This weekâ€™s collection of websites worth visiting concentrates on Japanese baseball.Â You would think the wide array of nationalities that can be found in MLB would be enough evidence that baseball isnâ€™t just a sport played by Americans, but many Brits still donâ€™t see past the idea of the sport being Americaâ€™s National Pastime.Â In some ways thatâ€™s not surprising because football fans are used to there being many different leagues of decent strength in other countries, even just in Europe.Â
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.Â Iâ€™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.Â
We start with the English version of the official Nippon Professional Baseball website.Â Itâ€™s functional rather than being especially captivating, providing visitors with standard information such as schedules, standings and stats.Â 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.Â 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.Â It doesnâ€™t just cover the NPB, but all parts of Japanese baseball: college teams, high school teams, independent leagues etc.Â If thatâ€™s a bit too much detail to get to grips with at first, there is a useful â€˜Various Handy Postsâ€™ box on the right-hand side of the page to direct you to main areas of interest, including the delights of the â€˜Cheer Songsâ€™ page.
Japanese Baseball.com provides stats and news as well as blogs and a discussion section, which might come in useful if youâ€™ve got any queries about Japanese baseball.Â Youâ€™ll notice that there is a â€˜Live broadcastsâ€™ link in the main menu and judged by the archive files they may offer some live English commentary of NPB games here.Â 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 â€œDaily News, Scores, Standings, Stats, Directories and Baseball Travel and Tour Informationâ€.Â I found the â€˜Baseball Japan – Teamsâ€™ 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 â€˜Marinerds, etcâ€™ blog looks like a good place to visit regularly.Â Itâ€™s written by Deanna, an American living in Tokyo/Saitama, and itâ€™s fair to say sheâ€™s quite keen on baseball: she attended 122 games in 2009!