Japan Invades US via Baseball
Two of Japan’s brightest stars go to the All Star Game
By: Todd Crowell
These two baseball players are bookends to an era of Japanese players in America that is fading with another about to be born. The first, Daisuke Matsuzaka (universally known as Dice-K), is retiring at the end of the season after playing for eight years with the Boston Red Sox. Dice-K is the namesake of the “Matsuzaka generation” of Japanese baseball players that included Ichiro and Hideki Matsui among other less well-known ballplayers.
The new generation moving to the forefront is built around the awesomely talented Shohei Ohtani, the only player who is both a designated hitter and a starting pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels. His talent will be on full display on July 13 at the mid-season All-Star Game, which pits the best players of the American and National Leagues in a one-off contest.
Both Ohtani and Yu Darvish, the pitcher for the San Diego Padres, have been chosen to play in the game, Darvish as a pitcher. Ohtani is the first all-star player chosen to play both as a pitcher and a hitter. Darvish joined the Texas Rangers five seasons ago before moving to the Padres, with a stop in Chicago. He is coming off one of his better seasons.
There is an unusual amount of excitement building to this all-star game because of the possibility of the two giants might play against each other. They never have met in regular season play…