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2013年9月23日 (月)

コミッショナー 辞任機にNPBの組織改革を

The Yomiuri Shimbun September 22, 2013
Kato’s resignation must lead to NPB’s organizational reform
コミッショナー 辞任機にNPBの組織改革を(9月21日付・読売社説)

The resignation of Nippon Professional Baseball Commissioner Ryozo Kato can be considered inevitable given his responsibility for causing turmoil and losing the trust of baseball fans over the unified ball introduced at his initiative.

Kato’s announcement he would resign in the middle of his term came Thursday. As one reason for his departure, Kato said, “I caused trouble to fans and those concerned” for delaying the announcement that the unified ball’s coefficient of restitution—a fractional value representing the relative speed of an object after a collision divided by its relative speed before an impact—had been increased this season compared to the ball used in the previous season. He said he would leave his post in the latter half of October, before the Japan Series starts.

The pennant race is heading into its final stage. It is regrettable that Kato’s resignation is attracting public attention at a time when professional baseball is entering the season’s most exciting period.

After serving in such diplomatic posts as ambassador to the United States, Kato became NPB commissioner in July 2008. He was expected to utilize the international perspective he cultivated as a Foreign Ministry bureaucrat to develop pro baseball.

Kato strongly pushed for introduction of a unified ball for NPB. The World Baseball Classic and other international baseball championships use balls different from those in Japan.

The introduction of the unified ball, which has specifications close to those used overseas, was intended to enable Japan’s national team players to fully display their abilities in overseas games. The intention behind the move can be considered good.

However, the number of home runs dropped sharply in the 2011 season when the unified ball was introduced. Home runs are a major attraction of baseball, and some fans may have been deprived of their enjoyment.

As a countermeasure, NPB adopted a unified ball with an increased coefficient of restitution this season. But NPB did not disclose the change and asked the manufacturer to keep it secret.

Faulty governance

Why did the change in the specifications of the ball have to be covered up? NPB’s intentions were highly questionable. The change in ball specifications is believed to have had a large impact on players’ batting and pitching techniques. It is no wonder that many players expressed distrust in NPB when the change came to light in June.

Kato said he was not informed of the change in the unified ball’s coefficient of restitution.

If that is the case, it means NPB has a major problem in its governance as an organization, with important information not reaching the top. This was underscored by the fact that NPB’s secretary general, who is supposed to support the commissioner, did not report the change to Kato.

A third-party committee established by NPB is scheduled to compile a report on the unified ball this month. Based on the report, NPB must carry out measures to prevent recurrence and promote organizational reform.

Attention is now focused on who will succeed Kato. We urge the 12 baseball clubs to work together to select the next commissioner, who will assume a heavy responsibility for regaining confidence in NPB and developing professional baseball.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 21, 2013)
(2013年9月21日02時20分  読売新聞)


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