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Friday, November 9, 2007

Baseball in the news 野球のニュース

The Daily Yomiuri has several articles today on the Konami Cup アジアシリーズ, which started today at the Tōkyō Dome 東京ドーム. This is the third year for the round-robin tournament that pits the champions of the professional baseball leagues in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, plus an all-star team from China's league, the China Baseball League (CBL) 中国野球リーグ . Playing this time are the Chūnichi Dragons 中日ドラゴンズ from the Central League セリーグ, the SK Wyverns SKワイバーンズ of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) 韓国野球委員会, and representing Taiwan's Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) 中華職業棒球連盟, the Uni-President Lions 統一ライオンズ. The Yomiuri's piece on the Lions concerns the the fact that the team has a Japanese conditioning coach http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/sports/20071108TDY17002.htm.

Japanese teams won the first two editions of the Konami Cup in 2005 (Chiba Lotte Marines 千葉ロッテマリーンズ) and 2006 (Hokkaidō Nippon Ham Fighters 北海道日本ハムファイターズ), though last year the La New Bears (La Newベアーズ) from Taiwan came close, losing to Nippon Ham in the final by a score of 1-0. I'll be pulling for Chūnichi to make it three in a row, though today they were upset by the Wyverns 6-3. The Dragons were the first Japanese baseball team I supported, initially because their uniforms closely resembled those of the Los Angeles Dodgers (one of my favorite MLB clubs) at the time when I first arrived in Japan in early 1989. Living for 18 months in Yokkaichi 四日市, which is only 50 minutes by express train 急行 from Chūnichi's home city of Nagoya 名古屋 also helped to reinforce the connection. And I've always admired the team's current manager and former star player, Hiromitsu Ochiai 落合博満, for both his incredible talent, and his iconoclastic attitude オレ流.

Here in Taiwan, the 37th annual Baseball World Cup has started in T'aipei (Taibei) 台北 and T'aichung (Taijhong) 台中. It may sound impressive, but international baseball is only a small blip on the world sporting scene. However, in attention-starved Taiwan, this is something of a big deal, with the city of Taichung going so far as to build a new ballpark, the Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium 臺中市洲際棒球場, to play host to events such as these. Minor league it may be, but we'll be going to one of the games (Japan vs. the USA) this Saturday, weather-permitting, at the new facility.

Later this month and next Taichung will also be the venue for the Asia Cup Championships, a more important event that will serve as the qualifying tournament for next year's Olympic baseball program in Beijing.

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