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What to do about the start of the season…

by on Mar.14, 2011 @ 8:47 pm, under NPB

The NPB will be holding  an emergency meeting tomorrow regarding the start of the season.  The league will also need to figure out what to do about night games as the government has called on people to conserve energy -- Tokyo Electric Company scheduled scheduled rolling blackouts beginning today and Tohoku Electric Company will begin tomorrow.

The Central and Pacific Leagues will also be holding emergency meetings tomorrow -- the Pacific League isn't sure if they'll be able to make any final decisions since they probably won't have enough information regarding Sendai and Chiba.  At this point, it seems entirely possible that the two leagues could start the season on different dates, since most CL teams haven't suffered much of any damages to their stadiums.

And some of the comments that have made the headlines:

Yu Darvish has questioned whether they should even be thinking about playing baseball at a time like this and thought that it might be best to delay the start of the season.

"There are still people out there that are missing, I'd like to see as many people saved as possible. ...  There are a lot of people in need right now, I'm not sure if this is the time to be playing baseball.  I'm a baseball player, but I'm also a person.  This is a very difficult time for me."

He also said - "This isn't the time to be throwing a ball and swinging a bat. ... We're no longer at the point where we can lift everyone's spirits by playing some baseball.  But I'll go along with whatever the people upstairs decide."

Senichi Hoshino is on the same page as Darvish and feels the start of the season should be delayed.

"The decisions become difficult if we're going to think about trying to start the season on time.  We need to keep things simple here."

Chiba Lotte Marines' operating director Akira Ishikawa and Softbank manager Koji Akiyama also feel that it would be best to delay the start of the season (Ishikawa figures a 2-3 week delay will be necessary; Akiyama is worried about the players' mental and emotional states).

On the other hand, the Giants would like the NPB to push forward with the start of the regular season on the 25th, as scheduled.

Club rep Hidetoshi Kiyotake - "We need to move forward if we are to rebuild.  Even if fans don't come out to the games, we need to show that Pro Yakyu is moving forward."

Since the Giants play indoors, they'll also need to figure out how they're going to handle the energy situation.

Hiroshima, Chunichi, and Hanshin also see no need to delay the start of the season, but the Bay Stars aren't feeling so strongly -- they're not only worried about the current energy situation, but also of the safety of their fans.

Hiroshima GM Kiyoaki Suzuki - "There will be blackouts, so there will be places that won't be able to play games.  Do we give up and wait, or do we try to use this as a way to provide support and play where we can...  I think we should go forward with the season."

Chunichi president Junnosuke Nishikawa - "I want to hear what the other clubs have to say [today], but I think...  Sendai is in a tough situation.  I think the entire league needs to help support Rakuten.  But last season, the CL and PL started at different times, so I don't see the need to have both leagues start on the same day."

Hanshin GM Shoji Numasawa - "It doesn't make sense to go as far as possible and then quit. ... And we can't afford to put econimic activity on hold.  And we will do what we can to help [other teams] and we'd also consider charity games."

Yokohama managing director Teiji Sato - "We need to seriously consider the [aftershock forecasts] made by the Meteorological Agency.  I plan on explaining this side of things carefully during the meeting.  And I hope the other 5 clubs will understand our situation."

And Masahiko Morino had a slightly different comment.

"I'd personally like to see the NPB step up and take leadership here and decide on a way to start the season so that all teams are on equal footing. ... Is it right that we can't play exhibition games, but we can play practice games?  There are also teams that can't even use their home stadium, that isn't fair [to them]."

What do all of you think?

Some other links of interest:

NPB still undecided on when to start the season (3/15)

Headlines from this morning regarding the start of the season (3/16)

Yokohama Bay Stars to allow foreign players to return to the US (3/16)

Seibu Lions: foreign players seeking permission to return home (3/16)

Players are against starting the season on the 25th (3/16)

Pacific League season could start on 4/12 (3/17)

(Updated 3/15 @ 9:12pm with some new quotes.)

22 comments on “What to do about the start of the season…

  1. Tim

    Yes, this is not the timing for the start. There are many people out there in danger and hunger. Everyone should focus on helping them.
    They can delay the start to sometime in late April.
    There is no point “to show that Pro Yakyu is moving forward” now.

    Reply
  2. Max

    Maybe they should move the teams back to Okinawa until everything cools off, or get the teams involved in the community as much as they can until a delayed season begins.

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  3. Bill

    I agree with the above. I read today that Hoshino has called for Rakuten’s home opener to be pushed back, and Akiyama’s saying that it can’t be avoided, delaying the start of the season. They make sense. A Giants official is quoted saying they’re rarin’ to go for their March 25th opener. Open the season ten days from today? Give it a rest. Push it back to sometime next month. I think the people are going to need some more time to really wrap their heads around the impact and scope of what’s happened, and how we’re going to be dealing with it from here on out. Baseball can wait.

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  4. Tom

    Delay a week, but, Play Baseball, Baseball is the fabric of Japan. In the States when 9/11 happened, it gave the people some strength and pride. Maybe the players can shake hands after every game as to show support for the nation as two teams as one. Maybe a specail patch on the uniforms to for those lost.

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  5. EJH

    Tom: The American style shoulder patch simply means “sorry all those people are dead and homeless, but there’s money to be made so PLAY BALL!!!”

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  6. Deanna

    I disagree. If the players want to help the places in need, they should not only start the season on time, but they should set up donation boxes at every game. Collect money, collect food, clothes, etc at the stadiums. Give people a discount on tickets if they bring a can of food to donate to earthquake relief to the park. Have the JRC set up blood donation tents in front of the stadium. Plenty of baseball fans have friends in Sendai, especially the PL team fans — they want to help, make it easier for them.

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  7. Jim

    I think it should be delayed, but I also agree that baseball should be there to lift people’s spirits. I also agree with Deanna’s idea on stuff for the fans if they donate to the relief efforts.

    I can understand why some want to try to start the season on time, but a delay gives the Marines and Eagles time to find temporary homes, much in the same way that the New Orleans Saints played at the Alamodome and LSU’s Tiger Stadium. I can see both teams going to Okinawa or possibly Shikoku and playing there until their respective stadiums are repaired or are safe to play in.

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  8. Dennis

    I play for the Carp. I lost a family member on 9/11 and I saw what happened with Katrina, we can not start this season on time. This is time to be spending with your family. Baseball is a game, not life. I left my new born baby, wife, and other daughter at home so I can come back here and have this nuclear meltdown loom over me. Who wants to play baseball like that. This is stupid. Delay the start and give the people of Japan time to mourn and collect themselves.

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  9. Kozo

    I feel a middle ground solution in which the regular season (the start of the 144 game campaign for the pennant) should be delayed, but the NPB should schedule some exhibition games in its stead.

    With the power shortage situation and continued uncertainty permeating the air I don’t think launching a 6 games a week season would be good for the league or its players. But I think the Tigers/Giants game showed that baseball can be a welcome relief and a platform for fund raising and awareness. I think people would like to see some baseball, but I don’t think they care too much as to who actually wins those games.

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  10. Igor

    I really think it should be delayed. It’s unconceivable to start the season with a part of the country at the brink of a nuclear disaster.
    There are other priorities right now. Show must not go on.

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  11. muratafan

    I think NPB should delay opening day by a week. At that time, uncertainties should be resolved. If Japan doesn’t know the impact of Fukushima by opening day, there is too much uncertainty in the general population to ‘move on’. Once things settle down, then start the season. In America, the immediate days after 9/11, games were canceled primarily because no one really knew if there would be another attack. A similar situation here in Japan since – hopefully not – there may be more radiation leaks, tremblor, etc..

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  12. Eric Lord

    I’m leaning towards starting on time. Remember that first Yankees game a week after 9/11, when Dubya threw out the first pitch for a strike and everyone went nuts? Or the Saints bringing home the Lombardi trophy and what that meant to the people of New Orleans after Katrina? Professional sport can help lift people’s spirits. We’ve seen it before.

    Of course, I’m not a player, just a fan. The comment from Dennis (guess that’s Dennis Sarfate?) should carry the most weight here. If the players and the league feel that delaying is the best option, I’m fine with that. I just think it would be a bit of a waste of a chance to give people something to cheer for.

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    1. Dennis

      You are talking about lighting a stadium using energy for baseball, when people don’t even have power to there house. Use your head, baseball don’t matter right now.

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    2. bbdad

      Dennis…respectfully, are you going to also shut down sumo, golf, tennis, all industrial legues, high school, college, karate, independent baseball, football, all sports?? When does the country begin to move forward…where do you draw the line? When do you say it’s ok to begin again? The suffering is horrible, but people need to have a sense of stability and normalness to recover. Sport has always been the cornerstone of everyday life for Japan and the US…I agree with your basic premise of have and have not, but I believe our strong will to survive and overcome as humans will overcome the dispair that currently exists. Believe that Hope, Faith and Charity will prevail.

      Reply
    3. Gen Post author

      I obviously can’t speak for Dennis, but tensions are fairly high and spirits are fairly low, especially as you go further up North.

      IMHO, I don’t really think there’s a right or wrong answer with regards to when to start the season. I think there are valid arguments on both sides and regardless of what’s decided, there are going to be people that aren’t happy.

      Regarding the power shortages… NHK apparently just issued a warning that there might be blackouts because the weather has gotten colder today and people are using too much electricity for heat.

      Devil’s Advocate here: what happens if playing a game at Tokyo Dome pushes the power grid and causes a blackout?

      My only real beef is this: if the NPB is going to start the season on time, shift all games in the Kanto region to day games until the energy shortage passes. That would also mean moving all dome games in the Kanto region (if it’s just the CL, then you’re talking the Yomiuri Giants) to open-air stadiums. Teams in the Kanto region should probably also refrain from using this like the jumbotron and music.

      If the NPB (or CL in this case) is willing to go this far, I think there might be more support for it.

      FYI: I’m neither for or against starting the season on time.

      Reply
    4. Igor

      I totally agree with Dennis.
      I think some people here don’t really realize how disgraceful and dangerous is the situation, not only in Tohoku, but also in Kanto.
      We are at the brink of a nuclear disaster and you are talking about starting the season? People are starving and freezing and you want to “cheer”? Are you sane?

      Reply
    5. Gen Post author

      @Igor – No need to go that far. If you disagree, simply say so. Times are already tough as it is. Is it really necessary to add to that pain?

      Reply
  13. Christopher

    I would say start on time – it is important to restore as much normality as possible as soon as possible. However, I do think that all proceeds from the first week should be donated to earthquake relief.

    Reply
  14. bbdad

    Ok…if you delay the season, lets say 2 weeks. Those games will never be made up so let’s say 5 games per team(12) X 2 weeks or about 120 games. Let’s say 30,000 fans per @ $50 per fan ( not sure of the avg ticket) but that’s ok. So, that works out to a loss of 180 million US or 14.5 billion yen. That would be devastating! So, why not start the season, and donate 1/2 of all ticket prices to the relief effort…or cut the prices in half, pack the house and donate 1/2 of the the ticket prices to the effort. Rather than losing 14.5 billion yen totally, you would still cover some expenses at 1/2 price, donate a ton of $$, lift the spirits of 3.5 million fans and let them have a part in rebuilding the Northern region.
    My son plays in Japan and yes I am worried…however as he said, this is their life, baseball, and their passion, so lets play ball! I write this with all due respect to all of the Japanese people and their fight to rebuild their countrys’ losses.

    Reply
  15. Lady Dragon

    I wish they would move all the games to America. Here we have many stadiums and a lot of fans. Gods way of bringing the Japanese and Americans together and band together as Brothers.

    Reply

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