OK, this really looks like it’s for real. I held off posting until enough mainstream media outlets picked up the story that I could be sure I was not reporting rumors.
After Senichi Hoshino reiterated his refusal to lead Japan’s team again, Sadaharu Oh, NPB Commissioner Ryozo Kato, and the rest of the crew flipped their approach around 180 degress and decided to go with an active manager. Not only is Yomiuri skipper Tatsunori Hara still an active manager, his team is still in the Japan Series, has Fall camp coming up, and could be starting Spring training during the WBC. So much for wanting the manager’s undivided attention.
I’m going to be cynical and say that the manager of Japan’s national team has to be a celebrity, which means he has to be a former star player, has to have a Japan Series title under his belt, and has to be an eager participant in the good old boys’ network of Japanese baseball. Hara fits the bill.
While I think Hara’s performance has been overrated as manager of the Giants, his experience there might make him well-suited to the WBC job. After all, in fairness he’s done pretty well at letting a team of stars do their thing and win. The real test of immediate impact will be how well he uses his ptiching staff in the WBC and he hasn’t done too badly at that with Yomiuri.
I’m not a fan, but I expect him to be an improvement over Hoshino.