In Praise of Kenshin Sugawara

Dan Gartland of Sports Illustrated:
     “The Japanese high school baseball championships (known colloquially as Koshien, after the stadium where they take place) are unlike anything in sports on this side of the Pacific. Crowds pack the nearly 50,000 seats in the stadium and people watch on national TV as 56 teams from around the country compete over the course of 15 days to be crowned champs. Daisuke Matsuzaka once threw a 17-inning complete game, because the tournament is such a big deal.
    The stakes are incredibly high. The vast majority of these kids will never have an athletic moment as important as this. And yet, one player in a game on Sunday passed up a free base. Kennobu Sugawara from Tokuei Hanasaki was hit by a pitch in the seventh inning of his team’s game against Akashi Shoten. But rather than take first base, he admitted that he leaned in to the pitch. Sugawara bowed to the pitcher, then to the opponents’ dugout, and stepped back in the box. Then he blasted a homer.” 

For the life of me, I don’t see any leaning, it looks like he just maintains his stance. Regardless, big props for refusing the free base and then going deep.