My opinion, in a word: Yes.
Teams have cancelled most of, if not all, of their preseason games, although teams are still playing practice games to stay in shape for opening day. (I guess the idea is that if there are no fans there, it conserves power and reduces the risk of danger to fans in earthquake-shaken stands.)
And some players (Darvish being one that gets quoted a lot) say things like, "How can we even think about playing baseball at a time like this?"
But here's the thing. If you're not going to play baseball, what are you going to do? How exactly are you justifying not playing? Baseball brings distraction and entertainment to millions of people. It brings groups of people together in a way that a lot of other things do not. Not starting the season on time is going to disrupt social ties in some pretty big ways -- and this at a time where people need to get together with friends and family and just be glad to be alive and to be together, right?
And moreso, if you're not going to play baseball, then you should be spending your time trying to help the quake victims, right? But how exactly are you going to do that? Going to the worst of the ravaged areas is NOT the right thing for tons of people to do -- reading Daisuke Wakabayashi's twitter convinced me of that much. (Forwarded from Simon, who also works at the WSJ.) There are organizations and trained rescue workers and such who'll be doing that, and what we've been hearing all along is, "If you want to help... donate."
So. NPB, that's exactly what you need to do here.
The Giants and Tigers played a preseason game at Gifu Nagarakawa Stadium yesterday and put out donation boxes and supposedly collected over a million yen for earthquake relief! From only 14,000 fans or so! The flags were at half-mast, and there was a 30-second moment of silence for the lives lost in the quake. But clearly, people want to see baseball and to be together and help others at a time like this.
Seriously. Donate a portion of the proceeds from each game to the earthquake. Or have donation boxes at the gates. Get efforts together to have places to donate clothes, food, etc at each game. Offer a 100 yen ticket discount for people who bring a can of food to donate to the earthquake. Have the JRC set up blood donation booths outside the stadium, or even inside the stadium.
What to do about Rakuten's team and the stadium, I'm not entirely sure. Opening Weekend was supposed to be up there between the Marines and Eagles, so maybe those would have to be moved elsewhere. But other than that, I think that really, the best way for players to help the earthquake victims is to play ball and raise money for them.
(BTW... I'm supposed to fly to Japan tomorrow. I'm still kind of planning to, though I know it might be kind of crazy.)