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[JAPAN SPORTS NOTEBOOK] New managers take over for NPB fighters, dragons and hawks



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A quarter of the management body of Nippon Professional Baseball officially changed on Friday, October 29.

Newcomers are Tsuyoshi Shinjo (Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters), Kazuyoshi “Mr. Dragons” Tatsunami (Chunichi Dragons) and Hiroshi Fujimoto (Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks).

The three men were officially announced as new managers by their respective clubs on the last weekday of the month, and they replaced Hideki Kuriyama, Tsuyoshi Yoda and Kimikazu Kudo respectively.

Of the three canoe bosses at the start, Kuriyama had the longest tenure, serving as manager of Nippon Ham for 10 seasons.

Yoda led Chunichi for three seasons, while Kudo guided SoftBank to five Japan Series titles in seven seasons, including four consecutive from 2017-2020.

There is often a revolving door in managerial positions in professional sports. Here today, gone tomorrow.

This is why newly appointed managers will face immediate pressure to deliver solid results to their respective teams.

The Dragons ended their 2021 season 55-71-17, finishing fifth in the six-team Central League.

In the Pacific League, the Fighters were fifth at 55-68-20, and the Hawks (60-62-21) missed the playoffs, placing fourth.

“My mission is to strengthen the team by all means. I won’t compromise to play winning baseball, ”Tatsunami, 52, said in reports released during his introductory press conference as manager.

Playing his entire career with the Dragons (1988-2009), Tatsunami hit 2,480 hits (eighth on NPB’s all-time list), hit .285 and was inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame. in 2019. He was the 1988 CL Rookie of the Year.

Like Tatsunami, Fujimoto has high aspirations in his new job.

“I will give everything I have to get the best out of every player,” Fujimoto, 57, told reporters the same day, according to Kyodo News.

Prior to being chosen as the Hawks’ new manager, Fujimoto was part of SoftBank’s farming team (ni-gun) manager this season. He has been a coach in the organization since 2011.

Shinjo, 49, who started his NPB career with the Hanshin Tigers in 1991, retired in 2006 after helping the Fighters win the Japan Series. He joined the club in 2004 after three seasons in MLB, including two with the New York Mets and one year with the San Francisco Giants. Seven-time NPB All-Star, Shinjo was known for his defensive skills in the outfield. He has won 10 Golden Gloves in his career, including in each of his last eight NPB seasons (1996-2000, 2004-06).

Shinjo has never succeeded or trained at the pro level.

The Fighters have also named Atsunori Inaba, the manager of Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Samurai Japan, as their new general manager this week.

How efficiently Shinjo and Inaba work together could determine the course of the franchise for the next few seasons.

One for the history books

The Tokyo Yakult Swallows and Orix Buffaloes have gone from worst to first in their respective leagues, a dramatic reversal of fortune this year.

Never before have the two NPB pennant winners in a season completed the previous season.

A season ago, the Swallows finished in the Central League basement at 41-69-10, while the Buffaloes were the worst in the Pacific League at 45-68-7.

Swallows second-year manager Shingo Takatsu’s club landed the CL pennant on Tuesday, October 26.

Remarkably, the Tokyo club also experienced a worst-to-first bounce back in 2015, when they captured their last CL pennant.

Entering their regular season final on Monday, Nov. 1 against the Hiroshima Carp, the Swallows have 73 wins, 51 losses and 18 draws.

Yakult receives an automatic bye for the final phase of the CL Climax series. The Hanshin Tigers, second, and Yomiuri Giants, third, will meet in the first round, starting October 6. For the winner, a confrontation with the Swallows will follow.

RELATED: BASEBALL | Birds of Prey: Unsung Swallows Performing Giants, Tigers in the Central League

Like the Swallows, the Buffaloes have also made a big difference this year. Orix won the PL pennant with a 70-55-18 record.

The first leg of the PL Climax series will begin on October 6, with the Chiba Lotte Marines finishing in second place, welcoming the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. The Buffaloes will meet the winner.

Orix, who also finished last in 2019, had a much longer dry spell between the pennants. The Kansai-based team won their last league title in 1996. The Buffaloes won the pennant on Wednesday October 27th.

Buffaloes manager Satoshi Nakajima was determined to turn the club into a winner this season.

“The very first thing I said this year was, ‘Somehow we’re going to turn things around after the last two places in a row,” “Nakajima said, according to Kyodo News. “We’re where we are now because the players and others have taken it to heart.”


Grampus wins first Levain Cup title

Nagoya Grampus outclassed Cerezo Osaka in the second half of the Levain Cup final on Saturday, October 30 at Saitama Stadium.

More importantly, Grampus broke the scoreless deadlock shortly after the start of the second half.

Naoki Maeda went 1-0 in the 47th minute. Teammate Sho Inagaki added an insurance goal in the 79th, and the score held until the final whistle.

For Nagoya, it was the franchise’s first major achievement since winning the J. League title in 2010.

Inagaki, a 29-year-old midfielder, leads Grampus with eight goals in J. League games this season.


Louisville’s Konno prepares for the start of the junior season

Junior guard Norika Konno and the University of Louisville women’s basketball team open their 2021-22 season with an exhibition game against visiting Union University (Tennessee) on Thursday, November 4.

Louisville faces the University of Arizona in its first official game of the new campaign on November 12.

Konno, a Sendai native, appeared in all 30 Cardinals games last season, averaging 12.1 minutes, 3.4 points and 1.4 rebounds.


Yamaguchi wins women’s title at Danish Open

Akane Yamaguchi won the Danish Open women’s singles title after her opponent Se Young An of South Korea withdrew with injury on Sunday, October 24.

Second seed Yamaguchi had already won the event in 2016. This time the scoreboard was 18-21, 25-23, 16-5 when An retired.

“I’m happy with a victory in a tournament of any level. I’m especially happy with this one because it’s been a long time since I won, ”Yamaguchi told reporters in Odense, Denmark, of her first title since January 2020, when she won the Thailand Masters. .

Momota withdraws from Roland Garros semi-final due to leg injury

Title hopeful Kento Momota reached the men’s singles semi-final at the Yonex French Open on Saturday, October 30.

But the top-ranked Momota withdrew from the game due to leg pain. He lost to fellow Japanese Kanta Tsuneyama, who recorded a 24-26, 21-11, 1-0 victory in Paris.

Quotes of the week

“I cannot ask for a greater honor than this.”

Baseball legend Shigeo Nagashima after being chosen to receive the Order of Culture. The 85-year-old was one of nine people selected to receive the award this year, the government announced on October 26. The Order of Culture, also known as Bunka-kunshō (文化 勲 章), honors people who have made a profound contribution. to Japanese society.

“While enjoying the pleasure of finally bringing these things that I can do to Japan, I will prepare each aspect well one by one.”

Naoya Inoue, the IBF and WBA bantamweight champion, to prepare to face Thai challenger Aran Dipaen on December 14 at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

“I had decided that my last race would be at the Tokyo Olympics. I am incredibly happy and have no regrets. When it came to bringing [my career] in the end, I had a strong inner resolve.

Retired swimmer Kosuke Hagino, the gold medalist in the 400-meter individual medley at the Rio 2016 Olympics, told reporters on October 24.

Editor’s Note: Do you want to submit a piece of news for possible inclusion in the Japan Sports Notebook? Send an email with relevant information to [email protected], Where JAPAN Forward comments page Where Facebook page and search for future editions of Japan Sports Notebook on our website.

Author: Ed Odeven

Follow Ed on JAPAN Forward’s [Japan Sports Notebook] here Sunday, in [Odds and Evens] here during the week, and Twitter ed_odeven.

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