This is nothing against soccer's World Cup. It's been a pip, but it's not baseball. Tomorrow will be the fifth day this month without so much as a hanging curve or a bloop single. It sounded silly last year when owners adopted this policy of appeasement, but now that baseball fans are feeling the sting, it seems downright sinister.
Why are baseball owners saying, "There will be PKs in OUR time"--thus taking a page out of Neville Chamberlain's play book? What fans do they hope to gain? What's next, appointing FIFA to organize ticket sales? One look at a Nippon Ham Fighters' weeknight crowd might suggest this is already occurring. Are those blocks of uniformed students actually paying to get in as part of school excursions, or are they there for show in the same way South Korean Cup organizers have taken to packing empty seats with school kids?
Could it be that extraterrestrial beings abducted baseball's 12 owners a year ago and replaced them with duplicates, automatons bent on subverting the business of baseball as we know it?
If so, first contact may well have been last year in Yokohama, where the bizarre behavior of the Yokohama BayStars front office may have been the tip off that something was terribly wrong.
Yokohama signed a player, who had never in his career hit more than a few homers in one season, to be their big power hitter. They followed this debacle by signing Anthony Sanders, who was reported in the local media as having been the No. 4 hitter of the Olympic gold medal-winning American team.
But calling Sanders, who had been one of the weakest hitters on the U.S. team at Sydney, the American cleanup hitter required an economy of truth that would make everyone but the FBI stand up and take notice. Sanders had batted fourth a few times, only by virtue of having come off the bench as a pinch runner or defensive substitute.
The blunders were so far off the scale that we should consider whether or not they were intentional and part of a larger plot to torpedo the industry.
Perhaps that explains why the BayStars have now signed Ernie Young, who actually was the cleanup hitter for the U.S. in Sydney. One has to wonder if the BayStars have signed Young as a cover story--to prevent the discovery of a heinous alien conspiracy.
Given the extreme lack of sophistication demonstrated by the BayStars and this bizarre generosity towards soccer's World Cup, it shouldn't be too much trouble to develop a simple test to determine whether a baseball executive is human or not.
Just ask the alleged baseball man to explain what a strike is. Anyone who answers "a goal against the opposing team," should be taken into custody indefinitely. This will put the finger on beings masquerading as baseball officials. It will have the added benefit of ridding the game of several alleged umpires as well.
Baseball has a massive base of support in this country so if we act now, it will not be too late to save it.
Japan currently has the manpower available to deal with the potential threat of body snatchers. After all, there are thousands of underemployed police officers in Japan itching for a sign of alien trouble makers. All we need to do is point them in the right direction.
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Still, not every absurdity is the result of a conspiracy. Last Saturday, Kojiro Machida of the Hiroshima Carp led off a game with a home run and in so doing, tied the Central League record for pinch hit home runs with 17.
How, you ask, can a batter be the first hitter in the game and also a pinch hitter? The answer is that pitcher Yasushi Tsuruta was the starting first baseman for the Carp, but Carp manager Koji Yamamoto only had Tsuruta in the lineup until he could see who the Hanshin Tigers' starting pitcher was.
The Tigers sent lefty Trey Moore to the mound, so to get the platoon edge, Yamamoto sent Machida, a right-handed swinger up to bat for Tsuruta in the top of the first inning.
This practice is called "teisatsu" or using a stalking horse. Teams do this because the CL owners insist on maintaining the anal retentive policy of not revealing who will pitch the next day's games.
They may think that if everyone knew who the starting pitchers were, there would be no suspense left in the game. If that's the rational for maintaining this silliness, then body snatchers would constitute an improvement.
The Hot Corner appears each Thursday in The
Daily Yomiuri .