Good news everyone! It appears that, in the darkness of November, we will be seeing some MLB baseball after all. MLB is sending a team of players over to Japan to play some games against the Japanese National Team, “Samurai Japan” (in essence a NPB all-star team), and, guess what? We’ll be able to see it on television here in the states! Now, they haven’t released any sort of news release yet, but I did some of my own research, in that I looked at MLB Network’s website and looked at their schedule.
MLB’s team is going to be good, at least at the plate, with players like Robinson Cano, Adam Jones, Bryce Harper, Yasiel Puig, Jose Altuve and Justin Morneau having confirmed they are going (Albert Pujols was going to go too, but pulled out). Hisashi Iwakuma is the most notable pitcher going that we know of so far, and it should be fun seeing him pitch in front of (and against) his fellow countrymen.
As far as the Japanese team, it’s going to be very interesting to see how they do, as this will provide a WBC-esque look at Japanese players against MLB competition. Names to keep a close eye on include Kenta Maeda (a pitcher who might be be headed to MLB next year), Shohei Otani (who can both pitch AND play as a position player, and who considered heading to the USA out of high school but later changed his mind and stayed in Japan), Pacific League batting champ Yoshio Itoi, and 2014 Japanese hit champ Tetsuo Yamada.
Here’s the schedule in East Coast time, all games below will be on MLB Network and many of them will be shown again on tape delay at a more reasonable hour for Americans:
November 11, 4 AM: MLB vs. combined team of Hanshin Tigers and Yomiuri Giants (at Koshien Stadium in Nishinomiya, not far from Osaka)
November 12, 4 AM: MLB vs. Samurai Japan (at the Kyocera Dome in Osaka)
November 14, 4 AM: MLB vs. Samurai Japan (at the Tokyo Dome)
November 15, 4 AM: MLB vs. Samurai Japan (at the Tokyo Dome)
November 16, 4 AM: MLB vs. Samurai Japan (at the Tokyo Dome)
November 18, 5 AM: MLB vs. Samurai Japan (at the Sapporo Dome)
November 20, 4 AM: MLB vs. Samurai Japan (in Okinawa)
I’m particularly looking forward to the game at Koshien, as it’s the most historic of all Japanese ballparks and I think it’ll be neat to see MLB players play on the all-dirt infield there.
So, rest well knowing that we aren’t too far away from some more baseball.