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2013年3月22日 (金)

WBC閉幕 世界一決定戦として育てたい

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Mar. 22, 2013)
WBC should become tourney to decide world's No. 1 team
WBC閉幕 世界一決定戦として育てたい(3月21日付・読売社説)

The World Baseball Classic has just ended, with the Dominican Republic winning the title.

The victorious team--along with Puerto Rico, which was beaten in the championship game--impressed us with the strong physical abilities of Caribbean players.

Japan aimed to pull off a three-peat, but disappointingly left the tournament in the semifinals. The team failed to make a double steal during a great opportunity, but we cannot fault its aggressive attempt. We applaud the players' strenuous efforts to advance to the championship round.

The Samurai Japan team for the latest WBC comprised only players from the domestic leagues, as Japanese major leaguers declined to appear. However, the team was able to show Japan's strong aspects to some extent, stringing hits together with pitchers holding on for wins.

Japan's breathtaking seesaw game against Taiwan in the second round was filled with the best aspects of baseball. The Chunichi Dragons' Hirokazu Ibata miraculously proved himself as a clutch hitter, tying the score with a ninth-inning RBI single on a two-out pitch.


Strong ratings

The game attracted an average viewer rating of 30.3 percent in the Kanto region. The following match between Japan and the Netherlands reached a pinnacle of 34.4 percent.

The public's support must have been a great encouragement for the players.

Some of the younger members of Japan's latest squad will surely play central roles in the 2017 WBC--such as pitchers Kenta Maeda of the Hiroshima Carp and Masahiro Tanaka of the Tohoku Rakuten Eagles, and fielders Sho Nakata of the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters and Hayato Sakamoto of the Yomiuri Giants.

We hope these players will further improve their performances.

The gaps in ability among participating countries are much smaller than before, causing even leading nations to fail to perform as expected.

The United States, for example, failed to advance to the championship round, while South Korea, the runner-up in the previous WBC, was ousted in the first round. In contrast, European teams performed outstandingly, the Netherlands making it to the semifinals.

Most of the Netherlands' players came from Curacao, an autonomous state in the kingdom of the Netherlands that it occupied in the 17th century, but the team's performance has probably helped the Dutch become more interested in baseball.


Participation benefits Japan

Run by a company set up by Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association, the WBC is now a valuable international event to show the exciting aspects of baseball, as the sport has been dropped from the Olympics.

The Nippon Professional Baseball Players Association initially expressed its intention to sit out the WBC, mainly because it found fault with the way the tournament is organized.

However, it can be said it was good for Japan to participate in the event, considering how excited fans were to support the national team.

The Samurai Japan players will also certainly benefit from the experience of competing with their national flag on their uniforms.

It is necessary to further develop the WBC as a tournament to decide the world's top team and improve Japanese baseball to recapture the title.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 21, 2013)
(2013年3月21日01時28分  読売新聞)


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