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Darvish criticizes Japan's high school baseball system

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Without Sasaki, who threw one pitch at 160 kilometers (99.4 miles) per hour in his 194-pitch game on Sunday, Ofunato lost its final 12-2, ending the school's summer campaign.

So the coach benched him but he still threw 194 pitches on Sunday. And he threw 129 pitches the day before.

The writing needs to be fixed.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

It's good Darvish said it is correct to protect the players first. People need to understand that the strategies and expertise used in playing the game is more important than winning. In my view, Ofunato (Sakai's) group also won the game by respecting the players.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Thumbs up to that coach who probably and hopefully saved that young man's arm to become a pro later on.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Japan's high school baseball exists not for young players but for "baka oyaji"  high school baseball fans and NHK that broadcasts all the games sacrificing regular programs and sponsors Asahi Shinbun in summer and Mainichi Shinbun in spring.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Japan’s high school baseball system is a joke. They practice at least 20 hours a week for years in end. They should be the best in the world, but they are far from it.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

"...for years IN end." The corrected expression is: 'For years ON end."

Other than that, I agree with you.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

It's not only the high school baseball system but all the sports. The kids practice for long hours everyday, have early morning practices and it's a win, or die trying attitude instilled when the mind and body are still growing and vulnerable. In fact, I could take it one step further and say the whole education system needs an overhaul.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

So the coach benched him but he still threw 194 pitches on Sunday. And he threw 129 pitches the day before. 

The writing needs to be fixed.

He obviously threw the pitches from the bench.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Japanese people praise those who sacrifice himself or herself for the entirety. This bad tradition must be changed. It led Japan to wars in the past.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Good on Darvish.... many of us that have been here for years know how sports programs are run here. So its good to see someone that is famous speak out. Things are slowly getting better.... things are definitely better now than they were 30 years ago, but much can be improved upon.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The point of men and boys engaging in sports in this country is pain.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

its not criticism, its common sense

6 ( +7 / -1 )

While winning is important, what makes a great high school coach great is that they care about their players and want to protect their futures.

Kokubo has been criticized by some for putting one pitcher's health ahead of the team's desire to win.

This is what I call a great coach who is willing to protect his pitchers future and let the kid know, there is more after high school.

I am sure if the coach decided not to bench his star pitcher and then the kid got injured, the coach would have heavily been criticized then as well; however, he would have also lost the respect of his student. Who would blame the coach for jeopardizing his future.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The chronology I get is this:

Sunday: Sasaki threw 194-pitches, one of which was at 160 kilometers.

Monday & Tuesday: not mentioned.

Wednesday: Sasaki threw 129 pitches.

Thursday: Sasaki didn’t pitch and his tram lost

4 ( +7 / -3 )

In the Okinawa Prefectural final game, which lasted 13 innings, Konan"s pitcher, threw over 200 pitches, the day after, in the semifinal game, he threw nearly 140 pitches.

It's insane to have a 18 year throw THAT many pitches, and to those that "complain" about the team's chances of victory, I can guarantee they NEVER pitched a day in their lives!

8 ( +9 / -1 )

@Educator60

That is a lot of pitches in a one week period. Here is the pitch rules and laws for US high school baseball. These are maximum allowed pitches.

Age Number of pitches Games per week

15-16 97 2

17-18 106 2

So the 300+ pitches in a 7 day period is a lot for a high school pitcher.

Below are the mandatory rest days for a pitcher if they throw a certain amount on 1 game.

Age 1 day 2 day 3 day 4 day

15-16 25 38 62 77

17-18 27 45 62 89

5 ( +6 / -1 )

In Iwate Prefecture's tournament final, Ofunato High School's manager Yohei Kokubo benched flame-throwing senior Roki Sasaki after he threw 129 pitches the day before. Kokubo has been criticized by some for putting one pitcher's health ahead of the team's desire to win. Without Sasaki, who threw one pitch at 160 kilometers (99.4 miles) per hour in his 194-pitch game on Sunday, Ofunato lost its final 12-2, ending the school's summer campaign.

What a poorly written article! He pitched 194 pitches LAST Sunday in the quarter finals, and then pitched 129 on Wednesday, and was held back on Thursday right?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

@shonanbb Today 04:14 pm JST

Thumbs up to that coach who probably and hopefully saved that young man's arm to become a pro later on.

The problem is that we'll never know that. All everyone will know is that the winning streak was broken as soon as he's put in reserve, when there was no clear sign of malfunction.

Personally I am a bit conflicted just reading this story. Sure we get that Protect the Arm narrative, but benching him on the last game is neither here nor there. If Coach wanted to emphasize Growth over Winning, he should have had a policy and explained to his team from the get-go that they are going to practice and play in accordance to the norms, then take whatever results come their way. Having not done that, changing horses at the last minute and then losing is bound to get some criticism.

@Do the hustleToday 04:30 pm JST

Japan’s high school baseball system is a joke. They practice at least 20 hours a week for years in end. They should be the best in the world, but they are far from it.

I'll suspect that Japanese just aren't cut out to be baseball players, and if you want to reach the very top, your body type has to cooperate. A Caucasian player, for example, is simply likely to be bigger and if they both practice the same amount, who's going to throw the harder pitch is easily foreseen.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

The chronology I get is this:

Sunday: Sasaki threw 194-pitches, one of which was at 160 kilometers.

Monday & Tuesday: not mentioned.

Wednesday: Sasaki threw 129 pitches.

Thursday: Sasaki didn’t pitch and his tram lost

Why would anybody downvote this? It's just a completely accurate chronology, clarifying the otherwise confusing description in the article. Why would somebody downvote simple, objective data?

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Good on Darvish!!!

I have always CRINGED bigtime when seeing news about how some high schools have done so well by having their star pitcher pitch EVERY game or damn close to it, INSANE!

Needs to END, just FORCE teams to rest pitchers by setting proper criteria & then ALL must follow, DONE!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Another reason why a lot of the Japanese pitchers who entered the MLB have been quite injury prone. They are way overworked before going over.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I agree with Darvish for speaking up and with the school for resting him.

I note that it is a public system school, which doesn't sound like a Koshien regular. The reason "public system" matters is that it will have a catchment and cannot recruit from outside. Private schools can recruit from the whole country and put the kids in dormitories. It means that kids from Kanto and Kansai who want to play at Koshien but are unlikely to be starters at strong Kanto and Kansai baseball schools can go to private schools in inaka, who end up fielding near all-star teams of kids from the city. So before cheering on the team representing your prefecture, check how many of the kids are local. The team that often represents Nagano, Massho Gakuen, is a private school with many ringers. Because this kind of school operates as a ticket to Koshien, I would imagine they would be far less likely to rest a pitcher if they thought it would cost them qualification. The school and its traditions would come first.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

In Iwate Prefecture's tournament final, Ofunato High School's manager Yohei Kokubo benched flame-throwing senior Roki Sasaki after he threw 129 pitches the day before. Kokubo has been criticized by some for putting one pitcher's health ahead of the team's desire to win.

At any level, this is just poor man management. Don’t wear down your players until they are crock; rotate the squad so that you have a fresh team.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

The entire system of youth sports in Japan is worthy of criticism.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Google Koji Ota, if you want to see how throwing so many pitches will be great for your career.

He threw 18 straight innings, and then came back the next day and pitched again. But he wrecked his shoulder in the process.

How about Saito Yuki, the handkerchief prince from Waseda? He was in a epic battle against Masahiro Tanaka. They both pitched a crazy amount of innings and pitches, only to come back the next day and do it again. He has never pitched in the majors for an extended period of time. Tanaka, who might have had better mechanics, or luck, has pitched better, but has constantly had arm problems.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Garypen, “Why would somebody downvote simple, objective data?”

Ha ha, maybe because I made a typo on “team”? Anyway, thanks, but not to worry, people seem to downvote simple, objective data quite often. Maybe they don’t like facts that interfere with their great need to denigrate a certain people/country at any opportunity, or maybe they just dislike me, in which case, they are wasting their time because it doesn’t bother me at all.

JJ Jetplane,

Not sure why you directed your comment at me as I didn’t express any opinion as to what the correct amount of pitching is. I believe pitchers should not be made to or allowed to overdo it but I don’t know what the magic number is (I’ll leave that up to the experts). I was merely trying to clear up the confusion expressed by others as to when and how much he pitched, according to the info in the article.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

He has never pitched in the majors for an extended period of time. .

Saito never pitched in the majors, and wasnt scouted either, if memory serves me correctly, he went to Waseda and had a decent career their before being drafted by the Japanese pro league.

Tanaka on the other hand had a stellar Japanese career, even so far as going 24-0 for Rakuten in 2013. He threw something like 9 or 10 complete games as well I believe, something unheard of today.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

 The team that often represents Nagano, Massho Gakuen, is a private school with many ringers. 

FYI, they aren't "ringers", not even close, they may be decent ball players, but far from "ringers" and not all that go to those schools get to play anyway.

Konan and Okinawa Shougakku are the two "main" private school's in Okinawa and they both have won the Koshien, Konan, both spring and summer in the same season, and while they get a lot of young players from all over the place, Konan has over 120 on their team, they all dont get to play, and they certainly are not "ringers"

I get the feeling you may not know what a "ringer" really means

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Educator60

It was more so adding onto the information you added. You clearly said:

The chronology I get is this:

So I was adding that 300 or more pitches is a lot of pitches in a 7 day period.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

INSANITY that they have yet to change the rules to institute pitch counts! How many good, young Japanese pitchers have to suffer torn UCL thus requiring Tommy John surgery before they change things around???

Remember when Daisuke Matsuzaka had some insane pitching counts at Koshien? True insanity, S&M, torture, whatever you want to call it, maybe all three! It ruined him, he could've been a good MLB pitcher iMO. They might've ruined Ohtani! Certainly Darvish is not the same and probably won't be after TJ surgery. His velocity is down since the surgery which tends to be the case, and was going down before he blew out his UCL. Whether he ever returns to near 100 mph is highly unlikely IMO. He's probably done in a season or two unless he can command some better off-speed stuff.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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