base.

There were 14 sacrifices in the tournament, half by Japan, which accounted for nine of the tournament’s 23 stolen bases. There were 27 total stolen base attempts, none against Japan, which led all six teams in turning double plays with seven.

Japan didn’t mash, but among the five top teams only South Korea was better than Japan at putting the ball in play.

As expected in a tournament mixing active elite professional players with others in various stages of retirement or development, Japan and South Korea were the best at putting the ball in play as hitters, and striking out opposing batters.

Defensively, we could see how well Japan played, but Japan’s pitchers allowed the second-highest BABIP in the tournament, .339, a result which absolutely screams “small sample size” and makes their 2.28 ERA quite remarkable considering how often balls found holes. Of course, they could survive that because they walked the fewest hitters, and allowed a tournament-low two home runs.

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Flash: Olympics beat COVID

In Saturday’s stupid news of the day, we were informed that the Tokyo Olympics have provided the solution to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have shown it is possible to keep the pandemic at bay. And that is a very important lesson from Tokyo to the rest of the world.”

–Brian McCloskey, chair of the Independent Expert Panel for the Olympics according to Kyodo News, Aug. 7, 2021

In other words if you can seal off the world, test, trace and treat, with vaccines available to all, then the coronavirus can be kept at bay.

My ballpark figure from a week ago, had Japan’s push to stage the Olympics costing the nation a 7,500 unnecessary deaths, and that number will probably go up, but let’s all celebrate the successful experiment stewarded by the loving hand of the International Olympic Committee.

The IOC is a parasite that wraps itself in the attractive morsel of an Olympic games, which Japan’s leaders eagerly swallowed whole, and which has reduced its ability to deal with the pandemic, because feeding and sustaining the parasite took precedence over its own wellbeing.

But why on earth would anyone ingest that poison? Because the Olympics represent a basket of goodies for winning bidders.

They allow organizers and power brokers to indulge their desires, either to show how progressive they are or to cultivate their racist nationalistic agendas, to repay political debts to invest in infrastructure and collect bribes from contractors.

Not only do they cost money to acquire, they require care and feeding, but those costs are never born by those who get their share of the benefits.

Thanks to the wonderful work of Jake Adelstein in the Daily Beast, we learned this past week that had organizing committee president Yoshiro Mori not been forced out, “pure Japanese” Hideki Matsui would have lit the Olympic cauldron instead of Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka, whose father is Haitian.

In another Daily Beast article, Adelstein explained how influential elites used the games to dole out favors, with former prime minister Shintaro Abe forcing the opening ceremony to include music from an ultranationalist xenophobic composer who is a big Abe contributor.

Outside the box

Outside the gates of the Olympic village and the venues, the coronavirus, runs on unchecked. the positivity rate for coronavirus testing in Tokyo has been climbing steadily since the middle of June. It was 3.9 percent on June 11, when roughly 8,000 tests were recorded per day. On Friday, Aug. 6, it was 22.3 percent while total tests have only increased to around 1,300 a day while confirmed infections have soared.

As a Tokyo resident, the news that the Tokyo Olympics have solved the problem amid this huge surge in infections would be a huge source of relief if it had anything to do with the real world and wasn’t some masturbatory release by those concerned about the Olympic self image.

Not only were Olympic volunteers urged to delay their second vaccinations over concerns venues would lack proper staffing, but Japan discovered the first case of the Lambda COVID strain days before the Olympics and declined to inform the public.

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