Another Yankees scandal! Well, OK, maybe not.

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This is a weird story:  The Yankees have run “subway races” on their scoreboard for a few years now. Basically they’re the on-screen equivalent of the racing sausages or presidents or what have you. Lots of parks do it with various characters. Subways, dots, ducks, etc.

Until this year, the three racing subways had always been labeled as the B train, the D train and the number 4 train, which are the three subway lines that serve Yankee Stadium.  For complicated reasons that sound more like a “Three’s Company” episode than a business negotiation over naming rights for an animated feature, the Yankees ended up changing the labeling to “Road Gray,” “Midnight Blue” and “Pinstripes” this season.  This angered people. Partially because people don’t like change. Partially because people don’t like dumb things.

Anyway, it all seems to be resolved now, as MTA and the Yankees have agreed to change things back to B, D and 4 starting tonight. This, I think, is a good thing.

For my part, the “racing whatevers” thing is done well in Milwaukee and everyplace else is derivative or lame.  Especially when it’s contrived and one of the racers — like Teddy Roosevelt at Nats Park or Mustard at Columbus Clippers games — never get to win.  It’s tired. My suggestion is that we should replace these contests with something more … interesting.

Like a hunt. For the most dangerous prey of all: man.

The Japanese playoffs are super unfair

Hiroshima Carp
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I know a little about Japanese baseball. Not a lot, mind you. Like, I couldn’t hold my own with people who actually watch it or report on it or whatever, but I could explain some of the broad differences and similarities between the NPB and the U.S. majors.  I can say a few things about how the two leagues compare competitively speaking. I can name some stars and (I think) all the clubs. But there’s, quite obviously, a ton I don’t know.

A thing I did not know until today: the NPB playoffs are really messed up.

The NPB is divided into two leagues, the Central and the Pacific, with the winner of each league facing off in the Japan Series. Like the U.S. majors, they have preliminary playoff rounds in each league. Each league has three playoff teams, with the second and third seed teams playing a series first, and the winner of that series playing the top seed — the team with the best record in the league — in what is called the Climax Series.

Here’s the weird part: the higher-seeded team in the Climax Series — the team which won the league in the regular season — gets every single playoff game at home. What’s more, that team begins the Climax Series with an automatic 1-0 advantage. So, yes, it’s a seven-game series on paper, but one of the teams only has to win three games to advance to the Japan Series.

Oh, in Japan, they also have no problems ending a playoff game early if it rains. That’s what happened in the Central League Climax Series last night, where the lower-seeded Yokohama BayStars took on the league champ Hiroshima Carp. Here’s the report from Jason Coskrey of The Japan Times:

The rainy conditions in Hiroshima caused the umpires to stop play for over 30 minutes and ultimately call the game after five innings, minutes after the Carp put three runs on the board. Just like that, it was over. The Carp won 3-0, with Yokohama robbed of the four innings (at least) it would’ve had to try and rally.

Even better: as Coskrey notes, there are five days in between the end of the Climax Series and the beginning of the Japan Series, so there is no reason they could not suspend a game and resume it the next day. They just choose not to. The upshot: the Carp were staked to a 2-0 series lead despite the fact that they had only played five innings of baseball. UPDATE: they played a full game today, the BayStars won, so now it’s 2-1 Hiroshima.

Imagine if that happened in the NLCS. Imagine if the Dodgers began the series with a 1-0 lead over the Cubs and played all of their games in Los Angeles. Imagine there was a freak L.A. storm and it ended one of the game in the fifth inning, right after Justin Turner hit a homer. I’m pretty sure people would riot.

Kinda makes our complaints about the replay system seem rather quaint, eh?