Hirokazu Ibata acknowledges the crowd's cheers after hitting a game-tying… (Koji Sasahara / Associated…)
This just in: Baseball -- especially the World Baseball Classic -- is very popular in Japan.
Repeat: very popular.
Major League Baseball just announced that one-third of all televisions in Japan -- the ones that were turned on -- were tuned in to Japan's three first-round games in Fukuoka, Japan.
That's more than any broadcast of the 2012 Summer Olympics or any other non-World Cup sporting event in the past year.
Japan has three of its first four games in seeking its third consecutive WBC championship. Its opener against Brazil, a 5-3 victory, drew 35% of viewers. Japan's next two first-round games, a win over China and a loss against Cuba, drew a 30% share.
The game against Cuba might have drawn more had both teams not already qualified for second-round action.
Japan opened second-round action Friday by defeating Chinese Taipei, 4-3, in 10 innings at the Tokyo Dome. In the other second-round game there, the Netherlands defeated Cuba, 6-2.
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