Can we see ‘Kuriyama Magic’ one more time?
Shortly after the Japanese national team won the WBC (World Baseball Classic), coach Hideki Kuriyama (61) made remarks that seemed to suggest his resignation. He added, “As of today, after the final against the United States, my job as manager ends. From tomorrow, I will be a man without a title.”
It was read as meaning that he would no longer be in charge of the national team coach. His term of office ends with this tournament, and it was seen as meaning that he had no intention of continuing his term.
In December 2021, he rose to the command tower and focused on the national team for 1 year and 3 months. He left the Nippon Ham Fighters after 10 years and took over the national team. He succeeded coach Atsunori Inaba (51), who won the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Suyoshi Shinzo (51), who finished his playing career at Nippon Ham, took the helm of the Fighters, and Inaba moved to general manager.
Coach Kuriyama is a former infielder for the Yakult Swallows. Due to a chronic illness, he did not play for long. He wasn’t even a star player. After his retirement, he received his degree and stood on the university podium. After working as a baseball commentator, he became a professional team manager. This is a very peculiar case.
He is a leader who is good at communicating and knows how to deal with players’ minds delicately. The trust of the players is strong. He is a respected leader. Coach Kuriyama succeeded by boldly changing the generation of the Japanese national team, focusing on young players in their early and mid-20s.
He played directly to form the strongest power for the championship in 14 years. If not for him, Yu Darvish (37, San Diego) and Shohei Ohtani (29, LA Angels) might not have participated in the national team.
Darvish, who was the Nippon Ham ace, left for the major leagues at the end of 2012, right after manager Kuriyama took over. He was a passing relationship. By the way, it is said that at the time, I made a promise with director Kuriyama that we would be together at least once.
Since high school, Ohtani has been a player that major league clubs have been paying attention to. Prior to graduating from high school, he announced that he was going to the major leagues. He was requesting that he not be nominated for a Japanese professional baseball team.
It was the Nippon Ham team and coach Kuriyama who persuaded Ohtani that it would be better to challenge Ohtani by gaining experience in the domestic league. Coach Kuriyama is a teacher who actively supported ‘Double Swords’, along with ‘Nippon Ham Otani’ and ‘Double Strike’.
Last year, he went to the United States twice and met Japanese Major Leaguers such as Ohtani, Darvish, and Seiya Suzuki (29, Chicago Cubs). Darvish said, “Coach Kuriyama never asked me to join the national team.” Still, it moved his heart.
As promised, Ohtani and Darvish announced their participation in the national team through personal SNS.
Major league players had to stay at their team’s camp until early March, but Darvish participated in training camps with the Japanese national team from February 17th. He persuaded the San Diego club to join early. He was the ‘mental support’ of the national team, which was mainly composed of young players.
Despite negative views from some in the Japanese baseball world, Japanese-American outfielder Lars Nutba (26, St. Louis) was selected as the representative. The first Japanese representative of American nationality was born. Nutba actively integrated into the team. He contributed to the championship with a fighting play in Gongsuju. In the Japanese national team, after Ohtani, Nutba was the most notable player.
Sadaharu Oh, president of the Softbank club, who led the championship in the first tournament, praised, “Coach Kuriyama must have had a lot of trouble with how to gather excellent players and use them, but he did well. He made a decision when a decision was needed and thought it was great.”
When coach Kuriyama made a remark that seemed to imply his resignation right after winning the championship, talk of a successor to lead the WBC national team three years later poured out.
Tatsunori Hara, Yomiuri Giants manager (65), and Kimiyasu Kudo, former Softbank Hawks manager (60), were mentioned. Coach Hara has the experience of leading Japan to victory in the second tournament in 2009. Former coach Kudo is a legend with a total of 224 wins. He was very successful as a leader. During his 7 years at the helm of Softbank, he led it to 5 Japan Series championships.
Former Yakult Swallows coach Atsuya Furuta (57) and Ichiro Suzuki (50), who enjoyed an era as a “master catcher,” were also summoned. If Ichiro, a former ‘superstar’ with no coaching experience, is in charge of the national team, it is certain that his every move will become a hot topic. He is a key player in the 2006 and 2009 WBC championships.
There is also a story about an incumbent professional team coach. Masato Chiba, Lotte Marines coach (57), Shingo Takatsu (55), Yakult coach Satoshi Nakajima (54), Orix Buffaloes coach Satoshi Nakajima (54), and even Nippon Ham manager Shinjo came out as pitching coaches for the national team. Yakult and Orix are teams that have won two consecutive league titles.
It is a successor plan with three years in mind. An incumbent coach cannot immediately take over the baton. The next national team will be convened in November to participate in the Asian Professional Baseball Championship. It is a competition for young players.
In the current situation, Kuriyama’s second term seems to be the best. He is very vocal about the need to somehow convince him to let him continue to take over the team.
Coach Kuriyama appeared on a news program of a Japanese broadcasting company on the 23rd and explained his remarks right after his victory. He said, “After the tournament, the contract expires and I have to take off my uniform. It meant that I could think again when a new contract offer came.”
It seems to have left open the possibility of a second term. It is still unclear whether coach Kuriyama, who overcame tremendous pressure and achieved his championship goal, will continue to take over.
Sadaharu Oh, Hara, Koji Yamamoto,메이저사이트 and Hiroki Kokubo coached the Japanese national team in the first to fourth episodes. They won the 1st and 2nd competitions, and placed 3rd in a row in the 3rd and 4th competitions in which a team was formed with Japanese domestic league players without major league players.