NPB - Giants lead seems unstoppable -- Sep 12
The Yomiuri Giants are running away with the Central League and are the clear-cut favorites to repeat as Central League champs.

At 40-22 the Giants have an eight-game lead over their nearest rivals, the Yokohama DeNA BayStars, in this truncated 120-game season and have won eight of their last 10 games despite a grueling schedule. And let’s not forget, the Central League is not holding a playoff round this year and will send the regular-season champion directly into the Japan Series against whoever emerges from the Pacific League.

And is there a better pitcher in the NPB than the Giants’ Tomoyuki Sugano? The man has been virtually unhittable since the season began as evidenced by his 9-0 record and 1.57 ERA in 11 starts, including three complete games. He is the ace of the best team in either league and there could very well be an MVP Trophy waiting for him to put on the mantle when this season is through.

Saturday Schedule & Predictions

Below is a look ahead to this coming Saturday, September 12th, where we can see the entire slate of NPB games. In addition, it should be known that SBR is providing picks for the games and information on the right bookies to place your wagers, for those who like to make money while enjoying NPB action.

1:00 AM ET

Hiroshima Carp vs. Hanshin Tigers at Koshien Stadium, Nishinomiya, Japan – Bet Hanshin

1:00 AM ET

Nippon-Ham Fighters vs. Tohoku Rakuten at Miyagi Baseball Stadium, Sendai, Japan – Bet Tohoku

4:00 AM ET

Chunichi Dragons vs. Yokohama BayStars at Yokohama Stadium, Yokohama, Japan – Bet Chunichi

4:00 AM ET

Orix Buffaloes vs. Chiba Lotte Marines at Chiba Marine Stadium, Chiba City, Japan – Bet Orix

5:00 AM ET

Tokyo Yakult Swallows vs. Yomiuri Giants at Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan – Bet Yomiuri

5:00 AM ET

Saitama Seibu Lions vs. Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks at Fukuoka Dome, Fukuoka, Japan – Bet Fukoka

Restrictions Relaxed?

Nippon Professional Baseball and the J. League will ask the government to relax restrictions on attendance at their respective games due to the decreasing cases of COVID-19 in Japan.

“We have heard the view of our medical panel that the infection rate has settled down nationwide,” said NPB Commissioner Atsushi Saito in an online news conference after the 15th meeting of the leagues’ joint task force.

“Right now, we are allowing up to 5,000 fans into stadiums, but we would like to think about the next steps,” he continued. “We’ve agreed with (J. League) Chairman (Mitsuru) Murai that we will present our request, to relax the limit, to the government as soon as tomorrow.”

The number of fans has been set at 5000 at many venues but the argument the leagues are advancing is that the number of fans should be predicated on each individual stadium’s seating capacity. Therefore, a venue like Nissan Stadium, which holds up to 70,000 fans, should be eligible to hold many more people and that figure should be a percentage rather than a hard and fast number. If the seating capacity of venues was set at 30 percent to ensure social distancing then Nissan Stadium could welcome 21,000 fans, and give the teams the revenue boost they so desperately need.

Mitsuo Kaku, an infectious disease specialist who leads a team of experts, believes the time is right to talk about relaxing the restrictions on patrons entering large gatherings as long as medical protocols are followed, as well as social distancing.

“You have to have social distancing, so it’s not possible to fill the stadiums,” Kaku said. “But based on the condition that you make sure you have social distancing and follow other measures for the virus, I think the number of people who can be allowed in, or a set percentage, should be calculated.”

The plans they put in place now will undoubtedly have a bearing on how Japan goes forward with the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, both of which were postponed due to the global pandemic but are set to begin on July 23, 2021, and end on August 8th, 2021.

“I think that NPB and the J. League have become a model (for Japan) toward next year’s Olympics and Paralympics,” said Hiroshige Mikamo, another infectious disease expert on the panel. “I think it’s a fact that other sports organizations have run their leagues following what these two leagues have done.”

“We’re going to continue to add what needs to be added to the guidelines, and improve them,” Mikamo added. “And then I think the league operations will go more smoothly, and that will aid the Olympics and Paralympics.”

News source:
Oct 28
A center for coronavirus prevention will be in operation during the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics next summer. (NHK)
Oct 26
Top-favorite Contrail became Japanese racing's third undefeated triple crown winner Sunday, following in the footsteps of his sire, Deep Impact, by capturing the 81st running of the Kikka-sho, the last of the season's classic races. (Kyodo)
Oct 25
A ceremony was held on Saturday to mark the completion of the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, which will host swimming competitions in next year's Olympic and Paralympic Games. (NHK)
Oct 24
Japan's Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide says the utmost effort is necessary to prevent coronavirus infections and fend off cyberattacks ahead of next year's rescheduled Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. (NHK)
Oct 22
Organizers of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, rescheduled for next year, have tested ways to carry out safety checks on spectators entering the venues of events. (NHK)
Oct 22
Japan has a rich sporting culture characterized by both traditional and modern games. (
Oct 17
Yokohama Stadium will hold three baseball games at around 80% capacity later this month as Japan looks to test its COVID-19 countermeasures at big events ahead of the rearranged Tokyo Olympics next year. (Reuters)
Oct 17
Japan's first professional women's soccer league, the WE League, announced Thursday the 11 founding clubs selected to take part in its inaugural season starting next September. (Japan Today)
Oct 16
The government will test measures for preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus at events with large numbers of spectators in a trial late this month in a nearly-packed baseball stadium in Yokohama, officials said Thursday. (Japan Times)
Oct 15
A strong 13-2 title winning performance in the September tournament was enough to convince the Japan Sumo Association’s judging department to make Shodai the sport’s 251st ozeki. (Japan Times)
Oct 15
The Japanese Olympic Committee will move to protect female athletes from having nonconsensual photographs of a sexual nature snapped while they compete, an important step forward for the country as it seeks to create solidarity with and among victims of sexual abuse. (Japan Times)
Oct 14
Modern technology keeps evolving, spreading its tentacles and roping in all sectors, one by one. (
Oct 13
A total of 26 players of the men's volleyball team at Nihon University have contracted the novel coronavirus but none are showing serious symptoms, sources close to the matter said Monday. (Kyodo)
Oct 08
NHK has learned that the organizers of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics are expecting to slash a total of more than 190 million dollars in costs for the Games. (NHK)
Oct 08
Next year's Tokyo Marathon will be rescheduled from March to the fall due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, sources said Wednesday. (Japan Times)
Oct 07
The Lotte Marines announced Tuesday a total 11 top-team players and staff have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, but the club's Pacific League game against the Orix Buffaloes went ahead as planned. (Japan Today)
Oct 07
The IOC and local organizers are trying to “simplify” the postponed Tokyo Olympics, promising to save money in what one study says is already the most expensive Summer Olympics on record. (Japan Today)
Oct 07
Over the past few years, there have been increased suggestions that Formula One could host a street race in Japan by 2025. Hirofumi Yoshimura – the current major of Osaka – has stated his desire for Yumeshima Island to host the country’s first-ever street-orientated Grand Prix. (
Oct 07
As regulated gambling spreads across other parts of Asia, attention always returns to Japan. There have been strong laws controlling gambling here for years, and it seems like this is one area that lawmakers will not return to any time soon. Let's take a closer look at the current status of gambling here as it currently stands. (
Oct 06
Nippon Professional Baseball and the J. League will explore the possibility of raising the current caps on attendance, a process that will include consultations with an epidemiologist, among others, the two leagues announced following the latest meeting of their joint COVID-19 task force on Monday. (Japan Times)