It's on, or should that be off. There will be no professional baseball in Japan this weekend. Talks between the Japan Baseball Players Association and the owners broke down on Friday night.
At issue is the planned merger between the Orix BlueWave and Kintetsu Buffaloes. The association, concerned about player redundancies, opposed the merger then offered a compromise of deferring the merger till 2006 so that another club could take its place. The owners refused.
No games this weekend, and possibly every weekend until and if the dispute is resolved. The players association say that the less attended weekday games will continue. No sign yet of the owners imposing a lockout. The dispute appears set to claim the scalp of baseball commissioner Yashuchika Negoro.
I'm not holding my breath for the ICFTU to be taking an interest in this one.
The Giants (83-65) beat the Padres 4-1 and remain half-a-game in front of the Cubs (81-64) in the NL wildcard chase. Chicago beat Cincinnati 12-4, with home runs to Derrek Lee, Ben Grieve and Carlos Zambrano. Carlos Zambrano? The Cubs' starting pitcher, who has a career batting average of .188, hit his third home run in the major leagues in the 6th inning.
Frank Francisco has been suspended for the rest of the season after he, as Dave Fairbank of the Hampton Roads (Virginia) Daily News puts it, " he shot-putted a chair into the stands" on Monday night. He has appealed, and will be hoping the case drags on so that he will miss less games. Should have got twelve months in my opinion. Other Rangers disciplined by the MLB on Friday were Doug Brocail (seven games), Carlos Almanzar (five games), and hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo (five games). Obviously Jaramillo didn't coach these guys well enough. Brocail and Almanzar have also lodged appeals.
The Frisco Rough Riders are the 2004 Texas League champions after taking the best-of-seven series against the Round Rock Express 4-1. They won Game Five on Friday night 6-5. It was the Express' farewell to the Texas League. They have been promoted to the AAA Pacific Coast League from 2005.
Cuba play Venezuela in the final of the V Mundialito Preinfantil in Caracas today. More on this tournament, which is for 9-10 year olds would you believe, once I can translate the reports from Spanish. I can find nothing in English on this tournament this week, despite the (rather unsuccessful) presence of a USA team. Also to come, a look at the playoffs in the Hoofdklasse of the Dutch honkbal.