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2009年3月25日 (水)

WBC連覇 日本を元気づける世界一だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Mar. 25, 2009)

WBC title defense has energized Japan

WBC連覇 日本を元気づける世界一だ(325日付・読売社説)

Team Japan once again climbed to the top of the world at the second World Baseball Classic on Monday in Los Angeles. It certainly was an amazing achievement by the players, collectively dubbed "Samurai Japan."


Japan beat South Korea 5-3 in the WBC final in an extended, 10-inning game, to retain the title.


Expectations that the team would hold on to the title were high, and the players representing their country handsomely lived up to those expectations. We would like to applaud them for coping with the pressure and proving their abilities.


Team Japan manager Tatsunori Hara said after the final that he was happy to share the joy of victory with everybody. Many people must have been literally energized by the success of Team Japan.


Since the tournament's Tokyo round started on March 5, the Japanese people had shown great interest in the event. TV viewership has been high. People crowded in front of TV sets at home appliance sections of shopping arcades and major electronics stores. Many people watched games on their cell phone TVs on trains and other places.



Event has taken root

As a major event to decide the world's No. 1 baseball country, the WBC seems to have taken root firmly among Japanese baseball fans.


By advancing to the final of the WBC, Japan and South Korea proved that the level of Asian baseball is very high. The tense, thrilling pace of the games made us feel anew the sport's real enjoyment.


Japan beat the United States in a semifinal. Manager Hara commented that he does not think the win means Japan's baseball has surpassed that of the United States.


He is right if we think about the U.S. lineup, which can hardly be regarded as the best, among other things.


But Japanese baseball has been steadily evolving, as shown in its consistent pitching strength and its batting lineup that can connect strings of hits, for instance.


While watching Team Japan's games, many other baseball players must have thought they would like to play in the WBC someday.


Such players will work hard in the hope they will be someday selected for Team Japan. This may result in the further improvement of the level of baseball among professionals and corporate players, as well as university and high school players.


The WBC this time also impressed upon us the improvement of skills among European players. The Netherlands, for instance, advanced to the second round after beating the Dominican Republic, one of the pre-tourney favorites.



Game's appeal still too narrow

Europeans would probably take more interest in the event if their own countries' teams became stronger. To bring baseball back as an Olympic event, the further internationalization of baseball is indispensable.


Meanwhile, Japan and South Korea met five times in this year's WBC. The main reason for this was that both teams, which survived the Tokyo round, were put in the same group again in the second round under the latest system.


The major issue in the next tournament will be how to prevent the same teams from meeting several times.


Japan's professional baseball season will start on April 3. We hope the players will do their best to make fans watching games feel joyful, with performances comparable to those we saw in the WBC.


(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 25, 2009)

20093250150  読売新聞)


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