Throwing On The Side
Changes are afoot in Japanese baseball. NPB brass met on May 13, and decided to phase out the practice of pitchers staying loose by playing catch in front of the dugout while their team is batting. The change is to take a effect following the All-Star break at ni-gun, and next season at ichi-gun.
The reason cited was to “comply with the rules of baseball”, but I see it as a move toward Westernization. In recent years we’ve sign the ban of ni-dan (two-stage) motions, a change to the American notation for balls and strikes (a full count used to be 2-3), and the introduction of a league standard ball, among other things. Most of these changes range from innocuous to good, but I wonder if they will eventually rob Pro Yakyu of a little of it’s character. And I miss the ni-dan motions.
In other news, the Central League asked for a reduction to the interleague schedule, to which the Pacific League responded with a vague “ongoing discussion”, or essentially death by bureaucracy. Neither league wants to give up valuable revenue-generating games with Yomiuri.
Finally, NPB announced that it’s investigating opening the 2014 with the Yomiuri Giants and Hanshin Tigers in Southern California. This news has been out there for a while and it seems that enthusiasm for the idea is growing. A final decision on the idea is now expected in June. Veteran baseball writer Wayne Graczyk has more on the plan, in an article published in April.