In response to the events of March 11, causing the 2011 season openers to be postponed, Nippon Professional Baseball has come out with a revised schedule for games in April, but there is a lot of confusion about who will be playing where, which games have been moved from the original schedule to a new venue and how many games have been changed from night to day.
One fan, a tourist visiting from Australia, arrived in Osaka on March 28 and tried to get tickets to the March 29 Hanshin Tigers-Chunichi Dragons game at Kyocera Osaka Dome. Apparently, he had not heard the start of the season had been delayed and all games through April 10 had been canceled.
Also uninformed was another fan who knew of the delay and wanted to attend an opening day game on April 12, seeing either the Yomiuri Giants-Yakult Swallows at Tokyo Dome or the Saitama Seibu Lions-Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters at Seibu’s domed ball park in Tokorozawa.
The fan does not speak or read Japanese but wrote in an e-mail, “I can usually figure out the ticket machine at one of the Lawson’s convenience stores, but this time I got an error message I could not decipher and was unable to get the tickets. What happened?”
Here the problem is neither the Giants nor the Lions are playing their season openers in their home stadiums. Yomiuri is scheduled to play Yakult at Ube Municipal Stadium in Ube City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, on April 12 and at Kitakyushu Civic Stadium on the 13th. That series is on the original schedule. The Lions-Fighters series is now Fighters-Lions, having been moved to Sapporo Dome.
If the guy wants to see an opening day game in the Kanto area, there are two chances. The Yokohama BayStars and Chunichi Dragons are set to play at Yokohama Stadium at 1 p.m., and the Chiba Lotte Marines will take on the Rakuten Eagles at QVC Marine Field (formerly Chiba Marine Stadium), also at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, April 12.
In an effort to clear up some of the confusion regarding the schedule, the Baseball Bullet-In offers the following review summary of what we know and what we don’t know; subject to change at any time.
What we know:
• Both the Central and Pacific Leagues are scheduled to open the 2011 NPB season on Tuesday, April 12. The match-ups are Giants-Swallows at Ube, BayStars-Dragons at Yokohama, Tigers-Carp at Koshien, Fighters-Lions at Sapporo Dome, Marine-Eagles at Chiba and Buffaloes-Hawks at Osaka Dome.
• The Giants-Carp series scheduled for Tokyo Dome April 15-17 has been moved to Hiroshima’s Mazda Zoom Zoom Stadium; now a Carp-Giants card.
• The Giants-Dragons series scheduled for Tokyo Dome April 22-24 has been shelved. It might have been shifted to Nagoya Dome, but there are other events going on that weekend at Chunichi’s home park.
• A Swallows-Giants series scheduled for Jingu Stadium in Tokyo April 26-28 has been moved to Kusanagi Stadium in Shizuoka.
• The Eagles-Buffaloes series scheduled for Kleenex Stadium in Sendai on April 15-17 has been moved to Koshien Stadium in Nishinomiya.
• The Eagles-Fighters series scheduled in Sendai on April 22-24 has been moved to Hotto Motto (formerly Skymark) Stadium in Kobe.
• A Lions-Eagles series scheduled at Seibu Dome April 26-28 has been cut to two games (April 26-27) and moved to Ojiyama Stadium in Shiga Prefecture.
• No games will be played at Tokyo Dome or Seibu Dome during April, and all games to be played at Jingu Stadium in Tokyo, QVC Marine Field in Chiba and Yokohama Stadium during April will be day games, in order to save on electric power.
• No games will be played at Kleenex Stadium in Sendai through April 28. The Rakuten Eagles expect to play there against the Orix Buffaloes on Friday, April 29, the first holiday of Golden Week.
• The 144-game schedule will be adhered to, and dates for the post-season Climax Series and the 2011 Japan Series have been moved back. The playoffs should begin about Oct. 29 and the Japan Series Nov. 12.
What we don’t know:
• Exactly when the next revised schedule will be issued. NPB officials and teams are scrambling to confirm game dates and times after May 1 and release a new schedule as soon as it is ready.
• When — or even if — games can be played at Tokyo Dome or Seibu Dome this season. Speculation ranges from resuming games at the two covered ballparks during Golden Week (Giants-Tigers and Lions-Marines May 3-5) to not playing at all at either domed stadium during 2011.
• When and how canceled games will be made up as the season goes along.
Will they fill in open dates?
Obviously, schedules printed prior to March 11 may be unreliable. Please check the NPB websites for revised game dates and starting times.
Beginning this month, the Baseball Bullet-In will appear in the print edition of The Japan Times only once each month, usually on the first Sunday. The column will continue to run weekly in the online edition each Sunday.
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