NPB Players Hope To Use Series With MLB All Stars To Grow Game In Japan
For the first time since '06, a team of Major League Baseball all stars will visit Japan in November for a series of games against the Japan national team in what "some see as a reincarnation of what had become a biennial 'Nichibeiyakyu' (Japan-America Baseball) series," according to KYODO. But for Nippon Professional Baseball and its union, "it is something altogether different." Japan Professional Baseball Players Association Secretary General Toru Matsubara said, "I don't like calling it 'Nichibeiyakyu.' They are more like Samurai Japan-Major League games." National team senior staff member Kenjiro Kato said, "We don't see these games as exhibitions. We are treating them as meaningful competition. And the players association is, too." In '06, the players association "dropped the bomb that it would no longer participate in postseason major-league tours." MLB Japan President Jim Small was "surprised by the decision but never stopped trying to find a way to bring big leaguers back." He said the "idea of games against Samurai Japan" surfaced in talks with former NPB Commissioner Ryozo Kato. Matsubara said the games "are meaningful in the big picture." Matsubara: “Samurai Japan is about winning the WBC and this is part of that buildup and the players are behind it. It’s about growing the game in Japan on all levels. NPB’s 12 teams are not so profitable that they can ignore the monetary benefits of success in the WBC. It may be kind of a Japanese thing that players feel pride in their teams’ financial success" (KYODO, 7/16).