Tag Archives: Olympics

NPB wrap 7-10-21

Baseball behind closed doors

When Tokyo’s Olympic organizers decided that the best way to have the Olympics that were “100 percent going to be held in front of crowds starting on July 24, 2020” actually take place starting on July 23, 2021, was to hold them behind closed doors, a door was left open for fans to attend the events held outside Tokyo and its neighbouring prefectures.

That door began to close on Friday when Hokkaido asked that no fans would be admitted to soccer games at Sapporo Dome, and on Saturday, when Fukushima prefecture followed suit by asking that its venue, Azuma Stadium in Fukushima, bar fans. This means that no fans will be able to attend any of the Olympic baseball or softball games.

The Olympic farce is now coming full circle. To promote the games, and the need for Japan to host them, they were billed as the “Reconstruction Olympics,” to assist in the recovery of the northeastern prefectures ravaged by the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami and the subsequent nuclear disaster in Fukushima.

Of course, that was all for show in order for money and grift to be syphoned off and pocketed in Tokyo. If the government really gave a rat’s ass about the Tohoku region, it could have wisely invested billions of dollars on education, tech and infrastructure there instead of on things like torch relays and PR campaigns to show how spending money on Tokyo was important to rebuild Japan’s northeast Pacific coast.

There was also baseball

On Friday, Nippon Professional Baseball entered its final week before it goes into summer hibernation for its all-star games and the Olympics. A day after both league leaders won on Friday, both lost on Saturday.

The Pacific League-leading Orix Buffaloes suffered a 3-1 loss in Fukuoka to the fourth-place SoftBank Hawks, who are 4-1/2 back. The Rakuten Eagles lost to fall into third, with the Lotte Marines pulling out a 4-4 tie with Nippon Ham to move into second although in a virtual tie with Rakuten.

In the Central League, the second-place Yomiuri Giants whipped the Hanshin Tigers, trimming the leaders’ cushion to 2-1/2 games, while the third-place Swallows fell to the last-place Hiroshima Carp to say 4-1/2 off the pace. The Chunichi Dragons won to move within 7-1/2 games of the Swallows.

Hawks 3, Buffaloes 1

At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, SoftBank’s Nick Martinez (7-2) struck out nine while allowing a run over six innings, while Yuki Yanagita drove in two home runs with his 19th homer and scored the other for the Hawks.

The Buffaloes took a 1-0 lead on a third-inning Yuma Mune RBI double, only for the Hawks to get their first hit with two outs in the home half, a Masaki Mori single followed by Yanagita’s blast off Sachiya Yamasaki (4-6).

Cuban lefty Livan Moinelo pitched his first game for the Hawks since May 23, having been away with his national team, struck out Adam Jones to complete a scoreless eighth before Sho Iwasaki recorded his second save.

Lions 6, Eagles 2

At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park, Seibu’s Tatsuya Imai (6-3) issued seven walks, hit a batter, allowed four hits over seven innings, but only one run, while the visitors tattooed former Lions ace Hideaki Wakui (6-6) for six runs over three innings.

Marines 4, Fighters 4

At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Lotte’s Leonys Martin tied it with a two-run home run, his PL-leading 20th. Nippon Ham’s Yushi Shimizu regained the visitors’ lead in the eighth with a solo homer, but the Marines manufactured a tying run in the home half on a one-out Brandon Laird walk, a Koshiro Wada stolen base, a throwing error and a sacrifice fly for Martin’s third RBI of the game.

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Giants 8, Tigers 1

At Koshien Stadium, Yomiuri lefty C.C. Mercedes (5-1) allowed a run over 7-2/3 innings, and the Giants worked over rookie lefty Masashi Ito (5-5) for six runs, five earned, over four innings to take the loss for Hanshin.

The Giants loaded the bases in the first on Hayato Sakamoto’s double and a pair of walks before Zelous Wheeler singled in the first run. Takayuki Kajitani was hurt when hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, two more runs scored on a ground out and an error.

Wheeler hit his 10th homer, Sakamoto his 11th and Kazuma Okamoto his CL-leading 26th, while Jerry Sands accounted for the Tigers’ lone run with his 16th.

Carp 5, Swallows 0

At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Hiroshima rookie Haruki Omichi (4-2) allowed two singles and a walk over seven-plus innings and three relievers retired the final six batters. Rookie Carp catcher Tomoki Ishihara singled in two runs in the second off Juri Hara (0-1), who was pulled after 3-2/3 innings. Shogo Sakakura made it 3-0 in the eighth with his third home run.

Dragons 6, BayStars 2

At Vantelin Dome Nagoya, Chunichi’s Takahiro Matsuba (1-2) was able to pitch out of trouble with the exception of surrendering a two-run sixth-inning home run to Neftali Soto, his 15th. The lefty allowed eight hits but no walks while striking out four. Kosuke Fukudome reached base four times, doubled, scored twice and drove in an insurance run with his second home run.

Starting pitchers

Pacific League

Eagles vs Lions: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Ryota Takinaka (5-4, 4.91) vs Zach Neal (1-3, 4.04)

Marines vs Fighters: Zozo Marine Stadium 5 pm, 4 am EDT

Kazuya Ojima (5-2, 4.40) vs Kazuaki Tateno (1-0, 3.07)

Hawks vs Buffaloes: PayPay Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Tsuyoshi Wada (4-5, 4.48) vs Hiroya Miyagi (9-1, 1.96)

Central League

Swallows vs Carp: Jingu Stadium 5:30 pm, 4:30 am EDT

Masanori Ishikawa (3-2, 2.84) vs Masato Morishita (5-4, 2.51)

Dragons vs BayStars: Vantelin Dome (Nagoya) 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Akiyoshi Katsuno (3-5, 3.58) vs Fernando Romero (0-2, 7.80)

Tigers vs Giants: Koshien Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Yuki Nishi (4-5, 3.41) vs Yuki Takahashi (8-3, 2.71)

Active roster moves 7/10/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 7/20

Central League


DragonsP38Takahiro Matsuba
BayStarsP14Kenta Ishida
BayStarsIF6Keito Mori
SwallowsP16Juri Hara


GiantsP20Shosei Togo
DragonsP11Shinnosuke Ogasawara
BayStarsP67Yuki Ariyoshi
BayStarsIF31Tatsuhiro Shibata
CarpP65Shogo Tamamura
SwallowsP47Keiji Takahashi

Pacific League


HawksIF00Hikaru Kawase
BuffaloesP37Hayate Nakagawa
BuffaloesOF41Kodai Sano


HawksP18Shota Takeda
BuffaloesP18Yoshinobu Yamamoto
BuffaloesP46Hitomi Honda
BuffaloesP63Soichiro Yamazaki

Operation Olympic

As the summer progresses toward July 23, there is no good news, only optimism and warnings as Japan dreads 10s of thousands of invaders descending on Tokyo in what seems like all intent and purposes like a hostile invasion.

The only stories one reads in Japan about the Olympics themselves are those complaining about it, and those defending it, saying it “won’t be that bad,” and regardless of the human cost, “we can’t afford to lose it.”

All of the external bullshit once considered necessary newsworthy components, Japan’s 144-day maniacal revisioning of Nazi-Germany’s Olympic torch relay, the big events, the celebrations? Endless upbeat stories about Japan’s athletes? All that news has disappeared.

If you don’t look at the Tokyo Olympic homepage, you wouldn’t know the torch relay is still going on. News outlets have gotten bored with it, only doing stories when towns, cities and prefectures tell the Olympic organizers they don’t want it on their doorstep.

This week President Joe Biden endorsed Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s plan for a safe Olympics. That plan can be summarized as follows: 1) Have the Olympics. 2) Say they’re going to be safe, despite the fact that only a tiny fraction of Japanese residents have been vaccinated. 3) Deal with the consequences afterward.

I doubt the president’s staff actually looked into the situation, because really endorsing it would be like putting a Good Housekeeping seal for cleanliness on a prison’s gas chamber.

Until February, when there were questions about whether Tokyo would actually hold the Olympics and not close its borders to Olympians, the International Olympic Committee was working overtime to find a safe way to hold them and was actually doing research to develop best practices. But by April, the actionable plans began to be ridiculed as inadequate by epidemiologists and FINA, the international aquatics federation, which wanted to pull all its final Olympic qualifiers out of Tokyo.

As planning progressed, the ability of Japan to hold safe sporting events with crowds was touted as part of the evidence that the games could be done the right way.

While shouting to everyone that will listen that the games will be safe, IOC President Thomas Bach has twice put off scheduled trips to Japan because, well, it’s not safe. “No corners will be cut,” he said as the IOC has now decided that corners can safely be cut because Japan won’t back out.

In parts of Japan this weekend, baseball games were once more held behind closed doors, because well, it has been considered the best practice. But although organizers have technically not ruled out holding events behind closed doors, Suga has reportedly made up his mind that fans will be in the stands.

“The Olympics will be held even if Tokyo is under a state of emergency,” Australian IOC member John Coates said.

It’s like watching “A Bridge Too Far” over and over on a loop. We keep seeing the same blind optimism and foreshadowing over and over until nothing is news anymore. This movie, of course, would be named “Operation Olympic,” which was also the name of the planned first phase of a U.S.-led invasion of southern Kyushu 76 years ago.

Unfortunately for this year, the Japanese government shows no sign of surrendering, of abandoning this monumental disaster, and instead is committed to fighting on, regardless of the cost in human lives.

The best thing that can be said for it is this year’s late summer disaster movie is that there is no guarantee it will in fact be a disaster.