One of the most cynical sports movies ever made. Baseball is the metaphor for imported American capitalism in post-war Japan. Professional sports, much like "capitalist democracy" is legally sanctioned human trafficking. The irony here is that the trafficked "product" is one of the worst predators.
Everyone in this film assumes everyone else is lying and acts accordingly. The, almost optimistic in its way, ending affirms that sometimes someone really is suffering without manipulative affectation. Illness and death are real and seem like the most affirmational forces in the movie. Maybe, just maybe, suffering can even inspire actual love and tenderness even in the age of capitalism.