Lesson : The 2020 Olympics - Japan vs. USA Baseball


Well, the 2020 Olympics have come to a close.  I think many people throughout the world enjoyed the games immensely, while others derided them.  Remember before the games started how many people in Japan thought that they should have been canceled?  I have to assume that many of those same people had since watched some of their favorite sports competitions on TV, and changed their minds about the Olympics midstream.

In Japan, much attention was paid to their rivalry with the United States.  Although there were other compelling head to head matchups between Japan and the US, most notably in softball and women's basketball, this game was keenly watched by the host nation because Japan had never won the gold in Olympic baseball before.  And, considering that baseball is America's "national pastime", the pride of the USA was at stake too.

Team USA was a collection of minor leaguers and former Major League Baseball players.  Some of those with Major League experience were All Stars at one time or another.  A few of the players now play for Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) teams.  MLB did not allow their players to participate in the Olympics during its regular season, so Japan had a distinct advantage.  

Conversely, Team Japan was loaded with All Stars from its own major leagues.  Unlike MLB, NPB took a one month break in their schedule to allow its players to participate in the Olympics.  

The two teams had just played five days earlier in a group play match.  Team Japan came away with the win in a close game.  Perhaps that victory would give them confidence in the gold medal game.

The rematch for the gold was a close affair too. Team USA batted first, and hit three balls right on the nose, but they were loud outs.  Serendipitously, the Team Japan's fielders were in the right place each time to make each play.  

Japan did not fare much better until the fourth inning, when Munetaka Murakami, 21, the youngest player in Japan's starting lineup, drove the ball to the opposite field over the 16-foot wall in left-center.  Martinez grimaced as it landed in the fourth row of the empty blue bleachers.

Japan scored an unearned run in the eighth inning. Masataka Yoshida singled off U.S. reliever Scott McGough and center fielder Jack López committed a horrendous throwing error that allowed Tetsuto Yamada to score.

As it turned out, the extra insurance run was not needed, as Japan's pitching—Masato Morishita, Koudai Senga, Hiromi Itoh and Suguru Iwazaki—combined for a shutout.

Morishita held the U.S. to three hits over five innings, struck out five and walked none. 

Team USA's starting pitcher, Nick Martinez, who plays for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, allowed a home run and five of Japan's six hits, striking out seven through six innings.

After the last out, Team Japan celebrated their 2-0 victory on the field, and the sparse crowd of volunteers and groundskeepers gave them a nice ovation.

Vocabulary Flash Card Drill

deride     嘲笑(ちょうしょう)する
  • The movie was widely derided by critics as being historically inaccurate.  
  • この映画は、歴史的に不正確であるとして批評家から広く嘲笑されました。
shutout     完封(かんぷう)
  • Walter Johnson is the MLB all-time leader in shutouts with 110. Johnson also holds the record for being the only pitcher to throw more than 100 shutouts.  
  • ウォルター・ジョンソンは、110回の完封を記録しMLB史上最高のリーダーです。ジョンソンはまた、100回以上の完封を投げた唯一の投手であるという記録を保持しています。
ovation     拍手(はくしゅ)喝采(かっさい)
  • The winner of the gold medal received a standing ovation from the crowd.  
  • 金メダルの勝者は、群衆からスタンディングオベーションを受けました。
serendipitously     偶然(ぐうぜん)
  • It turned out that my first day in Japan, entirely serendipitously, had coincided with start of many Obon festivals.  
  • 私の日本での初日は、まったく偶然にも、多くのお盆祭りの始まりと一致していました。
midstream     途中(とちゅう)
  • The famous actor was replaced midstream, which had a profound effect on the storyline.  
  • その有名な俳優は途中で置き換えられ、ストーリーに大きな影響を与えました。
compelling     説得(せっとく)(りょく)のある
  • His compelling argument persuaded the jury to return a verdict of innocent.  
  • 彼の説得力のある議論は陪審員に無実の評決を行うようにに説得した。
horrendous     (おそ)ろしい
  • The immigrants were subjected to horrendous conditions on their way to the United States.  
  • 移民は米国に向かう途中で恐ろしい状況にさらされました。
grimace     しかめっ(つら)をする
  • The old man grimaced when the nurse gave him his vaccine injection.  
  • 看護師が彼にワクチン注射をしたとき、老人はしかめっ面をした。
rivalry     競争(きょうそう)
  • The football rivalry between Oklahoma and Texas goes back many decades.  
  • オクラホマとテキサスの間のフットボールの競争は何十年も前にさかのぼります。
keenly     熱心(ねっしん)(するど)
  • The president was keenly aware of the risks in deploying soldiers to that region of the world.  
  • 大統領は、世界のその地域に兵士を配備することのリスクを鋭く感じていました。
immensely     非常(ひじょう)
  • The captain of the football team is immensely popular with the cheerleaders.  
  • サッカーチームのキャプテンはチアリーダーに非常な人気を誇っています。