Here’s this week’s Media Mix, which is about the war of words going on between the Shimbuns Asahi and Yomiuri over a “scoop” Asahi ran in February concerning the Yomiuri Giants’ baseball team paying huge amounts of money for contract signing bonuses in violation of an agreement with other teams. The point is that all the other major media have decided to let these two heavyweights battle it out on their own and haven’t made as much of a peep either way, editorially speaking. Maybe it’s not worth it. I, for one, think that the Japanese media spends way too much time and resources on baseball, but that fact alone makes it strange that no one else has commented on the contretemps.
Another baseball-related matter that seems to have gone unremarked in the major media–or even in the minor media, for that matter–is Hideki Matsui’s disappearance. Of course, Matsui hasn’t literally disappeared, but ever since the Oakland Athletics dropped him at the end of last season he’s been conspicuously missing from the Japanese sports pages. From what I understand he’s waiting at his home in the U.S. for some team to call him up and offer him a place in their roster, a possibility that becomes slimmer the closer we get to opening day. Matsui’s a nice guy and has always cooperated with the Japanese media (certainly more so than Ichiro), so the only conceivable reason for the absence of Matsui-related news is that reporters don’t want to embarrass him. Though last week’s visit to Japan of the Seattle Mariners and the Athletics to open the MLB season officially was a huge p.r. success for everyone involved, one couldn’t help but think of Matsui. I don’t have any proof, but I’m pretty sure that when the deal was made to bring those two particular teams to Japan, they were chosen because they contained the two most famous active Japanese players in the majors (the two teams played each other for opening day 2011–does that normally happen two years in a row?); but since that deal was made the Athletics cut Matsui loose, which, of course, is their prerogative. I’m sure it was the dream of the Japanese side of the deal to see Matsui bat against his old team, the Giants. I wonder what his old boss, Tsuneo Watanabe, thought about this development. He’s not the kind of man who tends to stay silent when he doesn’t get his way, but this was something that was totally beyond his control.