For the vast majority of the year, the Western baseball world completely disrespects and overlooks Nippon Professional Baseball. We do this simply by not caring about it at all, in any way shape or form.
It’s true, of course, that the talent pool in the major leagues is much deeper. But the resulting idea that Japanese baseball is unworthy of our attention is reductive at best and arrogant at worst. Besides, if you care to watch great baseball players play baseball – which Western fans theoretically do – it’s also completely self-defeating. Consider this for a moment: If you believe, as I do, that Shuhei Ohtani is the single best baseball player on earth (and perhaps the most talented baseball player ever), then we must also admit that as a logical consequence of that, in 2016 and 2017, he was The single best baseball player on earth Not He plays in the big leagues, but in Japan. Much the same is true (albeit on a scale slightly less than historical greatness) regarding Ichiro. Ichiro who set major league baseball on fire with Seattle Mariners In 2001 it was the exact same Ichiro who had been doing the exact same thing in Japan for several years before.
If, as a baseball fan, you enjoy watching Shohei Ohtani play, just as we all enjoyed watching Ichiro play, you should find joy in watching them play in Japan as well.
Baseball is unique among American sports with regard to this dynamic. There is no way he could ever be the best basketball or football player in the world Not He plays in North America. But it’s possible in baseball, and we’re better for it. It is the blessing of a foreign union with the economic power, tradition and infrastructure to produce planetary greatness. It’s a joy to be able to watch a game we love shaped and shaped by another culture, one that has just as much of a claim to its ownership as we do.
However, Market has spoken quite clearly regarding the Western view of Japanese baseball. We don’t watch it, we don’t follow it, and we don’t even know who the players are.
The only exception to this is when one of these players has expressed his intention to move to the major tournament. When this happens, we finally acknowledge that Japanese baseball exists and that it has at least some value. We do not value it on its own terms, of course, but merely because it benefits us and asserts our own superiority. Japanese baseball justifies its existence only to the extent that it serves us.
Hop on Twitter now and you’ll see this happening in regards to Kodai Senga of Fukoaka SoftBank Hawks. “There is Kodai Senga,” says a mets A Twitter account run by people who may not have heard of it a couple of months ago. “Kodai Senga almost makes too much sense,” Says a Cardinals fan, just last year, Japanese statistics are called an illusion. “I’m a Senga subscriber,” says ex-appointment based in Framingham red socks Backup player and current radio host you once He laughed at the idea Shohei Ohtani can be mentioned at the same time as Bo Jackson.
As Kodai Senga contemplates his future in baseball over the next few weeks, the internet will be overwhelmed by his capacity, and almost every one of those things will come from people who have never seen him play and who haven’t given their all. Nonsense about a month ago. You will get involved in this too, just by virtue of your internet presence and interest in the Red Sox. So here’s a starter collection of Kodai Senga clips. Consider it a public service – if you’re going to serve a Kodai Senga, you’ll probably at least know what it looks like.
We’ll start with a Pitching Ninja-style clip that showcases the amazing drop on the splitter, a pitch that tends to be used more heavily in Japan than in the US. Senga’s is so effective that it’s been dubbed the Ghost Fork:
And here he totally dominates Oryx Buffalo with her last July. He keeps them true to a few up-and-coming tailors, but mostly just plays with them one interlude after another:
In case you were wondering how he handles pressure, he’s great here shutting out an opposing lineup in a postseason playoff game. Also note that he displays a more varied pitch mix in this game, scoring multiple hits with a narrow slider:
If you’ve been insisting on putting off checking his talent until you see him make it against the big leagues, here he knocks out five in two innings of action against Team USA in the final round. World Classic Baseball. His leadership seemed to be lacking that night, but he certainly kept those guys off balance. It looks like the first and last hits will come on a floor plan with some screw changes/movement, though it’s more likely just a variation on his cleavage:
So there you go. You are now armed with enough knowledge to pretend you know something about Kodai Senga. And with that, you can once again continue to ignore some of the best baseball in the world for the next 12 months.