Baseball is resuming in Japan, delayed a few weeks by the earthquake and tsunami. Everyone in a position of authority is noting how baseball coming back will restore a sense of normalcy to life. But as Robert Whiting — the author of the fabulous book about baseball in Japan, You Gotta Have Wa — notes, practically speaking, it’s not that simple:
There is not enough electric power to enable the normal schedule of night games to proceed, and given the power outages, many people, especially those in the affected areas, won’t be able to watch the games on TV, assuming they still have a functioning TV set.
“Watching baseball is not the first thing on anyone’s mind in Tokyo either,” said Kozo Abe, a sports reporter with the Fuji-Sankei media group. “The Japanese feeling at the moment is that they are not ready to root for the revival of Japanese baseball from the bottom of their heart.”
But they’re doing it anyway. And some in the game — notably, Yomuri Giants’ President Takuo Takihana — are sniffing at the many game time and duration restrictions designed to conserve electricity. Others, while noting the need for the restrictions and doubting whether the country is emotionally prepared for the normalcy being imposed by NPB, acknowledge that it will be difficult to achieve it given the absence of the usual trappings of Japanese baseball such as bright lights, loud music, and “cute girls in miniskirts selling draft beer and octopus snacks.”