From the Department of Stuff I Never Ever Thought About and Even Now Have Trouble Believing, the New York Times had a story over the weekend about the baseballs used by NPB teams, and how — until this year — Japanese teams have all been able to use different suppliers for baseballs.
In addition to the stuff about the balls themselves, it’s a neat read for the background info on the way Japanese teams and the league interact. The teams have all of the power and the league didn’t want to interfere with the business deals each of them had with their ball suppliers. At least until now.
Oh, and the new ball? Deadsville. Very pitcher friendly, it seems, which may make the notion of an American team taking a gamble on a Japanese pitcher even more harrowing than it always has been.
Yu Darvish, anyone?
Last Thursday, we learned that the MLBPA was challenging the Nippon Professional Baseball posting system, delaying Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani’s move to Major League Baseball. The latest collective bargaining agreement removed a lot of the incentive for players to come to the U.S. by capping pay. Ohtani, for example, can only receive a signing bonus between $300,000 and $3.53 million while his team — the Nippon Ham Fighters — would receive $20 million for posting him.
Jon Morosi reports that the deadline for this issue to be resolved is 8 PM ET on Monday evening. He notes that key NPB officials have worked through the night in Japan to try to reach a resolution. It is possible that even if no agreement is reached, the deadline could be pushed further back.
Ohtani, 23, has become a heralded hitter and pitcher in Japan. At the plate over his five-year career, he has compiled a .286/.358/.500 triple-slash line with 48 home runs and 166 RBI in 1,170 plate appearances. On the mound, he has a 2.52 ERA with a 624/200 K/BB ratio across 543 innings.