As you probably already know, Samurai Japan won the Olympic Gold Medal for baseball yesterday by defeating Team USA in a nail-biter of a ballgame 2-0. Munetaka Murakami hit a solo home run in the bottom of the third and his Swallows teammate Tetsuto Yamada scored an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth to account for all the runs while five pitchers - Masato Morishita, Kodai Senga, Hiromi Itoh, Suguru Iwazaki and Ryoji Kuribayashi - combined to shutout the US, striking out eight batters while holding the US to six hits. Yamada was named MVP of the tournament.
Atsunori Inaba was hired as the head coach of Samurai just over four years ago with the goal of winning the 2019 Premier 12, the 2020 Olympic Gold Medal and the 2021 World Baseball Classic. He's succeeded with the first two goals but with the ongoing pandemic it's not clear yet when the next WBC is going to be played. Whenever it is, however, Inaba won't be coaching the Japanese team - he apparently announced this weekend that he's retiring as head coach. There's a rumor that he's in line to be the next manager of the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters should they finally part ways with Hideki Kuriyama after ten years (Kuriyama is currently the longest tenured manager in NPB).
Here are cards of Murakami, Yamada and Inaba from some of Calbee's Samurai Japan sets from the past couple years:
|2019 Calbee Samurai Japan #SJ-33 (Murakami)|
|2017 Calbee Samuri Japan #SJ-29|
|2020 Calbee Samurai Japan #01 (Inaba)|