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JAPANESE BASEBALL

Baseball has been played in Japan for over 100 years, and professionally since 1935. The Central and the Pacific are the two pro leagues in Japan. Each has six teams.

A translated version of the US major league rulebook is used, with one difference: The Japanese strike zone is wider on each side of the plate by the width of one baseball.

Major corporations own most teams. The Taiyo Whales are owned by a fish company; the Hanshin Tigers by a private railway company; the Yomiuri Giants by a newspaper; the Nippon Ham Fighters by a pork producer; the Yakult Swallows by a health-food firm.

Ties are allowed. No extra inning may begin after 12 innings or four hours of play. Therefore, the Kintetsu Buffaloes lost the 1988 pennant to the Seibu Lions by a margin of .002 percentage points.

(Source: Robert Whiting's ``You Gotta Have Wa'')

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