Perhaps it was a slow news week, because Sunday’s headlines were filled with people giving opinions worth two yen on the meaning of Tomoyuki Sugano’s return to Japan rather than sign the contract that would have moved him closer to achieving his goal of pitching in the majors.
On Jan. 14, Sugano signed a contract reportedly worth a little less than $8 million a year and it is said that incentives could bring it’s total value close to $10 million.
Since before Sugano’s posting-system deadline, people have been telling me that if you want to go, you go, no “ifs”, “ands” or “buts.” But at this online press conferences on Jan. 10 and again on Jan. 14, the normally ultra-poised Sugano was said to have gotten frosty at some of the questions.
I’ve heard from people who tell me Sugano is crazy to think next year he’ll be in a better situation, and who laugh at any suggestion that his principle motivation for coming back was money.
Blowhard and hard ass former manager Tatsuro Hirooka expressed satisfaction that Sugano had turned down offers from MLB teams that look down on Japanese talent. In December, if anyone doubted Hirooka’s serious old fart credentials, he proved them by saying Sugano lacks sufficient love for the Giants — as proved by his request to be posted.
Perhaps I’m no different. I, too, see Sugano’s decision as a symbol for something bigger, his right to choose. A lot of players have had spectacular fulfilling careers in Japan. For all its faults and flaws, it is still a wonderful place to live and work.
To see Sugano’s decision as symbolic of a failure on his part or of Japan’s superiority is ludicrous. We don’t all make the right decisions, I certainly don’t. But who the heck are we to say we know what is best for Sugano and then ridicule him for making up his own mind?
I don’t pretend to know what would be best for his life and for his personal happiness, growth, health and satisfaction, so I’ll share what he said on the 14th:
“Some are of the opinion that if you go over via the posting system, you should take what you are offered. The decision is mine, because it’s my life.”–Tomoyuki Sugano
I would have loved to see how well Sugano would have done, but I think he knows a hell of a lot more about what is in his best interest than I do.