Home MLB Web Pick of the Week: Japanese Baseball

Web Pick of the Week: Japanese Baseball

by Matt Smith

Web-PickThis week’s collection of websites worth visiting concentrates on Japanese baseball.  You would think the wide array of nationalities that can be found in MLB would be enough evidence that baseball isn’t just a sport played by Americans, but many Brits still don’t see past the idea of the sport being America’s National Pastime.  In some ways that’s not surprising because football fans are used to there being many different leagues of decent strength in other countries, even just in Europe. 

In baseball, MLB is pretty much considered to be the only show in town, but the Nippon Professional Baseball League is a strong competition in its own right and is the best example of baseball outside the States that we can throw at the cynics.  I’ve therefore decided to learn more about the Nippon Professional Baseball League in Japan this year and that naturally sent my trawling the web to find some useful sites. 

We start with the English version of the official Nippon Professional Baseball website.  It’s functional rather than being especially captivating, providing visitors with standard information such as schedules, standings and stats.  The site primes you with the basic information that there are two leagues, Central and Pacific, each containing six teams who each play a regular season of 144 games.  For some reason I had got it into my head that the Japanese League ran to a different timetable to that used in MLB, but in fact their season is fairly similar: running from late March to early November.

YakyuBaka.com is updated at a very impressive rate and contains an amazing amount of detailed information.  It doesn’t just cover the NPB, but all parts of Japanese baseball: college teams, high school teams, independent leagues etc.  If that’s a bit too much detail to get to grips with at first, there is a useful ‘Various Handy Posts’ box on the right-hand side of the page to direct you to main areas of interest, including the delights of the ‘Cheer Songs’ page.

Japanese Baseball.com provides stats and news as well as blogs and a discussion section, which might come in useful if you’ve got any queries about Japanese baseball.  You’ll notice that there is a ‘Live broadcasts’ link in the main menu and judged by the archive files they may offer some live English commentary of NPB games here.  Another site that seemingly can direct you to coverage of NPB games is NPB Tracker: an informative blog site by Patrick Newman, who has recently started writing at FanGraphs as well (check out his recent Q&As here and here).

JapanBall.com promises “Daily News, Scores, Standings, Stats, Directories and Baseball Travel and Tour Information”.  I found the ‘Baseball Japan – Teams’ page particularly useful in learning a bit more about the different clubs that make up the NPB.

Finally, if you want to read about Japanese baseball through the eyes of a fan, the ‘Marinerds, etc’ blog looks like a good place to visit regularly.  It’s written by Deanna, an American living in Tokyo/Saitama, and it’s fair to say she’s quite keen on baseball: she attended 122 games in 2009!

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'Okawari' Phil February 5, 2010 - 3:31 pm


I’m a big fan of Japanese baseball; going way back to the 1980’s when I played for a predominately Japanese team called The Regents Park Eagles.

Deanna’s Marinerds etc. website has lots of great photos.

A couple of other good sites are Trans Pacific Radio and their spin of Yakult Swallows fan site;

TPR Spotlight (www.transpacificradio.com/category/tpr-spotlight) has pre-season preview and mid-season catch-up podcasts and sometimes looks back at the Japan Series.

The two guys that present it (an American AND A BRIT) are fans of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows and they have another website:-

If you live in London there are a couple of Japanese shops in Brewer Street Soho where you can get potato crisps with Japanese baseball cards attached and copies of ‘Sports Graphic Number’ (the Japanese equivalent of Sports Illustrated). It’s in Japanese but it has some good colour photos and it’s only about £1.80 a copy?

‘Okawari’ Phil

Thomas Ogilvie February 6, 2010 - 8:33 am

Nice article! The lone game between the Yomiuri Giants and the Yakult Swallows I saw when in Japan in 2007 remains to this day the only baseball game I’ve attended in person, sad to say! Great atmosphere though. Let it not be said that the NPB is simply MLB in Japanese – the ball is slightly different, the infield doesn’t always have base paths and tied games are allowed. It’s the little things that make a big difference!

Matt Smith February 6, 2010 - 4:06 pm

Thanks for those links Okawari Phil! Looks like there are a lot of good resources out there for Japanese baseball.

Hi Thomas. I tihnk I read that not only do they use a different ball in the NPB than in the Majors, but that they use more than one make (if I’m remembering correctly, this is about to change and there will be one manufacturer/supplier this year).

Also, the great Bill Chuck coincidentally passed on the following news in his latest “FROM THE BILL CHUCK FILES…”:
“Japanese umpires will start counting balls first, and then strikes, in the upcoming season as used in the major leagues. Until now in Japan a full count was 2-3, instead of 3-2 which explains why Daisuke Matsuzaka has been so comfortable going to a full-count on so many batters.”


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