Japanese Major League Baseball customs

Yesterday was all Ichiro, all the time in Seattle due to him being inducted in the Mariners Hall of Fame.

Anyway, they replayed his last game, which was against Oakland, but played in Tokyo at the start of the 2019 season. The announcers mentioned that in the Japanese league, games can end in a tie and they don’t have extra innings. Also, they bunt a lot more than they do in the MLB

It got me wondering, what else is different in Japanese baseball?

Do they have the 7th inning stretch?
Do they boo when the pitcher throws the first?
Do they play the national anthem?
Are games mostly at night, or are there more day games?
Grass or artificial turf?
How many games in a season?
what’s their playoff structure like? I assume they have their equivalent to the World Series.

Generally, I’m wondering what customs or rules would we notice are different?

Wikipedia has a pretty good breakdown.

— 143 game season
— Most stadiums use turf
— NPB uses a similar wild card round-league championship-Japan Series format that MLB does

I attended a Yomiuri Giants night game 22 years ago. What I remember:

-Gleaming clean stadium with turf

-Enthusiastic organized fan cheering. We were near the Yokohama visiting team cheering section and they’d brought bullhorns, noisemakers, flags, a trumpet. It took us a while to realize that as each player came up to bat, they were greeted by name with individualized cheers. and tunes.
Yokohama had an American player, Bobby Rose, Bobby Rose (baseball) - Wikipedia, no relation to Pete, and their cheer for him sounded like Rosé, the wine.
Organized Japanese Baseball Cheers at the Sapporo Dome - YouTube

-The “beer girls”. After walking around in shorts for a day I realized there were very few adult women in the city in shorts; a friend who lives there told me later that shorts are beach wear or just for teens and younger. Then at the game we saw the perky beer girls, wearing shorts as their unform, walking up and down the steps with kegs on their backs. Here’s a story about them:
Japanese beer-vending girl refill teams have the speed and precision of an F-1 pit crew【Video】 | SoraNews24 -Japan News-

And a couple of good blogs about baseball in Japan:
My day with the Yomiuri Giants - May 25, 2019 – Steven On The Move
(This one says that they don’t play the national anthem)

Sarah Emery | SarahWithASmile | Expat lifestyle

I attended a Giants game at the Tokyo Dome 9 years ago and my memories are similar to yours. Besides the Beer Girls (See below), the most memorable thing was the designated sections for each team’s fans in the outfield bleachers and what happened to the ball if a player hit a home run into the seats of the opposing team’s fans: It was ALWAYS thrown back on the field in disgust.

One thing my husband remembered about baseball in Japan: the strict limit on the number of foreign players.
“Currently there is no limit to the number an organization can sign. However, only 4 foreign players are allowed on the 25-man game roster, with a maximum of 3 position players or 3 pitchers. There can not be 4 position players or 4 pitchers at one time. 3 position players and 1 pitcher, 1 position player and 3 pitchers, or 2 of each are all possible.”

This means a cap of 16% non-Japanese players. In contrast, MLB currently has 28% non-US players. I don’t know if there’s a MLB cap?

From ages ago, I remember fans of the losing team pretty much always showing an abnormal disgust with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Any momentos or club affiliation thrown off with distaste. Looked like a buncha toddlers that had their cookies taken away.

There is not.

Nippon Professional Baseball has that cap in order to limit their teams from widely competing for foreign players (and overspending on them); I would not be surprised if there is also a desire to keep the league primarily Japanese.

(FWIW, the Canadian Football League has a similar limit on non-Canadian players, for much the same reasons.)

They do have extra innings, just a limited number. A tie after 12 innings in the regular season, 15 in playoffs.

Are there rule differences that would make bunting more advantageous in Japan? Different player profiles? Or is one of the league being non-optimal in strategy?

While they certainly do bunt more, there are no rules differences suggesting a good reason to do that, so I’m not sure what it is. Other than that there’s not much difference in strategy, aside from their absolute dedication to six-man rotations.

Umpires in Japan don’t get much respect:

Incidentally, it’s possible for a foreign player to eventually count as, well, not foreign; a foreign player with a certain amount of service time counts as Japanese-born. Is it seven years? Eight. Something like that. A player really dedicated to playing there like Tuffy Rhodes or Alex Ramirez will end up not counting against the foreign player limit - which of course makes them suddenly much more valuable.

Not sure about rules, but the all-dirt infields must make bunts a different proposition.

Dave Barry wrote about attending a game in Japan. To paraphrase: “I bought a hot dog. Now I know what they do with the whales they catch.” (He also remarked about the sinus-searing mustard it came with.)

Wasn’t there a player from America on one of the teams who was routinely walked so he would not surpass some record of a player from Japan?

Thanks everyone. Good information. If I’m ever in Japan, I’ll try to catch a game.

And, what about the 7th inning stretch?

I think there is a short break in the 5th inning when everybody stretches and uses the restroom while the field is groomed. No stadium-wide sing-along like in our 7th inning stretch but the dedicated fan sections take turns doing that through the entire game.

I’m still sad my plans to catch a Swallows game at Meiji Jingu fell through. There’s that weird oddity of an outside stadium with artificial turf and I have gotten the impression that the Swallows are the equivalent of the Mets in Tokyo. So I’m also sad that they plan on demolishing it, especially with this bit of history.

I believe that was Tuffy Rhodes but the record has since been broken.

Also Randy Bass. In 1985, he had hit 54 home runs for the Hanshin Tigers, one short of legendary hitter Sadaharu Oh’s single-season record. When he faced the Yomiuri Giants in the season’s final series, their manager - Oh, himself - ordered his pitchers to intentionally walk Bass every time he came up.

I remember reading this years ago in Smithsonian magazine.

Here is a contemporary article about that