True baseball junkies in the United States woke up early Tuesday morning to catch what promised to be one of the real heavyweight contests of the World Baseball Classic: Cuba vs. Japan, live from the Tokyo Dome. Those early risers weren't treated to a close game, but they got a healthy helping of offense and delightful Japanese baseball culture.
Already leading 3-1 in the bottom of the fifth, Team Japan third baseman Nobuhiro Matsuda annihilated a hanging breaking ball deep into the left-field bleachers, sending the home crowd into ecstasy. After rounding the bases and greeting his teammates on the front steps of the dugout, Matsuda gave the fans a massive fist pump and led a full-throated cheer.
Taters are nothing new for the 33-year-old Matsuda, who hit 27 last season for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks. He had been struggling at the plate recently, according to the MLB Network broadcasters, so this must have felt pretty damn good.
Japanese baseball is fun: the fans sing and bang drums, and—hold on to your butts—the players are allowed to show emotion. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred keeps tinkering to try to make the American game more interesting; perhaps he should study this highlight.