This season, for the first time Central League ballclubs are required to announce their starting pitchers a day in advance, a policy instituted by the rival Pacific League in 1994.
The move is aimed at increasing sagging attendance in the CL, but I wonder if fans will actually benefit from the league’s decision to announce the starters before games this season.
For example, would Chunichi Dragons fans not have enjoyed the team’s season opener if they hadn’t known until the start of the game whether Kazuki Yoshimi or Masahiro Yamamoto was going to be the starting pitcher?
I believe the introduction of announcing starters also makes it difficult to use the so-called “art of warfare for the disadvantaged.” This is a phrase former Yakult Swallows and Hanshin Tigers manager Katsuya Nomura often used when he was managing the Central League teams. It means that teams with inferior talent can use the strategy of hiding their starters to help even the playing field a bit. Teams can get thrown off not knowing whether they will be facing a right-hander or a lefty.
Former Dragons manager Hiromitsu Ochiai often employed a strategy designed to leave opponents guessing right up to game time. Meanwhile, the Yomiuri Giants had a wealth of strong players but often mistakenly predicted their opponents’ starting pitchers.
How many starting pitchers in the Central League can attract fans when they are announced? How is this system helping the Central League? The system seems to only benefit teams with plenty of star players. Is it really meant to please the fans?
I look forward to figuring all this out this season.
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