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How Do You Feel About USA Baseball?

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How Do You Feel About USA Baseball?
Hello, I'm new here. How do people in Japan feel about the USA game? Do you feel that the USA is better or do you feel that Japan is better? Is it a Japan's player's dream to play in North America, or are players content on staying where they are? Who are the most popular USA players in Japan? Do you know Babe Ruth? What about Lou Gehrig? Are the Yankees the most popular team in Japan, or are the Mariners more popular?

Re: How Do You Feel About USA Baseball?
[ Author: Christopher | Posted: Mar 1, 2008 11:31 AM | HAN Fan ]

Good question. Personally I don't watch it unless there is nothing else on the TV, preferring the Japanese version. My personal opinion is that Japanese baseball is better than American baseball. The focus on the basics that Japanese coaches insist on makes for more accomplished players and, for the most part, Japanese players are faster than players in MLB. This I should stress is what I personally feel - Japanese baseball suits what I want to see from the game more than American baseball. However, both styles are significantly different and players from either league often encounter differences in transferring.

As for Japanese players going to the US, it depends. Some want to go, some aren't interested. Fujikawa (Tigers ace closer) has said he would like to be posted, but Yu Darvish (Nippon Ham's ace starter) is on record as saying he isn't interested.

A point to realize about MLB coverage in Japan is that it revolves around Japanese players. For the past two weeks NHK has been running camp reports from the MLB training camps very much focused on the Japanese players, almost to the exclusion of the rest of the team. As for popular US players, some years ago Bonds was popular, but now no one is interested. A-Rod is known, but really no one is very interested. The Clemens drug scandal has raised very little attention here. Japanese fans don't tend to be interested in American players, and if they do express an interest in a player on an American team it is mostly Ichiro or Matsui (Hideki not Kazuo).

The most popular teams in Japan are Hanshin Tigers and Yomiuri Giants, with the Chunichi Dragons and SoftBank Hawks also well supported. American teams don't figure that much. The Yankees have a nice sideline as a brand (you will see lots of Yankees caps particularly worn by younger hip-hop devotees), but not as a team to support. I would say that the Yankees get more attention than the Mariners, but this has changed of late because of Ichiro's achievements.

As to how Japanese see the American game, I would say a lot consider it superior to the Japanese version, though this has changed significantly. With Japanese players succeeding in the US and American players failing in Japan, they have come to be seen as more equal. Furthermore, Japan winning the World Baseball Classic also gave a considerable boost to those who were not so convinced that MLB was automatically superior. What Japanese fans like to see is Japanese players succeed on an international stage. However, this does not necessarily move beyond the interest in the Japanese player to an interest in the other league.
Re: How Do You Feel About USA Baseball?
[ Author: Guest: Gary Garland | Posted: Mar 1, 2008 4:35 PM ]

First I added a link to your site on Japan Baseball Daily. I hope you will keep your blog up. A lot of people are going to find it useful.

You have a pretty big learning curve. I would recommend you start by reading as much of this site's old posts as you can, Jim Allen's material, and my and Jim Albright's material at Baseball would also help. If you can find copies, read anything Robert Whiting has done on Japanese baseball as well as Rob Fitts' books. Deanna Rubin's blog is also excellent.

What would really help is you learning Japanese and reading the Japanese press day in and day out in addition to books and magazines. But failing that, I have this warning for you: almost all of the stuff said about Japanese baseball in the mainstream media is nonsense. They were making some progress for a while, but seem to be backsliding in the accuracy department recently. So if you want to run anything about it, ask me or Michael or Deanna or Christopher to look at it first.

I can sympathize with the MSM in terms of them not knowing much about Japanese baseball with all the stuff they have to do on their MLB beats. I wouldn't want to try to do anything on the KBO because I'm just not that knowledgeable, for example. However, a lot of the just absolute garbage they print on NPB and its players is a result of sheer laziness. That I cannot abide. These are guys with access that I don't have and yet they still can't get basic first grade level facts correct by making one or two phone calls or just sidling up to one of the Japanese writers and asking him/her.

This is the era of no fact checking, even at the freaking New York Times. Keep that in mind when you read an MSM piece about Japanese baseball.
Re: How Do You Feel About USA Baseball?
[ Author: Guest: puddin head | Posted: Mar 9, 2008 3:38 PM ]

Gary, I enjoy reading your rants about ESPN. I've only been reading the websites that concern themselves with Japanese baseball for five years (a relative newcomer), and I've come to see that the American media (guys like Mike and the Mad Dog who want you to think they are sooooo smart) simply do not do their homework or even try to get a clue about Japanese baseball.

What I appreciate about the Japanese players, they are clean - no drugs or steroids - wish I could say the same about idiots like Riggs, Bigbie, and Cabrera.

This is a site about Pro Yakyu (Japanese Baseball), not about who the next player to go over to MLB is. It's a community of Pro Yakyu fans who have come together to share their knowledge and opinions with the world. It's a place to follow teams and individuals playing baseball in Japan (and Asia), and to learn about Japanese (and Asian) culture through baseball.

It is my sincere hope that once you learn a bit about what we're about here that you will join the community of contributors.

Michael Westbay
(aka westbaystars)

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