The rumblings in Japan regarding who should be the manager at the next World Baseball Classic are getting stronger. I was watching a sports TV show last night called J-Spo and they were running a live ballot during the program asking viewers who they felt deserved to be manager.
Here were the results:
23,061 - Katsuya Nomura (野村克也) 18,943 - Sadaharu Oh (王貞治) 11,600 - Atsuya Furuta (古田敦也) 9,741 - Senichi Hoshino (星野仙一) 8,189 - Bobby Valentine 5,764 - Hiromitsu Ochiai (落合博満) 4,710 - Tatsunori Hara (原辰徳) 3,625 - Tsutomu Wakamatsu (若松勉) 3,610 - Trey Hillman 3,500 - Akinobu Okada (岡田彰布)
Right off the bat (no pun intended), I think you can more or less remove Trey Hillman off the list because I have a feeling the Kansas City Royals ogranization would never grant him permission. So unless he's fired, his name shouldn't even be considered. Then there's Katsuya Nomura, who has gone on record a number of times to say that he has no interest in managing. Bobby Valentine is an interesting option, but depending on what his status is after the end of the season, his name might have to be removed as well. As far as I know, Sadaharu Oh hasn't definitively declined any suggestions, but also hasn't shown any interest in returning as the manager. There is also the question of his health -- after having gastric bypass surgery performed a few years back, I'm not sure if he'd be able to handle the load.
And then there were 6.
Of the remaining 6 mangers, 3 are currently active: Hiromitsu Ochiai (Chunichi Dragons), Tatsunori Hara (Yomiuri Giants), and Akinobu Okada (Hanshin Tigers). Of these three, Ochiai's name has been mentioned the most, but as of late, Hara's name has also begun appearing.
From left: Furuta, Okada, Ochiai and Hara
Yukan Fuji recently interviewed Haruki Ihara (伊原春樹), Head Coach for the Giants, and asked him who he thought might be a good manager for Team Japan at the World Baseball Classic. His reply?
"What about our guy? He's an active manager, and I think he's gained the respect of his peers and players. Plus, he's got the Yomiuri organization."
Of course he would recommend his boss. But it's not necessarily without merit. After falling behind the Hashin Tigers by as many as 13 games earlier this season, the Giants have managed to inch back into the race and now trail by only 4 games. If the Giants actually manage to overtake the Tigers, this may end up being one of the most exciting finishes to a season in NPB history.
Then there's the minor matter of the Yomiuri oganization. While the Giants have continued to state that they support Hoshino, some are beginning to wonder if they would really be able to resist the idea of having one of their own managing on the world stage. And don't forget that the Yomiuri Shinbum will be sponsoring the first round of the World Baseball Classic (for Pool A) at the Tokyo Dome.
Incidentally, if you're wondering why active managers are now being pushed further to the forefront... There is a debate going on right now as to whether or not Hoshino's mistakes were brought on by being away from the game for too long. The argument here is that there's a difference between analyzing players away from the field than as manager. I'm not sure if I necessarily agree, but I suppose I can see it when it comes to handling the bullpen.
Yukan Fuji: Â“原Â”ＷＢＣ待望論Â…逆転Ｖなら、ひょっとする！？