Baseball / MLB

PL clubs to unite to fend off CL clubs' move


The six Pacific League clubs are expected to unite against a move by Central League clubs toward keeping the two-league system in Japanese professional baseball, Kintetsu Buffaloes President Tetsuya Kobayashi said Tuesday.

Kobayashi said the PL clubs are working to unify their stances before the executive committee of the governing body of pro baseball, Nippon Professional Baseball, meets next Monday to discuss issues linked to the planned merger between the Buffaloes and Orix BlueWave.

“We’ll put together our opinions within this week because there is a move going fast in a different direction,” Kobayashi said. “I think they will be shaped by a unified opinion from the Pacific League.”

The owners of the 12 ball clubs gave the green light to the merger plan between Kintetsu and Orix when they met July 7.

In the meeting, Seibu Lions owner Yoshiaki Tsutsumi said another merger plan is in the pipeline in the PL and added he prefers to have just one league beginning next season.

The majority of CL clubs, including the Hanshin Tigers and Chunichi Dragons, made it clear last week that they are opposed to a shift to one league from the two-league system created in 1950.

“My understanding is that we should follow the direction set at the owners meeting,” Kobayashi said, noting the opposition to the merger “has been expressed only by some Central League clubs.”

Kobayashi also criticized these CL clubs for making a proposal to play interleague games during the regular season as a way to maintain the two-league system.

“I believe all the Pacific League clubs are thinking ‘why now’ after the Central League strongly rejected that idea for many years,” Kobayashi said.

Revamped Koshien

OSAKA (Kyodo) Koshien Stadium, the home of the Hanshin Tigers, will be repaired to become a state-of-the-art ballpark by around 2010, officials of Hanshin Electric Railway Co. said Tuesday.

The Osaka-based railway operator, which owns the Tigers, plans to undertake the repair work only in off-seasons, beginning in the fall of 2008, and it is likely the whole process of revamping the stadium will require two to three years.

The stadium is located in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, and will mark the 80th anniversary of its inauguration Aug. 1. It is also the permanent host for the national high school baseball championship.

No roof will be added to the stadium and it will likely continue to have natural grass, the officials said.

The company is studying ways to keep alive the thick tangle of ivy on the outside wall of the stadium.