(picture courtesy of MBS live feed)
With Osaka Touin winning the title and surprisingly the first in 5 years, there is time for final thoughts as the teams go through the final ceremony.
This year, more than any I can remember (maybe with the exception of 2006 Natsu Koushien), boiled down to pitching.
First is something that had already been known, but now is readily more apparent. Kantoku’s (at least the smart ones) are not relying on just the ace anymore. You are seeing teams that are not just carrying pitchers by name and only when things go bad, but switching to them before they do. You also saw cases where the kantoku actually benched an ace specifically to prevent overwork.
That’s great, pitchers won’t be taxed as much as they have in prior years. They’ll still go 140 pitchers or something like that when they start though.
What you’re also seeing are more teams carrying more than once ace. If you’re going to carry more pitchers that you plan on using, why not get the best?
This means that there could be a greater separation between the powerhouse teams that can pull in players, and the rest of the field. Yes, there were cases like Fukuokadai Oohori’s Miura where an ace could still carry a team, but as you saw it just takes something unexpected and things can be derailed. As time goes on, I would not be surprised to see the number of teams making Koushien decreasing as more and more teams fall behind.
It’s sad because it continues to move away from the narrative that any team can get to Koushien, and that any team can win, and that saddens me.
Yeah, the idea isn’t realistic, but the dream should still be there, should still be realistic. It’s already bad enough that I’ve seen too many games in the prefectural finals where an underdog loses a lead late to a known power because of course they’re supposed to do that.
I’ll probably have articles to write similar to the ones I wrote earlier detailing how much of the field actually goes and wins at Koushien to highlight those points, because they’re becoming more and more relevant now I think.