Conversation between Sadaharu Oh and Akio Chiba (creator of 'Captain')

New Year's Special Feature in the January 1978 issue of Monthly Shonen Jump
Chiba: Mr. Oh, congratulations on hitting home run number 756. I was watching on TV, and I couldn't help but jump up when it happened.
Oh: Thank you. I was able to hit it thanks to everyone's support.
Chiba: After that home run, you raised your arms in a "banzai" celebration. You don't usually express a lot of joy, even after hitting a home run.
Oh: That's right. Our manager [Shigeo Nagashima], during his playing days, would express joy with his whole body after hitting a home run, but I just can't do that. Kuni-san [Hitting Coach Akira Kunimatsu] always tells me: "The fans are happy for you, so you should gesture in response." But... I'm just not a showman by nature.
Chiba: I think if you took even more time rounding the bases, that would be good... But you're being exactly who you are, Mr. Oh, and I think it's good.
Oh: If one tries too hard to make it look a certain way, wouldn't that be strange? Regardless, with number 756, fans all over Japan were looking forward to it, and so were my teammates, so I wanted to do it as soon as possible. So when I actually did it,

Masahiro Tanaka comments about 'Captain'

“'Captain' shows you that effort pays off. This story is wonderful in the way it depicts the bond between teammates and the solidarity born from overcoming difficulty together. My favorite characters are Taniguchi and Igarashi. The team doesn't have many reserve players, so the further they progress in the tournament, the tougher things get for everyone. But they battle through it. That left a strong impression on me.”

Source: http://www.animax.co.jp/press/2011/110718-01

Ichiro talks about 'Captain'

"Back in elementary school, I was deeply moved by this graphic novel. It was all I thought about."

Interview and original text by Yuta Ishida
Published in Playboy (Japan), Vol. 37, No. 34, September 17, 2002, Shueisha
When asked "what manga moved you deeply?," Ichiro answers without hesitating. He names a timeless masterpiece - one with main characters who are ordinary baseball-loving kids. That's right, it's that manga we all loved - 'Captain.'

Ichiro wasn't always a superstar. While he now competes for the batting title in the major leagues, he started out as a baseball-loving kid just like any of us.
'Captain' is a classic baseball manga by the late manga artist Akio Chiba. It's a story about ordinary junior high school kids on an average baseball team. They work extremely hard toward their goal of competing with powerhouse baseball teams. 'Captain' is a long-form manga that depicts four captains of the baseball team at Sumiya Junior High School No. 2.
Ichiro: "I think I was in elementary school when I first found out about 'Captain.' To give you an idea of how influential it is,


Yu Darvish posts thoughts before Tommy John surgery

English translation:


March 16, 2015

Tomorrow, I will undergo right ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction.

A tendon in my right wrist will be transplanted into my elbow.

It will take one year to make a comeback.

Looking back, in elementary school, junior high, and high school, I had a low tolerance for pain, and I was physically susceptible to injury.

Still, I entered professional baseball in 2005, and I think I have thrown a lot over the past ten years.

Until the middle of my second year as a professional, I was physically and mentally weak, but


River Ave. Blues

Way back in January, I opened Yahoo! Japan and saw an in-depth interview of Hiroki Kuroda by Sponichi Annex.

I translated it into English and forwarded it to Mike Axisa of River Ave. Blues, the excellent New York Yankees blog.

A couple of days later, this graced the Internet:


Christmas Conclusion in Tanaka Matter? Tachibana’s Questions Answered

English translation of Nikkan Sports article


Christmas Conclusion in Tanaka Matter? Tachibana’s Questions Answered

by 古川真弥 (Masaya Furukawa) 7:23, December 21, 2013 (Japan time) (from the print edition)

Photo caption: To end his throwing session, Tanaka of Rakuten throws lightly from a side arm slot. (Photo by 山崎安昭 (Yasuaki Yamazaki))

We may find out early next week whether Rakuten pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (age 25) will have the opportunity to try his hand in Major League Baseball. Team president Yozo Tachibana (age 42) responded to reporters at the team office in Sendai on the 20th. The company has ongoing discussions about whether to grant Tanaka’s wish and post him. Team owner Mikitani is involved in the discussions. It appears likely that the team will approve the posting. Tachibana said, “We will talk to Tanaka after we decide which direction to take. We don’t intend to let this drag out.” Tanaka is scheduled to appear in events in Tokyo on the 22nd and 23rd. It appears Rakuten will inform him of their decision on or after the 24th, around Christmas.

There has been progress. When the new system was officially agreed to between Japan and the U.S. on the 17th, Tachibana admitted that some things were unclear about the new rules: “Honestly, we don’t understand everything. We have some questions.” Specifically, they were checking with NPB about whether the Japanese team would have any way of tracking which MLB teams its posted player was negotiating with, among other questions. Today, Tachibana said: “(My questions) have been answered.” President Tachibana takes his accountability to sponsors and other stakeholders seriously, and the fact that his questions have been answered is highly significant.

Asked about Rakuten stakeholder opinion on whether to allow Tanaka to try his hand in the majors, Tachibana says: “Some are for it, some are against it.” Tachibana says that within Rakuten, “the aspect of testing one’s abilities overseas is part of our company culture. It is true that many are of that opinion.” On the other hand, Tachibana also said, “It would be great if the entire [Japanese] baseball world becomes even more exciting, with players not going to the majors, and [the league] becoming even more attractive.” Tachibana gave the impression that explaining to stakeholders and having internal discussions is taking time.

Tanaka worked out at Kleenex Stadium Miyagi today. After playing catch indoors, he did tachinage (literally: standing throws; throwing without using much lower body) in the bullpen. Tanaka explained: "I'm stimulating myself in various ways. You use your body differently on flat ground than on a slope." While forced to wait for the team's decision, Tanaka is steadily preparing for next season.


Will Rakuten post Masahiro Tanaka?

Masahiro Tanaka told reporters that he wants to pitch in the majors in 2014.

He made the announcement after an hour-long meeting with Yozo Tachibana, president of his current team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles. Rakuten is a successful company, so it's safe to say Mr. Tachibana had a plan going into that meeting. If the math says Rakuten has to keep Tanaka next year, and the star pitcher starts the meeting by saying he wants to go to MLB, Mr. Tachibana would have said something like: "Listen, I'm sorry but you're staying. The money makes it impossible for us to post you. This new system screwed up everyone's plans. But we will double your salary. Since you have to stay, don't hurt the team and the parent company by making us look like a dream-crushing corporation. Tell the press that due to the unexpected change in the posting system, we agreed you'll be posted after 2014."

Now, I have no idea what Masahiro Tanaka is like in person. I can only guess based on watching his postgame interviews, and I'm not sure that's even worth doing. But I'll say anyway that he seems like a standup guy. He seems like a guy who's focused on being the best baseball player he can possibly be.

At that point in the conversation, he could either say to the president of his team, "Okay, I understand, let's win another championship and I'll go after the 2014 season" or he could say, "No, I want to go to MLB now, and if you don't post me, fine, but I'm telling the media that I want to go." If the former, Rakuten is relieved, but we know that's not what happened because Tanaka was very clear that he wants to pitch in the U.S. in 2014.

If the latter, what does Rakuten do?