Friday, April 13, 2007

You Gotta Have Whaaa?

Robert Whiting, one of the forefathers of English-language coverage of Japanese baseball, author of books such as The Chrysanthemum and The Bat, You Gotta Have Wa and The Meaning of Ichiro, recently did a four-article series for the Japan Times on the effect of MLB on the NPB, and whether or not it's totally doomed or still has a chance to get its act together.

Part 1: Is the MLB destroying Japan's national pastime?
Is it all about the money? Does the NPB have a lesson or two to learn from the MLB in order to keep itself from becoming absorbed?

Part 2: Foreign managers change face of Japanese game
Cro and Enatsu mouth off, Bobby Valentine and Trey Hillman are great for English-language baseball writers, and a true World Series beyond the WBC will probably never actually happen.

Part 3: NPB needs major reform, vision to prosper like MLB
The team owners need to actually work together for the betterment of baseball, not for the betterment of the Yomiuri Giants. But I think we already all knew that. Also, some more backstory on how Japan viewed the WBC beforehand.

Part 4: NPB players in need of strong union like MLBPA
...because obviously ridiculously high salaries, plush travel conditions, and lots of attendants to pamper you are good things, and if the players in Japan had them too, the stars wouldn't jump overboard like it was a sinking ship. Wait a minute.

Overall, I agree with what Whiting has to say, though there are a few points I'd disagree with as well. And most of what's said in the articles isn't new to anyone who's been following the state of things for a while, though maybe it'll at least help to raise awareness of some of the issues. Personally, I'm pretty sure professional baseball will never die in Japan, but whether the current NPB structure can sustain itself is another story.

I'm going to Safeco tonight for the Mariners-Rangers game. It can't possibly be rained or snowed out! Yay!

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