Following the money

Heard of the house that Ruth built? This is the scoreboard that Darvish built.
Heard of the house that Ruth built? This is the scoreboard that Darvish built.

This photo is the answer to the question a listener to the Japan Baseball Weekly Podcast asked last year: What did the Nippon Ham Fighters do with the $50 million posting fee they received for Yu Darvish.

According to Fighters chief executive Toshimasa Shimada, the answer is this scoreboard at the Fighters’ minor league facility in Kamagaya, Chiba Prefecture.

Another Giants pitcher done for gambling

It’s not that surprising that another Japanese player admitted to betting on baseball on Tuesday, since the Yomiuri Giants’ investigation last November consisted of asking everyone with the club whether or not they gambled.

Prior to Feb. 29, the team had declared the investigation done. That day the club received a call from weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun, asking about details of Takagi’s involvement. Takagi’s name had not come up originally. He said he quit after losing roughly $7,000 in 2014 in bets on pro baseball games through the operator of a pub known only as “B-san.” Takagi, did however, introduce teammate Shoki Kasahara to B-san, and Kasahara introuduced to other minor league teammates.
The news broke after a gambler called the Giants in October and demanded the team pay one of the pitcher’s illegal gambling debts.

According to the Giants, Takagi said B-san visited him during autumn minicamp with an unkown man who promised to make sure the pitcher’s name would not come up in NPB’s investigation — if the pitcher were to give him a “souvenir.” Takagi said he rebuffed the offer of help.

The team said it was continuing to investigate although repeatedly said it was difficult since B-san failed to take their repeated calls. This is probably not the end of the trail since it is unlikely Takagi made the gambling connection without an introduction from someone he trusted in baseball.

On the announcement of Takagi’s involvement, Tsuneo Watanabe, the most powerful figure in Japanese baseball, resigned again. 11-1/2 years earlier, Watanabe — then the titular owner of the Central League club — joined several other owners in quitting after it was revealed their teams had been paying university pitcher Yasuhiro Ichiba.

Within a year, Watanabe officially returned as the team’s supreme advisor. Although Watanabe’s dominance of Nippon Professional Baseball policy has slipped due to the rise of the rival Pacific League, as long as Watanabe remains alive, NPB as a whole will be unable to move forward as a whole in joint licensing and marketing ventures.

Since Watanabe has remained in charge despite having no official status within NPB since quitting as owner, his resignation as special advisor means nothing.

writing & research on Japanese baseball