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二宮清純「ノンフィクション・シアター・傑作選」 : 巨人・松井秀喜の、“進化する怪物”<後編>
投稿日時: 2008-04-11 12:53:00

 そして今年、最も変わったと思われる点はレベルスイングの時間が長くなったということである。ダウンスイングでボールをとらえにいき、レベルの部分でボールに力を伝え、最後、アッパースイングでボールを運び去る――これがバッティングの基本だが、今の松井はこのレベルスイングでの時間が際立って長く感じられるのである。

 そこで思い出されるのが、掛布雅之氏の松井評だ。ルーキーの年、松井は高卒選手としては破格の11本塁打を記録したが、もろさと荒さも同居していた。そんな松井を見ながら掛布氏は私にこう言った。

「現在の松井のスイングは、かたちでいえば“V”です。ダウンでバットが入り、ひとつのポイントつまり“V”字の底の点でボールをとらえ、それをアップで持っていく。豪快な反面、もろさも合わせ持っています。
 これはこれで松井の立派な魅力ですが、欲をいえば“V”の底を広くしたい。アルファベットでいえば“U”、つまり台形を逆さにしたようなかたちが望ましい。そうすればもっとホームランの数は増えます。
 なぜかといえば、その方がボールと勝負する時間が長くなるからです。バットの軌道が台形の逆さの状態である時、つまりレベルスイングの状態ですが、この間にボールを潰し、押し込むことができるんですね。

 王さんのホームラン写真を見てください。ボールがバットにくっついている時間がやたらと長いでしょう。ボールを潰すことによって、その反発力を最大限利用しているんです。
 王さんの若い頃のスイングは、研ぎ澄まされた“V”ですが、ホームランを量産していくにつれ、逆台形の底の線が長くなっている。点ではなく線で勝負している証左です」
 今、掛布氏に松井のバッティングについて訊ねたら、おそらく“逆台形打法”はほぼ完成されたと口にするはずである。

 苦手をカモにかえるのも松井の特長である。
 かつて松井は、スワローズのサウスポー石井一久を大の苦手にしていた。
 94年 17打数3安打 1割7分6厘、本塁打0
 95年 14打数1安打 7分1厘、本塁打0
 96年 6打数2安打 3割3分3厘、本塁打0
 97年 15打数3安打 2割、本塁打2
 98年 17打数3安打 1割7分6厘、本塁打1
 99年 13打数0安打 本塁打0
 ここまではまあカモられっぱなしである。

 ところが昨年、松井と石井の力関係は完全に逆転する。
 2000年 19打数6安打 3割1分6厘、本塁打1
 ルーキーの年のオープン戦、松井は石井の投じたカーブに尻餅をついてよけた。頭の付近を通過して曲がり落ちたカーブはストライクゾーンにおさまったが、松井は対処する術すら持たなかった。

 いくら怪物の名をほしいままにした大物ルーキーとはいえ、高校野球で石井のようなカーブを持つピッチャーはいない。松井にすれば、ボールがヘルメット付近を通過した時点で一度、視界から消えたはずだ。バッターにとってピッチャーが投じたボールが視界から消えることほど恐ろしいことはない。
 このカーブは松井にプロとアマのレベルの差を痛感させたばかりではなく、トラウマとなってルーキーの心を支配し続けた。
 松井は傷つき、一方の石井はさらに自信を深める。この時点で生じた力関係が逆転するのに実に8年もの時間が費やされたわけである。

 進化する怪物――。
 ずっと以前から、私が抱き続けている松井のイメージだ。
 パワーと飛距離はルーキーの時からズバ抜けていた。しかし、技術がそれにともなわなかった。
 往々にして豪快さが売り物のパワーヒッターの場合――たとえばドラゴンズの大豊泰昭がその典型だが――自らの飛距離に酔いしれるあまり、新境地を開拓しようとしない。「なぜ理想の打球を打てないのか?」と悩むことはあっても、「なぜこのコースは打てないのか?」とは、あまり悩まないのだ。

 ところが松井の場合、どの球種もどのコースも打ち方次第ではホームランが打てるのではないか、と年々、自らのホームランゾーンを拡大している。
 広角といえば、3000本安打を記録した張本勲の代名詞であり、日本新記録となる7年連続首位打者をイチローが獲得した時点で、その真髄を究めた印象があるが、松井は広角ホームランをも、“机上の空論”から“地上の正論”にしようとしている。

 なぜ、ボール球を打ってはいけないのか。それは自らのフォームを崩す恐れがあるからであり、そうでないのなら、一向に打っても構わない。まして、それをホームランにできる技術と自信があるのなら、指をくわえて見逃す手はない。
 これまでの野球のセオリーが、ことごとく松井には通用しなくなってきている。“進化する怪物”たる所以である。

(おわり)

<この原稿は1999年10月発行『1ミリの大河』(マガジンハウス)に掲載されたものです>


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