Opening day of Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan

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Baseball is expected to return to Japan. As Kaz Nagatsuka of the Japan Times reports, Nippon Professional Baseball commissioner Atsushi Saito announced Monday that the league plans to start its regular season on June 19 – almost three months after the original March 20 start date. As was the case in Taiwan and South Korea, where their best leagues are already underway, matches will begin without the presence of fans. The NPB teams will aim to play 120 games in their condensed season, which is a reduction from the standard of 143 games.

NPB has yet to officially release its health and safety calendar or guidelines, although Saito has made it clear that the Japan Series – the NPB championship series – will still be held. Other changes to the playoff format in the Japanese 12-team league are still possible, although Commissioner Saito said the issue is still under discussion. Elimination of extra-round play in 2020 is also under discussion, according to Saito. (Ties are already possible in NPB in matches that remain blocked for 12 innings.)

The NPB ended the league play between the Pacific League and the Central League in 2020, by Nagatsuka, and the schedule is expected to have further changes to reduce the risk of potential COVID-19 infections among players, the staff and other staff. And while NPB will officially start a new training camp from June 2-14, Nagatsuka adds that the teams are already starting intrasquad games in their home parks with the goal of replenishing themselves. The SoftBank Hawks and Orix Buffaloes are among the teams that have already started to do so.

After announcing on March 9 that the season opening would be delayed, the NPB identified April 24 as a potential start date. However, at the end of March, league officials were already questioning the feasibility of this plan. On April 8, the NPB announced that the opening day was further delayed – this time indefinitely. No dates or plans were made public before the league was announced today.

On the one hand, it is encouraging for MLB fans to see another high-level professional league preparing to resume play, as it gives hope that Major League Baseball will not be far behind. On the other hand, the fact that set dates for a new training camp and first season have been offered to fans as NPB continues to discuss some of the finer details is a reminder that other leagues are not not face the kind of tension between property and work that exists in MLB. It has been clear for weeks now that the MLB’s hope is to revive the training games in mid-June with a view to early July, but the owners of the MLB and the MLB Players Association have not not yet accept the terms of the health / safety or player compensation protocols. in a truncated 2020 campaign.

MLBPA responded to MLB’s original health and safety proposal late last week. MLB has yet to make an economic proposal to the union after MLBPA executive director Tony Clark completely rejected the idea of ​​a 50-50 share of revenue before the MLB could even officially present the ‘offer. A new economic plan would be proposed to the union tomorrow.

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