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While the NPB All-Star Series doesn’t land exactly at the midpoint of the season it splits the year in two very well symbolically if not mathematically. No matter how you slice it, the regular season resumed on Monday, signaling the start of a two month race to the finish line.

Because of the premium NPB’s playoff system places on winning a league pennant — a first-stage bye in the Climax Series and an automatic 1-0 lead in the final stage, a six-game series hosted entirely by the first-place team — it’s hard to downplay the importance of the season’s prolonged denouement.

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