Pre-ample: I am far enough removed from the regular habit of writing that it would be reasonable to expect this post to be not very good. Let's call this a first draft.
So we're 12 days on from the devastating Tohoku Earthquake. There is obviously long road ahead for the victims in Northeast Japan, but viewed from my perspective, things are beginning to progress. The reporting on the news outlets I follow is shifting from the shocking damage and loss of life to grieving and recovery, spiked with nuclear fears from the troubled Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant.
The top story on the sports dailies is the ongoing thread about when and how to start baseball. I touched on the divide between the players and ownership in a news roundup last week - in a nutshell, the owners have pushed to start the season with minimal delays, while the players have favored a more conservative schedule. I've actually had a hard time keeping up with the day to day progression of things, but the key issues are power shortages in Tokyo and northern Japan, a temporary home for Rakuten, and just simply allowing enough time for the people to recover. I'm not going to discuss that set of issues right now though.
What I am going to say is that I think baseball will have a role in Japan's recovery. The first thing that comes to mind is the 1995 Orix BlueWave, who in the wake of the Great Hanshin Earthquake wore patches reading Ganbarou Kobe on their uniforms, and won the Pacific League title. Rakuten will eventually play that role, when the time is right. For now, we have the spring Koshien Senbatsu tournament (see Ken's post). If there was any controversy over the Koshien games being played, I didn't pick up on it. I'm glad that Koshien is going ahead; for most of the kids involved it is the thrill of a lifetime. The adults in NPB are doing the right, responsible thing in considering the impact of their games, and I think it's equally right that the kids are getting to play.
The Tohoku region has a representative in the senbatsu, Tohoku High School from Miyagi Prefecture. I don't know how good they are, but I will cheering for them this tournament.