Friday, August 14, 2009

No need for live sports this week

No updates for a few days as I'm not going to any live sports. There are several reasons for this.


The dog days of August are here in Tokyo, which means hot, humid days followed by hot, humid nights. And a few earthquakes. But it also means that the National High School Baseball Tournament, known as Koshien, is in full swing, with 3 or 4 games every day, lasting from 8:30 am until 6 pm or later. With the weather so oppressive, it's not that hard to spend the day inside watching the games and running the AC. Two days were completely rained out, which has pushed things back so the final takes place on Monday the 24th. So far, there's been some exciting games, some well-pitched affairs, and a few blowouts. There's still too many sacrifice bunts and too much sliding into first, but it's fun to watch the kids in what, for many of them, is the highlight of their life.


Another reason to stay home is that I finally relented and bought MLB.TV for the last part of the season. MLB.TV started in 2003 and until two months ago, was completely blacked out in Japan. I had subscribed for one season and tried to use proxy servers to bypass the IP address, but this really wasn't worth it. Nowadays though, the quality of the broadcast and the ability to watch multiple games simultaneously makes the $35 price for two months well worth it. Already I've seen the Jays lose in New York (just like real life!) and Ken Griffey Jr. win one for the Mariners with a sayonara single in the 14th inning of a 0-0 game. Today, Jonny Gomes belted 3 dingers for Cincinnati. With the games on in the morning, having this package will keep me in the house for the next while. And since the games are on the computer, I can watch the Koshien on the TV at the same time!

No Pennant Races in Japan

Unfortunately, both the Central and Pacific Leagues have instituted Climax Series to determine their Japan Series representatives. This means that out of the 6 teams in each league, 3 teams make the playoffs. The 2nd-place team hosts the 3rd-place team in a best of 3 series, with the winner facing the 1st-place team in a best-of-6 final. How can it be best-of-6? The league champion is given a 1-0 lead when the series starts, and as they host all 6 games, it's tough for the runners-up to win.

Anyway, in the Central League, there's a 10-game gap between 3rd place Yakult and 4th place Hiroshima. Sure, there's a race for the league championship with the Giants leading the Dragons by just 2 games, but it's still not compelling as both teams are going to make the playoffs. Over in the Pacific League, things are a bit closer as Rakuten trails Seibu by 4.5 games, but I've already been to the Seibu Dome this year and it's a bit too far for a return trip. It will be interesting to see if Rakuten, an expansion team in 2005, can make their first playoff appearance, so I might try to catch an end-of-season game when they visit the Lotte Marines, who play relatively close by in Chiba. Until then, there's just a couple of minor league games in the parks I haven't seen yet.


I'm visiting Hawaii in mid-September for a week. Unfortunately the Hawaii Winter Baseball League ceased operations after last season, so there's not much to see while I'm there. The University of Hawaii has a women's volleyball tournament during my stay, so I might try to catch one of those games. Otherwise it'll be beach time as I need to relax after all this baseball watching.



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