"I'm pretty sure I'm going to play in Japan again sometime."
"Hirooka is a Rookie GM" ...Julio Franco
I also play to win. I read that some of the Japanese sports papers
said, "Franco made an agreement with Marines because he only wanted money."
But that's not true! I was paid 3.5 million dollars when I was in
Japan playing for the Chiba Lotte Marines. Now I get 2.5 million
dollars from Indians. That's a loss of one million dollars.
If I wanted the money, I would have stayed in Japan.
I want my fans in Japan to know about this. I'm sure that I will
play baseball again in Japan, before I completely retire. But I will
never play on a team that Chiba Lotte Marines' GM Hirooka manages. I don't
think Hirooka knows what he was doing.
First, Hirooka is a rookie GM. A GM is supposed to work hard
and get along with all the players and coaches. He brought in Bobby
Valentine to manage the Marines. And thanks to Bobby Valentine, the
Chiba Lotte Marines finished in second place in the Pacific League.
(This was Chiba Lotte Marines best finish in the last 10 years) It's
not fair to fire Bobby before giving him a chance to win the pennant this
Next I hated Hirooka's style. Even though there were two batting
coaches, Takagi, Hirooka's assistant GM tried to teach the players how
to hit. Even the Japanese newspaper reporters were trying to coach
the players. (Assistant GM, Takagi has never played professional
baseball.) I thought it was insulting to the players and to the other
One more thing, Hirooka would tell us to how to wear our uniforms,
especially our socks, and other stupid stuff like that. I personally
think as long as we win and play hard, things like this don't matter.
That's not smart thinking. Not smart baseball.
See, I can understand that it's supposed to be GM Hirooka's style.
But, I don't care. We finished in second place and it has nothing
to do with how we wear our uniforms. We played well. GM Hirooka,
showed up three days before the season and started saying, "You guys are
like a high school team." He was treating us like a shit and embarrassing
I know that Japanese baseball players from a very young age are taught
to respect elders and their bosses. Even if these elders and bosses tell
them the wrong things to do, Japanese players would never disagree with
them. Yet these higher and older individuals shouldn't be abusing their
power. If Hirooka had been a baseball player himself, he wouldn't have
said such a thing.
We're all grown ups. We have emotions.
All the players work very hard for themselves and also for the team.
The GM should be supporting the players. I think Hirooka should never
say to the team that it reminds him of a high school team. We might
look young but we are profesionals. And we played good baseball last
There were so many little problems like that, in Japan. I would
say things are the same in life, too. How you start is not important,
but how you finish is. Hirooka treated us like high school kids.
This is why I can't play for the Chiba Lotte Marines while GM Hirooka is
But, wait a minute. Sometimes you need to take chances when you
play baseball. Can I go from the first base to third on a hit?
You never know unless you try. Japanese teams should try to hit and
run more. They do not have to always bunt. There are no rules
in baseball. It's strange to think that the second batter has to
bunt when the lead off batter gets on base.
Umpires are very different, though. They're terrible. I
heard the strike zone was wider in Japan. I don't have a problem
with that. I learn to adjust to each umpire's strike zone.
However, the umpires change their calls and strike zone all the time.
Umpires change their strike zones during the game. It was kind of
low at the beginning of the game, but it is much higher by the end of the
game. How are you supposed to deal with that? It was obvious
that the umpires wanted to finish the game as early as possible and go
Japanese pitchers are smart. They can throw the balls to the zone
where the umpires call strikes. Yet, a lot of those pitches are balls,
Pitchers in Japan are clever but the umpires are terrible. That's
why foreign players cannot do better in Japan.
When I told one umpire that he changed the strike zone, he told me that
this was the strike zone in Japan.
Japanese Style? Amigo, I don't think so. Bats and balls
in Japan are flat, too, right? You don't start running from third
to first, do you? This is baseball.
"I still love my teammates and the fans." ..Julio Franco
I liked Ginza. I liked to get on a train, sit by the window and
watch the sites. I like Japanese customs, too. The people are
very polite. I never had any problems with that. I read a
lot of books about Japanese customs and went to the library many times.
We had some neighbors who could speak English and our baby-sitter helped
us out a lot. She even came to the Dominican Republic to visit.
[Franco's home country.] She is a great woman.
Of course, I cannot forget about my fans and teammates. I still
love the fans. I hope they go and watch Chiba Lotte games this year.
I also became good friends with many Chiba Lotte players, especially pitcher
Komiyama and shortstop Hori. Please say "hello" to the rest of the
Chiba Lotte Marines. I really miss them. Ichiro was great,
too. I had so much fun with him. I wish I could have stayed
longer in Japan. I'll probably play in Chiba Lotte Marines stadium
again, someday. But, as long as Hirooka is the GM for the Chiba Lotte
Marines, I will be playing for the visiting team.
I don't like the way Ichiro has to do things. Ichiro is just doing
what the team tells him to do. He never complains about his salary
to the owner, or about the length of contract. He just listens to
the team. He's a superstar. It would be easy for Ichiro to
get 4 million dollars to play in the Majors. Why does he have to
work for peanuts?
What if Ichiro gets hurt and won't be able to play any more? Suppose
Orix, the parent corporation of the BlueWave gave Ichiro a job. How
much would Ichiro get paid? $50,000? People say it's Japanese
style, but I disagree with it.
The most important thing is how much money Ichiro brought to the company.
If he didn't play, nobody would go and watch the Orix BlueWave games.
Now, I think many young Japanese baseball players are paying attention
to Nomo, and how he has a guaranteed contract, with a promising future.
Nomo is getting a lot of money, more than he could earn in Japan, right?
There are at least 10 players who are better than Nomo in Japan."
"I'm looking forward to playing in Japan again some time in the future."
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.