Slices of Japanese business, politics and life
Defending champ Japan and Korea’s third pairing this WBC followed convincing wins by each side over Cuba and Mexico, respectively, serving as a fitting rubber game after the sides split their first two games.
Three early — and not fully deserved — runs in the first inning off pitcher Yu Darvish put the Samurai in the hole. That sent many Japanese to local lunchtime offerings, as the televised game played midday at offices around the country, likely to score huge ratings.
Those leaving missed the tall half-Japanese, half-Iranian, right-hander racking up strikeouts, while the offense squandered multiple scoring opportunities.
An Ichiro ground out scratched back a run, but he killed another rally in the 7th with a man on by popping up, shrinking his measly batting average to .174 and raising doubts about his leading-off.
Half-Japanese, half-Iranian, but possibly Major League Baseball’s most coveted Asian prospect, Yu Darvish is pitching the opener of the World Baseball Classic tournament in Tokyo, the main question for many is how long he will continue to be only a local player.
The template for exports was set by Japan teammate Daisuke Matsuzaka, who followed his MVP effort in the 2006 WBC with an eye-popping $103 million contract with the Boston Red Sox, some $50 million of which went to his Seibu LIons, just for letting the right-hander leave Japan.