Japanese baseball managers, shame, and "kyoyu"

>> Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Wayne Graczyk, sportswriter for the English-language Japan Times, explains Yokohama BayStars manager Tatsuhiko Oya's decision to take a "kyuyo," beginning yesterday.

[W]hat is a kyuyo?

Well documented in Robert Whiting's 1977 book, "The Chrysanthemum and the Bat," a kyuyo is truly a Japanese concept, whereby a manager takes a rest with the theory being the team members are ashamed they played so poorly, their manager had to step aside.

The interim manager jumps in to revive the team and, if all goes according to plan, the players suck it up, perform much better, and the original manager returns from his "rest" period to lead the team and continue its winning ways — even as far as winning a championship — and everyone supposedly lives happily ever after.

It's an odd concept. In America, a Major League manager would just quit--or be fired. The idea of taking a break from the team until they can turn things around by themselves is an odd one. And what about the poor fellow hired as interim manager who turns the team around, and then has to give up his job when the old manager decides he's ready to return?

It does not always work out that way, of course, and often the manager never returns from his "rest." It is likely Oya is done as the Yokohama skipper and, if Tashiro does a halfway decent job over the remainder of the season, he may be retained for 2010. If not, the BayStars will just get somebody else.

Well, there's some justice in that, at least.

Read the full article here.


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