“Japanese baseball is not an American minor league”

» 10 January 2012 » In npb »

Last week, speaking to Sponichi, NPB commissioner Ryozo Kato made a few interesting comments.

On players like Yu Darvish and Hisashi Iwakuma moving on to MLB…

“It’s a natural thing for talented players.”

「才能ある選手なら自然なこと」

“It’s important that Japanese baseball has some appeal, so we can develop new talent.”

「新たな才能の開拓のためには日本の野球が魅力的であることが大事」

I find this to be a sensible response to the situation. Kato seems to recognize that top players are going to want to test themselves against MLB competition much less grudgingly than some of the NPB old guard. I’ve long desired that NPB places more of an emphasis on developing young players, and it’s started to happen over the last few years.

On the potential of an international MLB draft…

“Japanese baseball is not an American minor league. We have to be tough about things to be tough about.”

「日本の野球は米国のマイナーじゃない。突っ張るところは突っ張らないと」

I’m right with Kato on this one too. MLB may be superior in many ways, but NPB’s objective is not to develop talent for other leagues. NPB teams want to win games and cultivate fan bases just like any other competitive sports league.

More relevant to the international draft context of this quote, veteran NPB players have a well-established tradition of being recognized as veterans in MLB negotiations (notably free agency) and there’s no reason to change that.

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