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On the podium after winning the Japan Series, standing before over 35,000 screaming Fukuoka Softbank Hawks fans, Seiichi Uchikawa dispelled one of the popular narratives of the Hawks’ push for the title.

The Hawks had been sad to hear (before the postseason) that manager Koji Akiyama was leaving, but Thursday night’s series-clinching 1-0 victory over the Hanshin Tigers wasn’t just about Akiyama. It was about the work the team put in last year during fall camp, and this year in spring training and throughout the season. The Hawks were happy to send Akiyama out on top, but just as pleased to have gotten there for themselves.

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