Fans cheer for Ichiro Suzuki #51 of the Seattle Mariners during MLB match against the Oakland Athletics at Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Koji Watanabe/Getty Images)
Uh-oh. This doesn't sound like good news.
With the third World Baseball Classic scheduled for next spring, it seems that Japan's participation is far from assured. As Jason Coskrey writes in the Japan Times tomorrow, the Japanese players' union has voted against playing in the WBC. Unanimously:
In what was called a "heartbreaking" decision by union head and Hanshin Tigers star Takahiro Arai, all 24 player representatives (two per team) voted against participating in the tournament, which is slated to be held in 2013. Japan won the previous two editions of the WBC in 2006 and 2009.
Compensation is at the root of the problem.
Last year, the union requested a bigger cut of tournament revenue and merchandising and sponsorship rights for the Japan national team.
The request, which at the time was supported by NPB, was turned down.
In 2009, NPB reportedly received a sizable percentage of WBC revenue and the NPB players probably took home more on average than MLB players.
Well, that's a kick in the pants. And now they want more?
No, we shouldn't cast stones. Not from this distance. Also, the Japanese players have the leverage of winners, as they've won both World Baseball Classics that have been played so far.
The next WBC is still roughly eight months away, so there's presumably plenty of time left to fix this thing. Or so we may hope, since it just won't be the same without the defending champions.