Friday, 27 February 2009

Minor Leagues

Continuation of my "very quick" introduction to Japanese baseball. It's not looking quite so very quick after all.

In addition to the two major leagues there are two minor leagues and two independent leagues. The minor leagues are the Western and the Eastern Leagues, and feature the "farm teams" of the major league teams. The farm teams are kind of semi-professional teams, with players who aren't quite up to scratch yet, or injured professional players, and they are each linked with a major league team with whom they share their name. With me so far? So players from the Chunichi Dragons farm team can "graduate" into the professional team, for instance. Or they can take out a contract in American baseball, as sometimes happens.

The teams in Eastern and Western Leagues don't conform directly to the Central and Pacific Leagues. So the Chunichi Dragons and the Softbank Hawks wouldn't be playing each other in the big leagues, but they are in the small leagues. Unless the professional iterations of the teams win their respective leagues and play off for the Japan Series. Do you see?

Actually, screw it, just read this. It explains it all.

Now, the independent leagues. There's the Shikoku-Kyushu Island League - that happens on the Shikoku and Kyushu Islands, predictably - and the Kansai Independent League. These leagues aren't affiliated with any others. They are independent. The teams also are not owned by any corporations. They are independent. This much at least is pretty simple.

The six teams in the Shikoku-Kyushu Island League are:

Nagasaki Saints (Nagasaki)
Kochi Fighting Dogs (Kochi)
Tokushima Indigo Socks (Naruto)
Ehime Mandarin Pirates (Matsuyama)
Kagawa Olive Guyners (Takamatsu)
Fukuoka Red Warblers (Fukuoka)

Now the first thing you'll notice about this league is that the names are all freaking awesome. The Shikoku-Kyushu Island League was founded in 2005, so I guess they had to be more creative with the names to avoid repetitions. It sounds like a really cool league to follow, but I have no idea how to follow it in England. Good luck to the rest of you.

The Kansai Independent League's teams are:

Akashi Red Soldiers
Kishu Rangers
Osaka Gold Villicanes
Kobe 9 Cruise

Only four teams because the league was founded only last year, and this will be the first year they've run. Next year two more teams will be added. Kobe 9 Cruise, apart from it's killer name, is famous for having signed up the first woman in professional Japanese baseball - Yoshida Eri. She can pitch at 101 kilometres per hour, and is only 16 years old - she's currently still a student at Kawasaki-kita Senior High School and will be taking time out to pitch for the team.

Should be an awesome year. Now if only there were some way to watch these games on the internet...


evan d from sd who works @ H-D said...

good blarticle. Its been fun for me, learning about Japanese Baseball. I saw team Japan play twice in san diego vs korea and cuba. go nakajima, (he's my new favorite short stop) For the record, if blarticle catches on i coined it here for the first time.

peace, love and baseball