The spring invitational national high school baseball tournament at Koshien has started.
A couple of good Koshien articles via EWC.
A Boston Herald writer made it out of the dour Tokyo Dome to Koshien to catch a day of always (overly) dramatic highschool baseball action. It’s interesting to get an outsider’s view of the event.
If the baseball gods really wanted the Red Sox to play in Japan, they would have steered them to the 84-year-old Hanshin Koshien Stadium.
Not that a stadium is needed to enhance enjoyment of a baseball game, but as any Fenway Park [map] visitor understands, a special ballpark always does.
Koshien Stadium is that kind of a special ballpark.
Yesterday, as the 80th annual spring Koshien national high school baseball tournament kicked off, the thought that this was where talents such as Sadaharu Oh, Hideki Matsui, Ichiro Suzuki and, of course, Daisuke Matsuzaka were tested as both high schoolers and pros (the Hanshin Tigers play here) was invigorating.
And a solid piece by Thomas Dillon of the Japan Times.
From samurai to kamikaze to the blaze of cherry blossoms, Japanese feel such honor in their bones and Koshien shows this.
Everyone loses, but not everyone gets to lose so majestically on national TV. Remember the final charge in “The Last Samurai?” Hear Ken Watanabe’s dying gasp — “It’s beautiful.”
I personally don’t follow the Koshien tournaments much. Some highschool phenoms draw my attention, of course, but usually not when they’re playing agianst inferior opposition (the random bracketing can create havoc, with top teams facing each other in early rounds, or a weak side sneaking their way up the competition, etc.), high school baseball is much like NCAA basketball and football in that there are some powerhouse schools that recruit student-athletes from across the country and make it to Koshien year after year. Maybe I’m too cynical, but I enjoy it in parts.
Oh, I went to see the Sox-Hanshin preseason game, but haven’t had time to sort through the photos and videos yet. The Hanshin fans got into the game quite a bit by the end, even though the Sox regulars were almost all replaced by bench players, because it was a 1 run game and Kubota and Fujikawa pitched admirably, but the Sox closed the door on the Tigers with Delcarmen and Papelbon. I guess Okajima was scheduled to pitch against the Yomiuri Giants, his former team, so he didn’t make an appearance against the Tigers even though the situation would have usually called for him. Ah preseason.