I read on Hardball Talk this morning that Japan’s baseball league, the NPB, is trying to decide when to start their season, which was originally scheduled for March 25th. Per the Yakyu Baka blog, it sounds as if the Central League wants to start on time, while the Pacific League wants to postpone the games, and they haven’t yet been able to reach an agreement. Exhibition games have already been canceled; The Rakuten Golden Eagles’ stadium in Sendai, near the epicenter of the earthquake, is obviously not ready for games, and neither is the Chiba Lotte Marines’, which sustained liquification under its parking lot and plumbing damage. The Eagles’ future is uncertain in many ways, and night games could be tricky all over the country, since the government has asked everyone to conserve electricity whenever possible.
Obviously, this is hardly Japan’s biggest concern right now. I’ve felt a little weird writing about silly baseball stuff all week with everything that’s happening there; but that’s my job, and it’s not like anything I write can help anyway. Anyway, this news seems like an opportunity to acknowledge, again, that while we will certainly continue to write about Kyle Farnsworth, we at the Banter are still very much thinking about Japan.
The only thing from my own baseball life that I can think to compare the NPB’s situation to is September 11th, and the tragedy in Japan is on a larger scale than even that, particularly considering the ongoing nuclear emergency (which is terrifying to read about). I don’t think there is necessarily a right or wrong answer as to when to start the season. There is nothing wrong with waiting, out of either respect or just practical necessity, to say nothing of safety concerns. That said, I know I felt just a little bit better on September 17th in 2001 when baseball came back, and a little bit better yet on the 21st when it came back to New York (and yes, that Mike Piazza home run made me cry). Maybe, in Japan, this is one of those times when all the emotion people invest in the game can pay off in some larger way… then again, maybe not. Players and front office personnel in Japan are torn, and they would know better than I do.