Tag:Motohiro Shima
Posted on: April 29, 2011 6:52 pm

Baseball returns to Sendai

By C. Trent Rosecrans

I would have liked to get up early today and watched the big event on TV live, but I didn't. I'm sure I would have cried.

Nope, not that silly inbred wedding. No, baseball. Real live baseball in Sendai, Japan, site of the deadly earthquake and tsunami last month.

The Rakuten Eagles played their first home game on Friday, beating the Orix Buffaloes 3-1 in front of 20,613 at Kleenex Stadium.

Eagles starter Mashahiro Tanaka played Joe Namath and Mike Piazza in one -- promising a victory on Thursday and coming through on Friday. Tanaka allowed a run on six hits and in a complete-game victory over former big leaguer Chan Ho Park.

"Having all those people in the stands moved me," Tanaka said, according to Jim Allen of the Daily Yomiuri. "Pitching in this atmosphere, I felt the joy of being a ballplayer."

The Eagles started the season 8-6 and just a game out of first in the Pacific League, despite playing no games at their home stadium.

Before the game, Eagles catcher Motohiro Shima made a speech to the crowd. YakyuBaka.com's Gen translated the speech.

After the disaster, the players waited until the day we could return to Tohoku by talking about what we could do, what we should do.  Then 5 days before the start of the regular season, we all returned to Sendai.

While burning the images of the vastly changed Tohoku region into our eyes and spirits, we visited relief shelters and apologized for taking so long to return.  And when everyone greeted us with open arms and told us not to quit because they weren't going to quit, it made me cry.  That's when it became clear why we had to play [baseball].

We learned something [important] over the last month and a half.  We learned that people who have something to fight for are strong.

The people of Tohoku, let's get through this.  Now, this time right here.  We're going to beat this, no matter what.  If we can get over this now and get to the other side, I'm sure we'll be greeted by even stronger versions of ourselves and a much brighter future.  Let's show everyone how strong Tohoku is!

You can read the rest at YakyuBaka.com. It's a reminder of the best of baseball -- just like when baseball returned after Sept. 11. Baseball, and sport, have the power to bring people together after tragedy. It's good to see at least one thing -- baseball -- is back to normal in Sendai.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com