Tsuneo Watanabe, Chairman of the Yomiuri Giants, pulled a 180 on his stance of having Senichi Hoshino return as manager of Team Japan for the World Baseball Classic. It appears as though all the negative press Hoshino garnered after returning from Beijing without a medal has made him rethink his stance.
When Watanabe was recently asked who he felt might be a good candidate to manage Team Japan at the World Baseball Classic, he said "There's only Wan-chan [Sadaharu Oh 王貞治]. ... If you were to pick a manager amongst men, Hoshino would be the best choice. But for the Olympics and for the WBC, you need a god. And Wan-chan is god amongst men. That's why we all need to get down on our hands and knees and beg him to take on the task, he's our only hope."
Watanabe added that, "Win or lose, if the team starts to bad-mouth the manager, that's not a good thing. Everyone is taking apart the manager [Hoshino] right now. That's why, win or lose, we need a manager that commands respect regardless of the final outcome.
"When it comes to the WBC, we need to also ask our Japanese players in the Majors to join us. And the only guy that can do that is Wan-chan."
Sadaharu Oh has taken the stance of declining the position due to health reasons, but Watanabe even had something to say about this. "Even I had cancer. Wan-chan's cancer is no big deal. [Shigeo] Nagashima (長嶋茂雄) is a little sick. There is only one god and it's Wan-chan."
While Watanabe's word doesn't carry any official weight, the fact that Yomiuri Shinbun is sponsoring the first round of the World Baseball Classic does. And since Watanabe is the head of the paper, his words will carry some weight.
Ironically, or perhaps coincidentally, Watanabe was in the same exact place last month when he said, "Who else is there other than Hoshino [to manage at the World Baseball Classic]."
BTW: if you're wondering why Watanabe refers to Sadaharu Oh as "Wan-chan," it's because that's what his nickname was during his playing days. It's also apparently the pronunciation of his last name in Chinese (Zhenzhi Wang).
Nikkan Sports - 渡辺会長「土下座しても」ＷＢＣ王監督