I believe the last time I wrote something about Japanese baseball during August Hanshin Tigers (阪神タイガース) were firmly in first place of the Central League with a double digit lead. Now, it turns out the wasted it completely and only hang on to their division clinching top of the table by a mere 1.0 game in front of their archrivals, the Yomiuri Giants (読売ジャイアンツ). I don’t really know what happened as I didn’t have the chance to watch the games or follow the action in the numerous blogs covering the team’s actions in English but it seems that they were at their peak to early. I really hope they make it and win the division because I believe that this might increase their chances on winning the second stage of the climax series. The Giants, who were in fourth place two months back, meanwhile made a great run and have distanced themselves from third place Chuunichi Dragons (中日ドラゴンズ) who are tied withe the Hiroshima Carp (広島東洋カープ) for third place which qualifies for the first stage of the climax series.
So things look interesting in Japan as the race for the third playoff spot in the Pacific League is also a great contest between Nippon Ham Fighters (北海道日本ハムファイターズ) and Chiba Lotte Marines (千葉ロッテマリーンズ).
On other news Japan’s baseball legend Sadaharu Oh annoucned his retirement as the coach of the Softbank Hawks (福岡ソフトバンクホークス, hat tip to NPB Tracker). Oh is the answer people give to Americans when they start to brag about Barry Bonds‘ homerun record and is considered to be one (if not the best) hitter in Japanese baseball ever. I don’t know if that’s reaklly true but the way people write about him it must have been fascinating to watch him play.
And to round things off there has been a lot of talk about a young Japanese pitcher named Junichi Tazawa being scouted by MLB teams. He plays in the amateur leagues and would have been eligible for the upcoming draft but has asked NPB teams to refrain from drafting him as he wants to try his luck in the States. This is rather uncommon and for a more in-depth look into the matter please read the article at NPB Tracker posted above.