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Rookie status

Discussion in the Ask the Commish forum
Rookie status
An anonymous bench-boy write:

Why is it that a Japanes player can go play in the States, he can receive the Rookie of the Year Award, yet any player who has any experience, major league or minor league in the States, that plays in Japan cannot receive the same award? Along the same lines, why can their only be 4 foreign player per team in Japan? What does that tell you about the Japanese and their "Yakyu"?

Reasons - good or bad
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: May 10, 2001 6:03 PM | YBS Fan ]

My, but don't you know how to choose a tough topic?

But that's OK.  I'll take your bait.

The answer you're looking for is "protectionism" or "patriotism."  I'm not too fond of either concept, let alone excuse, so I'll give you another reason:  pride.

Yes, the Majors think that they're a level above the rest of the world.  Why else would the Major League's championship series be called the "World Series?"  To be the best in the Majors is to be the best in the world.  And until a true world league is formed, they'll continue to have the same arrogance.  (And probably will for several years after.)

Do Japanese baseball fans think that Nomo or Sasaki deserved the RoY?  Well, you'll get a mixed response on that one.  And the reason that Japanese fans would think that they did deserve the RoY is because they believe, like the Major League elitists, that the Majors is a step above Japanese Pro Yakyu.  Did any of those Japanese players who went over and dominate have similar pressures to any rookie out of AAA?  You bet they did.  They said themselves that they wanted to challenge the next level up.  Yes, even Japanese ball players seem to consider themselves at AAA an a half.

If you ask my personal opinion, I'd say that they shouldn't have gotten it.  Both Nomo and Sasaki dominated in Japan for many years.  They were both seasoned veterans playing above their peers.  And the same goes with Ichiro.  I have a hard time calling him a rookie.

However, take a player like Shinjo (Mets).  He was a super-star with the Tigers, but I'd place him average to slightly above average.  He'd come through when it was needed, which was, and still is, his strong point.  He's also very good defensivly.  However, he's not in the same class as Nomo, Sasaki, or Ichiro.  I'd have no problem considering him a rookie in the Majors.  By the way, I've been very impressed by how well he's done.  It's him, more than these others, that proves to me that the Japanese game is at a higher level than many think.

Someone had posted, either here or to the Pro Yakyu Mailing List, that even Cuba players qualify for the RoY, even though they could well beat the pants off of any MLB team.  (Or, at least they could a few years ago.  I haven't heard much good news coming from Cuban baseball lately.)

Nonetheless, I haven't covered the other side of the coin, why is it that Major and/or Minor experience disqualifies one from the Japanese RoY?

Well, essentailly, it's a popularity contest, and the people who vote on the contest all have their favorite.  There actually was a foreigner considered for RoY a number of years ago.  Hiroshima's Checo (later signed with Boston) was seriously considered in 1994 or 95, and got quite a few votes.  So, it doesn't appear to be a rule set in stone that a foreign player cannot recieve the RoY Award, but is simply a bias on the part of those who vote for the award.

As an aside, Checo didn't come from the Majors or Minors, he was Hiroshima's first big success story from their Dominican Republic Carp Acadamy.

Will the bias every be overcome?  That's a hard one to answer.  But changes continue to happen, and as the Japanese game is recognized to be on the same level as the Majors, and higher than the Minors, there is hope that a more bias-free system may come about.

Limit on Foreigners
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: May 10, 2001 6:37 PM | YBS Fan ]

Your related question was the "import limits" one, where you want me to say that a trade embargo is necessary.  Well, instead I'll give you a little history and hope that you can see that things are improving.

First of all, your statement, "... only be 4 foreign player per team..." is a bit off.  For a couple of years now, each team may hire as many foreign players as they like, pitchers and batters.  There is no limit.  Where there is a limit is on the top squad, where 2 pitchers and 2 batters may be registered at a given time.  Of course, I'm sure that that's what you meant, but just had a symantics problem.  No big deal.

But let's turn the clock back a decade or so.  At the beginning of the 1990's, only 1 foreign player was allowed per team.  That could be a pitcher or batter, but since most people wanted the powerful bat of foreign players, very few pitchers crosses the Pacific.

Then it was decided that more foreign pitchers would be useful in Japan.  After all, there were a number who did very well here, and the limit was raised to 2 players, one pitcher, one batter.

Wait a minute, my memory is failing me here.  (No I don't know everything.)  Can someone help me out?  Was that it, or was it 2 players either way or as a mix?  If it was 2 players either way, and everyone continued getting batters, that may have been what prompted the rise in the limit to 4 - 2 pitchers and 2 batters.  But I'm not so certain.

Nonetheless, even with 4 foreign players, many teams had a hard time getting the quality they expected out of their suketto.  So the top on foreign players that a team can sign was dropped, and the 4 player limit only applied to the 1-gun team.

Now, there are ways around this rule.  A Chunichi scout had a player from Taiwan that he wanted to bring in, but the 1 player limit was a bit constraining.  So he had this player come over to Japan and study at a university in Nagoya for few of years, then hired him to work with the team's front office.  After that, they chose him in the 2nd round of the 1989 draft.  The player I'm referring to is Taihoh Yasuaki.  The loop hole that Chunichi used with him, and Kaku (or was it Kiku?) was to have them go through the Japanese university system, then through the draft.  Players who do that are not considered to be foreign players, nationality aside.

Hiroshima also played a trick on the system last year, or perhaps the year before.  (Bad memory again.)  One of their Acadamy kids was listed, and played most of the season, as an infielder.  However, he was originally a pitcher, and was put on the mound a couple/few times that season.  One game he pitched in had already seen Hiroshima's two other foreigners pitch, so they had 3 foreign pitchers throw in the same game.  The opposing manager objected, stating that they're only allowed 2 foreign pitchers.  But the umpire upheld the Carp's right to have him throw, pointing out that only 2 foreign pitchers are listed on the roster card, and if they chose to have a fielder pitch, it's up to them.  (I wish more good plays like this by umpires could be highlighted.)

Nonetheless, the limit is rising.  More internationalization of the game may see a fall of the limit.  Again, it's a change of attitude in the people that run the game that is necessary.

You may want to take a look at this message to the Pro Yakyu Mailing List for an idea of some other reasons that the "powers that be" need to change.

Re: Limit on Foreigners
[ Author: Dusanh | Posted: Jun 19, 2003 6:17 AM ]

As much as I'd like to see the limit abrogated, I'm not sure about the impact it'll have on the average NPB players. I mean, we say NPB is above the AAA level, but that's only because there are MLB level superstars in NPB who are unwilling/never given a chance to play in MLB. The lower 40% of NPB players might not even make it in AAA. If you lift the limit entirely, I tend to think that we will see a huge migration of minor league players who are capable of replacing the average NPB players. The stars of NPB will still be stars, but the average players will surely suffer.
I agree with the Commish
[ Author: seiyu | Posted: May 17, 2001 10:02 AM ]

The reason why Japanese Ball players are eligible to receive the RoY is Major League's arrogance. Yesterday, Peter Gammons of the ESPN said that Japanese like Nomo, Sasaki, and Ichiro should not be allowed to receive RoY. He believes Japanese Baseball is at the Major League level, and its an insult to Japan to give ROOKIE titles to a seasoned Japanese players. I agree 100%
We've been playing ball since 1867!!!
professionally since 1934.
"Arrogance" in Other Sports
[ Author: Guest: Nick | Posted: Jun 18, 2003 2:41 PM ]

I know this thread is old, but I stumpled upon it while looking for "umpire" (see my other thread) but I thought I should say something about this.

It's a sad fact that almost every professional sport has seen the presence of "arrogance" from the nation who considers itself to be responsable for it's creation.

I don't know how popular Hockey is (I know this forum is about Japanese Baseball, I'll come back to that in a moment) in Japan, but in Canada (where I come from) it is consider to be the national sport. The most eloquant act of arrogance in our case comes from a popular TV annoucer who is not only arrogant regarding foreigners and how they are treated, but is also totally racist to other cultures (if you know Hockey Night in Canada, you probably know that I'm referring to the well-known Don Cherry). Sadly, Don Cherry's comments are more than popular and appreciated in English-Canada, so this kind of arrogance is not limited to the U.S. and/or to baseball, but it is sometimes even worst in other sports or in other countries.

When it comes to baseball though, what's kind of sad is that, like most of America's acts of arrogance, it is a "covert" psychological one that most Americans don't even realize they have until they think about it twice.


This is a site about Pro Yakyu (Japanese Baseball), not about who the next player to go over to MLB is. It's a community of Pro Yakyu fans who have come together to share their knowledge and opinions with the world. It's a place to follow teams and individuals playing baseball in Japan (and Asia), and to learn about Japanese (and Asian) culture through baseball.

It is my sincere hope that once you learn a bit about what we're about here that you will join the community of contributors.

Michael Westbay
(aka westbaystars)

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