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Bonus baseball from Japan

by Matt Smith

Just a couple of weeks after lamenting the end of the MLB season, some bonus baseball is on its way from Japan.

A team of MLB players, including Robinson Cano, Yasiel Puig and Evan Longoria, are heading to Japan for an All-Star series of games against Samurai Japan, which is essentially the Japanese national team.

The games will be available to watch live or on-demand online via MLB.TV, although there doesn’t appear to be any coverage in the U.K. via the BT Sport/ESPN channels.

Anyone who bought an annual MLB.TV subscription for the 2014 season will be able to watch the games as part of that package as the subscription term lasts until the 2015 Spring Training games begin, so you can continue to watch MLB.TV archives throughout the winter without a new subscription. New customers can buy an off-season subscription for $25 (approximately £16) that will also include 2015 Spring Training games.

There are seven games on the tour with the five official series games being bookended by two exhibition contests. The games all start at 9 a.m. U.K. time except for the last game of the official series on Tuesday 18th which gets going one hour later. That means it will be a role reversal for us and fans in the States, who will be facing the early morning start (4 a.m. Eastern Time) that we’re familiar with.

It’s doubtful too many Americans will be missing sleep to watch the contests live as the results don’t really matter; however, you could look at them just like Spring Training games.

When the Spring games come along we’re all so glad to see baseballl starting again that we can overlook the lack of fierce competitive spirit and enjoy them for what they are. The same goes for the Japan series: it’s bonus baseball at a time when normally we’d be having to do without.

In the case of the Japan series, we do also get the bonus of enjoying the different baseball culture on the field and in the stands that the Japanese provide. The crowds are more like very polite football fans, with lots of noise and songs for every player, than the typical Major League crowd in the U.S. The official series will visit three cities, Osaka, Tokyo and Sapparo, with the final exhibition taking place in Okinawa.

There should also be some good Japanese players on show to take a look at alongside the known Major Leaguers, not least pitcher Kenta Maeda who may be set to follow Masahiro Tanaka over to the States this offseason.

Complete schedule

Tuesday 11th – Exhibition game versus Hanshin Tigers/Yomiuri Giants

Wednesday 12th – Series Game No. 1

Friday 14th – Series Game No. 2

Saturday 15th – Series Game No. 3

Sunday 16th – Series Game No. 4

Tuesday 18th – Series Game No. 5

Thursday 20th – Exhibition game versus Samurai Japan

All games start at 9 a.m. except for the game on Tuesday 18th that starts at 10 a.m.

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