I think it’s probably official at this point – Diamond no Ace has pissed me off more than any other show I’ve watched for this long. And I don’t man mild irritation, I mean really genuinely pissed off. It’s almost become cyclical at this point – most eps are solidly good, you’ll get a run of really great ones, and then a couple like this that are as welcome as a line drive to the nuts.
Is it a coincidence that most of those eps are so annoying because of the same two characters? No, obviously not. Furuya simply isn’t a capable of carrying the series – he’s just not that interesting, and for me at least impossible to root for. He never grows, either – unless you count growing more unlikeable. And Kataoka is always good for something senseless and head-desk worthy – every time he lulls you into thinking he’s improved, he breaks out the idiot stick again, I’ll tell you truthfully – I would welcome Kataoka leaving and Ochiai taking over as official coach at this point. For all his flaws, at least interesting things tend to happen when he’s involved.
This ep, then, was pretty much a perfect storm of mediocrity. Furuya at its center, Kataoka being Kataoka, an uninteresting opponent who has no chance to win the game. But what really sets it over the top are that we’ve seen the same dumb mistakes repeated here. Furuya pitching hurt, Kataoka allowing it to happen. I hate this trope that playing hurt is heroic, because it’s actually selfish – you’re mostly likely hurting the team. And for the record, for all Kataoka’s posturing as a manager who thinks of the kids, letting a guy pitch with a bum ankle is negligent and irresponsible. Pitchers who pitch with leg injuries almost always end up hurting their arm in the process because their mechanics are screwed up. How could any adult allow a 16 year-old boy to do that?
As if all that weren’t enough, Kataoka strongly implied that Furuya is going to start the final – or at least that was the plan. Really? It’s horrid on every level – starting a kid on consecutive days is reckless, much less when you have a guy who’s arguably pitching better. And dramatically speaking just as bad because, come on – who the hell wants to see Furuya pitch the final game of the season? If he does start the Yakushi game that will mark a low ebb in Daiya no A for me – and despite how much I like this series and all of the high points it’s had, there have already been some pretty low ebbs.