Archive > March 2014


» 10 March 2014 » In something else » 6 Comments

It’s been three years since the devastating Tohoku Earthquake. I’ll never forget where I was when I found out, but more than that I’ll never forget the tension of the next several weeks, with the instability of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and the many significant aftershocks looming over Tohoku, Japan, and the extended region. While the subsequent weeks and months came and went without an additional tsunami-scale disaster, the Tohoku region is still recovering, and the threats of Fukushima’s irradiation linger. “Ganbarou Tohoku” remains an important concept. I don’t think I have any profound commentary here, but on this anniversary I’m renewing my hope that the Tohoku region’s recovery presses onward, and that the world is better prepared for the next natural disaster.

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Following Japanese Baseball, Part 3: Watching Online

» 08 March 2014 » In npb » 16 Comments

Alas, this page is outdated. Most notably, shut it’s doors last August. Look out for a 2015 revision in the next week or so. Also, NPB, if you’re reading this, people want to watch your games online.

This is part 3 in a multi-part series. Part one on English-language news sources and blogs on Japanese baseball can be found here; part two on online communities is here.

During the season, the question I am most frequently asked is “how can I watch Japanese baseball games?” Unfortunately NPB’s online media efforts to date aren’t quite on par with; this is an area where NPB collectively should take a good, hard look at what MLB Advanced Media has done and try to emulate it. But fortunately, there are a few options out there:

  • The Pacific League streams games online via it’s Pa League TV service (link to a Japanese site). It costs JPY 1500 (about $15) per month, and I haven’t tried it in previous seasons because it tends to be unavailable outside Japan. They do have highlights that I’ve been able to watch so far this year, however. Since this is a Pacific League service, Central League games (except for interleague) are not broadcast.
  • American cable tv network One World Sports began broadcasting Yomiuri Giants home games last season, both live and on tape delay. This would be a great option for many US viewers, but unfortunately One World Sports doesn’t seem to be widely carried on cable systems yet. They do provide programming online, so hopefully that includes Giants games this year.
  • Some teams officially stream some of their games and workouts. Here are the ones I know of: Softbank Hawks, Chunichi Dragons, Pacific League.
  • Less officially, it’s pretty easy to find games streamed on services like and Twitter users such as @spartiecat and @yakyunightowl frequently tweet out the streams they find, and the Reddit NPB wiki includes a guide for finding streams. archives broadcasts for some users, which is helpful for people like me who can’t necessarily watch games in the Japanese time zone.
  • And last but not least, while this is not live video, blog sites We Love Marines and Tokyo Swallows post game reports for Lotte and Yakult respectively.

The normal disclaimer goes here: if there’s another option I’ve neglected to include, please drop me a line.

Using a combination of all these techniques, a US-based yakyu otaku like me can reasonably watch NPB a couple times a week. What I would really like to have is a paid service, with every game in both leagues available live and on demand available without geographic restrictions, that works on my TV, computer, iPhone and iPad. If something like that was available I would gladly pay about JPY 20,000 ($200) a year for it. Pa League TV is reasonably priced though; if that works outside of Japan once the regular season begins I’ll probably give it a shot.

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Following Japanese Baseball, Part 2: Pro Yakyu Communities

» 06 March 2014 » In npb » 11 Comments

This is part 2 in a multi-part series. Part one on English-language news sources and blogs on Japanese baseball can be found here.

Back in the nascent years of Pro Yakyu otaku-ism, when I was interested in Japanese baseball but lacked the requisite language skills, I had one source of information: I discovered it one day in 1997 or ’98, when I decided to type into Netscape’s location bar and see if there was anything there. To my great benefit, there was, and over the years I learned a lot from reading through the forum postings.

Communities are important; no one has a monopoly on information and ideas. This site is kind of like my own monologue but it’s benefited from the discussion contributions of commenters like passerby, EJH, and Westbaystars, to name a few; and the other writers who have written articles for the site. At it’s peak, was a shining example of an online community, with many engaged posters, thoughtfully moderated by Westbaystars.’s forums haven’t gone away, but the aren’t quite as active as they once were. Over the past year or so, a couple of alternatives have emerged:

  • The Pro Yakyu Google+ group, curated by Michael Westbay. This group is open to the public, and I am member. This is a great way to stay on top of NPB news and podcasts.
  • An NPB Reddit community popped up last July probably in the last month or two (I discovered it via referral traffic). In addition to news postings, there are some community-oriented topics like this one.

It takes real work to maintain an online community, so my appreciation goes out to Westbay-san and the mystery man who moderates NPB Reddit. If you’re looking for more places to keep up with Japanese baseball, I heartily recommend all of the above options.

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Following Japanese Baseball, Part 1: Online Text

» 03 March 2014 » In npb » 21 Comments

Back when I announced my return to writing, one of the topics I intended to pursue was some guidelines for how to follow Japanese baseball without know the Japanese language. It took me almost a year to get to it, but here we are.

One of my frequently asked questions is “how can I follow Japanese baseball from the US?” I’m happy to say that thanks to the Web, it’s pretty doable. But unfortunately some of this stuff is fairly well-hidden, my hope is to have something of a guide available. My plan is to break this into three or four posts: this one for writers, another for Twitter, one for video, and then any miscellany if necessary.

On with the show. If you want to read up on NPB or Japanese baseball in general, you now have plenty of options. Here are my favorites:

The Beat

  • Japan Times columnist Wayne Graczyk is probably the dean of active Yakyu writers.
  • Robert Whiting is kind of the dean emeritus to Wayne’s dean. I don’t think he’s regularly publishing articles, but he does turn up from time to time.
  • The Japan Times has doubles its quality coverage with Jason Coskrey, who has also written for ESPN.
  • John Gibson writes for the Daily Yomiuri and One World Sports. I don’t think his Yomiuri work is online, but his One World Sports work is.
  • Jim Allen has been writing about Pro Yakyu since the mid-90’s. He’s currently with Kyodo, and I suspect his work is buried behind a paywall. But fear not! Because the next bullet point makes up for it.
  • Additionally, John and Jim host an excellent weekly podcast, which can be downloaded from iTunes or John’s page on They were even kind enough to have me on a couple months ago.

The Blogosphere

  • Any summary of the Yakyu Blogosphere has to begin with Michael Westbay, the founder and operator of has been an invaluable resource to me, particularly early on in my pursuit of Pro Yakyu knowledge in the late-90’s/early-00’s. Without and it’s vibrant community, I never would have learned enough to start this site. Westbay-san also blogs, has written for Baseball Magazine, and did a video podcast throughout 2013.
  • Any summary of the Yakyu Blogosphere has to continue with Gen Sueyoshi and If you want a place to keep up with the daily and even hourly goings-on of Japanese baseball, is the single best resource available.
  • Deanna Rubin doesn’t seem to be actively updating her Marinerds site, but the archives are well worth a visit. You’ll tons of pics and information about college ball, ni-gun, indy leagues and minor league ball. Plus, Deanna got recognized by a reader last year when we went to the WBC final in San Francisco.
  • Japanese Baseball Cards is, helpfully, exactly what it sounds like.
  • I hadn’t looked at A Noboru Aota Fan’s Notes for years before writing this post, but it’s still going and still deeply historical.
  • Jan Benner’s blog covers baseball in Germany, Japan and the United States. Jan also contributed an article on German baseball to NPB Tracker a few years ago.
  • If you happen to speak Spanish, check out Claudio Rodriguez’s Beisbol Japanes.

Team-Specific Blogs

  • Love the Chiba Lotte Marines? So does Steve Novosel.
  • The Hanshin-devoted Tiger Tails blog is a wee bit on the pessimistic side.
  • The is probably closest thing any NPB team has to an English-language online beat. The TS team of writers publishes notes on pretty much every game.
  • Edwin Dizon’s Koukou Yakyu rivals even the most detailed Japanese language high school baseball sites.
  • I hope Dan Kurtz doesn’t mind me lumping in to this category.

Did I miss anyone? It wasn’t intentional. If I did, please drop me a line in the comments or via email.

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