[JAPAN SPORTS NOTEBOOK] New managers take over for NPBs Fighter, Dragons and Hawks



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A quarter of Nippon Professional Baseball’s managerial corps was officially changed on Friday, October 29th.

The 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, replacing Hideki Kuriyama, Tsuyoshi Yoda and Kimikazu Kudo, respectively.

Of the three outgoing coaches, Kuriyama had the longest tenure, serving as Nippon Ham manager for 10 seasons.

Yoda led Chunichi for three seasons, while Kudo led SoftBank to five Japan Series titles in seven seasons, including four in a row from 2017-20.

There is often a revolving door in management positions in professional sport. Get out of here tomorrow.

Because of this, the newly appointed managers will come under immediate pressure to deliver solid results for their respective teams.

The Dragons finished their 2021 season with a 55-71-17 record, finishing fifth in the Central League with six teams.

In the Pacific League, the Fighters finished fifth with a 55-68-20 record, and the Hawks (60-62-21) missed the playoffs and finished fourth.

“My mission is to strengthen the team by all means. I will not compromise to win baseball, “Tatsunami, 52, was quoted as being manager in published reports from his opening press conference.

Tatsunami played his entire career with the Dragons (1988-2009), rapping 2,480 hits (eighth mostly on the NPB all-time list), beating .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 expectations of his new job.

“I will do everything I can to get the best out of every player,” 57-year-old Fujimoto told reporters on the same day Kyodo news.

Before Fujimoto was elected as the new manager of the Hawks, Fujimoto served as SoftBank’s farm team (ni-gun) Coach this season. He has been a coach in the organization since 2011.

Shinjo, 49, who began 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 the MLB, two of them with the New York Mets, who had spent a year with the San Francisco Giants. As a 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 coached or coached at a professional level.

The Fighters also named Atsunori Inaba, the manager of Samurai Japan, who won the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics, as their new general manager this week.

How effectively 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 rose from worst to first place in their respective leagues, a dramatic turnaround this year.

Never before had both NPB flag winners finished the last season of the preseason in one season.

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

The club of Swallows coach Shingo Takatsu in their sophomore year won the CL pennant on Tuesday, October 26th.

Notably, the Tokyo club also had a worst-to-early recovery in 2015 when they captured their final CL pennant.

The Swallows will enter their regular season finals against the Hiroshima Carp on Monday November 1st and have 73 wins, 51 losses and 18 draws.

Yakult receives an automatic bye to the CL Climax Series Final Stage. The second-placed Hanshin Tigers and the third-placed Yomiuri Giants will meet in the opening round from October 6th. A showdown with the Swallows follows for the winner.

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Like the swallows, the Buffaloes have brought a dramatic turnaround this year. Orix won the PL pennant with a 70-55-18 record.

The first leg of the PL Climax Series begins on October 6th, with the Chiba Lotte Marines, who finished second, hosting the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. The buffalo meet the winner.

Orix, which also took last place in 2019, had a significantly longer dry spell between the pennants. The Kansai-based team last won the championship title in 1996. The Buffaloes won the pennant on Wednesday October 27th.

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

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


Grampus wins the first Levain Cup title

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

More importantly, Grampus broke the goalless stalemate shortly after the second half began.

Naoki Maeda scored 1-0 in the 47th minute. Teammate Sho Inagaki added an insurance goal in the 79th goal and the result lasted until the final whistle.

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

Inagaki, a 29-year-old midfielder, has led Grampus by eight goals in J. League games this season.


Louisville’s Konno is preparing for the start of the junior season

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

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

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


Yamaguchi wins the women’s title at the Denmark Open

Akane Yamaguchi won the women’s singles title at the Denmark Open after her opponent Se Young An from South Korea was injured on Sunday 24 October.

The second seeded Yamaguchi had previously won the 2016 tournament. This time the scoreboard showed 18-21, 25-23, 16-5 when An stepped down.

“I’m happy to win a tournament at any level. I’m particularly happy with this one because it’s been a while since I last won, ”Yamaguchi told reporters in Odense, Denmark about her first title since January 2020 when she won the Thailand Masters.

Momota withdraws from the semi-finals of the French Open due to a leg injury

Title hope Kento Momota reached the semifinals in the men’s singles of the Yonex French Open on Saturday, October 30th.

But the best-placed Momota was eliminated from the match due to leg pain. He lost to his Japanese compatriot Kanta Tsuneyama, who recorded a 24-26, 21-11, 1-0 win in Paris.

Quotes of the week

“I can’t ask for a greater honor than this.”

ー Baseball legend Shigeo Nagashima about the appointment to the cultural order. The 85-year-old was one of nine people selected for the award this year, the government said on October 26. The Cultural Order, also known as Bunka-kunshō (文化 勲 章), honors people who have made profound contributions to Japanese society.

“While I am enjoying the thrill of finally bringing all the things I can do to Japan, I will prepare each aspect well one at a time.”

Naoya Inou, the IBF and WBA bantamweight champion, preparing for Thai challenger Aran Dipaen on December 14th at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

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

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

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Author: Ed Odeven

Follow Ed on JAPAN Forwards [Japan Sports Notebook] here sundays, in [Odds and Evens] here during the week and Twitter ed_odeven.


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