Tag Archives: Shohei Ohtani

What is going on in Japan?

This is the text of a speech I gave in March to the Japan American Society of Chicago, entitled: “What Japanese Baseball Brings to the World.”

Last winter’s record MLB contracts to Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto have brought fans of America’s two major leagues into contact with the idea that Japan’s two major leagues can produce some of the best baseball players in the world.

Although this is not a new idea, Ohtani’s $700 million deal, the most valuable contract in the history of team sports, and Yamamoto’s $325 million, the most valuable ever given to a pitcher, have validated the talk of Japanese players’ prowess in ways that even the World Baseball Classic and scouting reports haven’t.

In the language Americans understand, that of concrete dollars and cents, these contracts have spelled out how valuable players coming out of a radically different pro baseball context can be, and force people to ask, “what the heck is going on over there?”

That difference between Japan’s and America’s baseball worlds and the value it creates for baseball around the world is the focus of today’s talk, because if Japanese baseball did not exist, or if the relationship between MLB and Japan were different, there would be no Shohei Ohtani in the sense that we know him now as perhaps the best human to ever play the game.

Continue reading What is going on in Japan?

What the G.O.A.T. is not saying

In Hokkaido, where Shohei Ohtani got his start in pro baseball, a staple of every Fighters game’s entertainment is the Fighters Girls dancing to “What Does the Fox Say?” Ironically, this year’s big conundrum involves what Ohtani, arguably the GOAT – or greatest of all time – is saying, or more specifically, is not saying, about his former interpreter and payments of millions of dollars to an illegal bookmaker.

Somewhere, there are truths behind the accusations that have swirled around Ohtani’s longtime former interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, and these truths, if revealed, will lead to either embarrassment or criminal liability for Ohtani.

Continue reading What the G.O.A.T. is not saying