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Rhodes a Giant, Turning Japanese in 2005

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Rhodes a Giant, Turning Japanese in 2005
Tuffy Rhodes, formerly of the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes, officially becomes the latest #4 batter to sign with the Yomiuri Giants. Tuffy's agent and the Giants have come to an agreement for 2 years at 5.5-oku yen a year plus 15-oku yen signing bonus for the Pacific League slugger who will be 36 years old next season. There is one condition, though: that Rhodes not commute by motorcycle. The Giants don't want to risk losing such an expensive investment to capital city traffic.

In related news, if Rhodes is registered at ichi-gun for 150 days next season, he will qualify for free agency, and with it, become a Japanese player. That's right, he will no longer be restricted by the foreign player limit. According to Chapter 11, Section 82, Condition 4, a foreign player who has completed the requirements for free agency is no longer bound by the foreign player limitations (11-82 Subsection 2) starting the season after qualifying.

Should Rhodes keep with the top team for 150 days next season, he will be the second player after Seibu's Kaku Taigen to qualify under this rule.

I've never really been strongly opposed to the foreign player limits (as many of you are), but I did think that becoming exempt after about five years or so would be nice. I wasn't aware of this rule before, and am glad to see that it is there. Campaigning to reduce the length of this condition might be better recieved than campaigning against the foreign player limits all together.
Comments
Re: Rhodes a Giant, Turning Japanese in 2005
[ Author: Guest: Suraj | Posted: Dec 26, 2003 10:50 AM ]

Westbay-san,

Could you outline what Rhodes becoming a FA and a "Japanese player" means exactly?
  1. Does it mean that whatever team he's with can have 3 foreign players plus Rhodes, because he doesn't count as a foreign player?
  2. What is the difference between this off-season, when he was released by Kintetsu and thereby free to pursue the biggest contract offered to him, and his status as a FA if he is on the 1-gun roster for 150 days?
Thank you.
Re: Rhodes a Giant, Turning Japanese in 2005
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Dec 26, 2003 12:40 PM | YBS Fan ]

Good questions. It's good to see that someone is paying attention.

You hit the nail on the head with #1. Yes, it means that the Giants will be able to have Rhodes plus three other foreign players in the game at the same time. (Highly unlikely for the Giants, though.) Rhodes will be exempt from the foreign player limits rule, just as former Dragon and Tiger Taihoh Yasuaki was exempt after entering from a four year Japanese collage. (Remember, this is the fourth exemption condition. I don't know them all, but entering from a four year collage is one that several Taiwanese have used. Also, starting next season, any drafted player (studying four years or not) are also exempt. This will help nissei who were drafted out of high school, living in Japan less than four years.)

As for the second question, the difference is putting in the time (nine seasons of being registered at ichi-gun for 150 days). This condition is about having put in the time to reach free agency, not necessarily declaring free agency or being a "free agent" by circumstances (i.e. being released).

With a two year deal, Rhodes' contract will trump his free agency status after next season, so he won't be able to declare until after the 2005 season at the earliest.
Re: Rhodes a Giant, Turning Japanese in 2005
[ Author: Guest: Suraj | Posted: Dec 26, 2003 5:46 PM ]

Thanks for the clear responses!

Happy Holidays everyone!
Re: Rhodes a Giant, Turning Japanese in 2005
[ Author: CFiJ | Posted: Dec 27, 2003 10:55 AM ]

- I don't know them all, but entering from a four year collage is one that several Taiwanese have used. Also, starting next season, any drafted player (studying four years or not) are also exempt. This will help nissei who were drafted out of high school, living in Japan less than four years.)

Westbay-san! You should know them all, because they were all in the FAQ I translated for you!

The ways a non-Japanese born player may avoid the foreign limit are as thus:
  • Become a naturalized Japanese citizen.
  • Live in Japan for five or more years, attending three or more years of a Japanese jr. high school, high school, or vocational/community college.
  • Live in Japan for four or more years, attending a Japanese 4-year college for four continuous years.
  • Live in Japan for five or more years, playing for an industrial league team for three or more of years.
  • Attain free agency eligibility.
  • Live in Japan for four years (before or after turning pro) and join a team via the draft. (From 2004 on.)
That last one, incidently, is my translation of the addition to Nishizaki-san's FAQ, so if you want to add that to the FAQ I sent you, that'd be cool.

I used to be very anti-limits on foreign players. And in general principle, I still am. But I think in a way it gets overblown. More foreign players could avoid the limits if they put time and effort into the Japanese leagues. Most foreign players come to Japan to make some good money, and possibly showcase their talents for MLB teams. Few really care about Japanese baseball or their teams. But for those, like Rhodes, who actually want to be a part of Pro Yakyuu, it is not exclusionary.

On a related note, I notice that in the list of "Current Issues" on the Japanese Professional Baseball Players' Association webpage (jpbpa.net), there is an entry for "Foreign Player Limit." However, there is no link for the JPBPA's position on the limit. Westbay-san, do you know if the JPBPA is against the limit? Or are they in favor of stricter limits?

Also, I'm again impressed with the JPBPA's efforts to reach out to the fans, even to the point of having polls in Shuukan Baseball! I really wish the MLBPA would learn from them.
Re: Rhodes a Giant, Turning Japanese in 2005
[ Author: Guest: George Steinbrennernot | Posted: Dec 26, 2003 3:10 PM ]

Just imagine the outcry if MLB discussed a 3 player foreign limit. This xenophoibic rule should be dumped in the name of better baseball.
Re: Rhodes a Giant, Turning Japanese in 2005
[ Author: 1908 | Posted: Dec 26, 2003 10:14 PM | HT Fan ]

- Just imagine the outcry if MLB discussed a 3 player foreign limit. This xenophoibic rule should be dumped in the name of better baseball.

Are you a fan of Japanese baseball, or do you follow it to "scout" players for your MLB fantasy league? Just curious.
Re: Rhodes a Giant, Turning Japanese in 2005
[ Author: Guest: George Steinbrennernot | Posted: Dec 28, 2003 4:35 PM ]

No, I just like tweakin the nose of guys who have an attitude.
Foreign Player Limits
[ Author: Guest: Jim Albright | Posted: Dec 27, 2003 8:20 AM ]

Sometimes things come together at opportune moments, like this thread and my finally getting around to reading Robert Whiting's fine book "You Gotta Have Wa." In the epilogue, back in 1986, Reggie Smith offered an elegant solution: why not a salary cap on how much a team could spend on gaijin? Combine that with the rule Westbay-san has outlined applying to Tuffy Rhodes, and Japanese teams would have incentive to develop gaijin stars, and then keep them. This would provide competition for Japanese players, which probably would strengthen them in the end.

Further, it would help ensure the fiscal health of NPB by encouraging them to develop talent they could sell after seven or eight years to the majors. A team could, especially if it was in the cellar, choose to spend its money on a bunch of talented young foreigners (Latins, perhaps?) as a way to improve themselves. Contenders would still be likely to spend on one or two stars, probably power hitters. You'd have no set number of foreigners on a roster, but the principle of keeping it a Japanese game could be preserved if the powers-that-be felt such was desirable.

Who knows, Japanese fans might even like seeing a bunch of young, hungry, hustling foreigners playing the game, especially if those players raised the talent level of NPB play!

Jim Albright
Re: Foreign Player Limits
[ Author: Guest: George Steinbrennernot | Posted: Dec 28, 2003 4:40 PM ]

I like your ideas. I do think a free market approach will improve the game. Unfortunately, it is easier said than done. What exactly is the rationale for this three player limit? If it is some protectionist approach, then the underlying assumption is that the native players are inferior. I don't believe that to be the case, but what is the reason for this?
Re: Foreign Player Limits
[ Author: Guest: Jim Albright | Posted: Dec 29, 2003 1:15 AM ]

It is a long standing idea, IIRC. It came about in the 1950s or early '60s (again, IIRC), when Japanese power hitters could rarely produce what American sluggers could. Further, the NPB power structure wanted to market the game as a Japanese sport, and thus the rule was born. The idea of keeping NPB a Japanese game is still strong.

Jim Albright
Re: Foreign Player Limits
[ Author: Kiyoshi | Posted: Dec 29, 2003 2:05 PM | HAN Fan ]

Wasn't the player limit "two" foreign players until the 1990s (when it was expanded to "three" players)?
Re: Foreign Player Limits
[ Author: Guest: George Steinbrennernot | Posted: Dec 29, 2003 2:35 PM ]

OK, thanks. I don't get it, but I have to respect the local perspective. How can it be a Japanese game if it was invented by Americans, and played by Americans, Mexicans, Canadians, Dominicans, Venezuelans, Cubans, Koreans among others? However, the younger generation listens to music from all of Asia as well as Europe and the Americas, and I bet they think it is "music" not Japanese music. So perhaps the attitude might one day evolve to viewing "baseball" as a game played well and enjoyed by many around the world, much as soccer is today.

Japan of today has made too many strides to be bound by some rules made in the 1950s. IMHO, this rule should be re-visited with an eye to ensuring the best interest of the game and the local fans.
Re: Foreign Player Limits
[ Author: Guest: Jim Albright | Posted: Dec 29, 2003 9:50 PM ]

The Japanese have traditionally approached the game differently than Westerners, and the approach does give the game a distinctive Japanese flavor. "You Gotta Have Wa" is an easy read and helps outline the differences in approach and the like. I recommend the book if you're trying to understand issues like this.

Jim Albright
Re: Foreign Player Limits
[ Author: Kiyoshi | Posted: Dec 29, 2003 11:08 PM | HAN Fan ]

The foreign player limit is not exclusive to the four Asian leagues. The Mexican League as well as the four winter leagues in the Caribbean Baseball Federation (Dominican, Mexican Pacific, Puerto Rican, and Venezuelan) have foreign player limits.
Re: Foreign Player Limits
[ Author: Dusanh | Posted: Dec 30, 2003 7:46 PM ]

I'll offer a perspective from the Taiwanese league. Everybody knows the native players are inferior, there's no question about that. If there were no limits for gaijin players in Taiwan, the whole league will be dominated by foreign players. While this is not a problem in North American society (ie. Americans not minding a hockey team that's mostly Canadian, or Canadians watching their Raptors and Blue Jays), it simply wouldn't work in Taiwan. People wouldn't be interested in coming to see a bunch of non-native players who are only there because they're not good enough for MLB or NPB. The culture is not anywhere close to North America, and it wouldn't be unless you have people of all races living together.
Re: Foreign Player Limits
[ Author: mijow | Posted: Jan 8, 2004 10:57 PM | HT Fan ]

Just to widen the perspective a little, I believe that professional soccer in the U.S. also has a foreign player limit. At least they used to. Is it still in force? Do Americans ever question why this is the case? Australian rugby league also had limits in the past. Other sports around the world undoubtedly have limits on foreigners, players outside local regions etc.

I have no problem with limits in sport, as it does protect the local leagues from being swamped by players from outside. I'm all for the market economy and free trade, but this is sport, not trade.
Re: Foreign Player Limits
[ Author: Guest: Robin | Posted: Apr 10, 2004 10:26 PM ]

There is no foreigner limit in the German hockey league and hardly any Germans play there (or it has been like that for many years, I havent followed it for a long time). This has a number of effects, one being that clubs don't bother building up and supporting young "national" players. On the other hand, fans don't bother much, they cheer foreign players just as they do German players. But Germans aren't Japanese. If Japanese baseball teams would have more foreigners, it would be seen as "omoshirokunai," not interesting, I am pretty sure. It is not racist or nationalistic, just a good mix of common sense and naivete.
Re: Rhodes a Giant, Turning Japanese in 2005
[ Author: leicester | Posted: Mar 28, 2004 9:20 AM | SL Fan ]

This may seem an odd, and possibly useless question, but let us say for the sake of argument, that the "true" baseball World Cup comes to fruition next March, would Rhodes then be eligible for selection by Japan, as he would be a "Japanese player"?

Just something to think about.
Re: Rhodes a Giant, Turning Japanese in 2005
[ Author: kojaxs | Posted: Dec 20, 2004 9:01 AM | TYS Fan ]

As I understand it he would only be a "Japanese player" in the eyes of NPB. He is not a citizen of Japan, and I would guess the World Cup eligibilities would work on citizenship not league standing.

"Turning Japanese" might be a slightly misleading way of putting it.
Re: Rhodes a Giant, Turning Japanese in 2005
[ Author: coach1188 | Posted: Apr 17, 2004 2:40 AM ]

I Played with Tuffy as a Kid in Ohio and I couldn't be happier for him. I just wish that a major league team would give him a chance to come back to the States.
Re: Rhodes a Giant, Turning Japanese in 2005
[ Author: Guest: George Steinbrennernot | Posted: Apr 22, 2004 10:34 AM ]

Tuffy might take exception to your wish. In an interview in one of the New York papers when the Yankees were in Japan, he said that type of thinking annoys him. Why does he have to play MLB? He is a big star in Japan, very successful, makes excellent money, and seems to mostly enjoy it. I tend to think that if Tuffy wanted to play in North America, he already would be.
Re: Rhodes a Giant, Turning Japanese in 2005
[ Author: Guest: Alfred | Posted: Dec 16, 2004 11:01 AM ]

You mention chapter 11, section 82. Is that from the Japanese version of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA)? Can you tell me where I can get a copy of the most current CBA in English? I would really appreciate it. Thank you.

By the way, I really enjoy reading your posts. Thanks again.
Nippon Professional Baseball Agreement
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Dec 16, 2004 1:42 PM | YBS Fan ]

It is entitled "[Year] Nippon Professional Baseball Agreement" (often referred to simply as the "Baseball Agreement") and is available in Japanese only from the Japan Professional Baseball Players Association web site here. The 2004 version is the latest [Direct Link - PDF file].

The nice thing about the document they made available is that it's not one of those disfunctional image scanned PDFs - you can search and copy the text. However, I don't know of an English version. It would be a big undertaking. Maybe some Asian Studies collage students would like to take it on as a class project. (I'll help by supplying a Wiki for such a project if such a group exists.)

It seems to me that new versions are often hacked out at the Pro Yakyu Convension in November, but I haven't seen notice for the 2005 version, yet.
What's up with Tuffy?
[ Author: Guest | Posted: Dec 19, 2004 4:14 AM ]

Sorry to get off subject, but what's happening with Tuffy this year? I don't see him on the Giants' roster (nor do I see Kapler, but that's a different story).

Thanks.
Re: What's up with Tuffy?
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Dec 19, 2004 2:23 PM | YBS Fan ]

He'll be a Giant still.

I've just started entering the roster information for 2005 this past week. I don't get foreign players in until March at the earliest - even returnees. Guess it's time to put in a disclaimer clarifying that.
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