|As they say, all good things come
to an end at some point and the same is true of this site.
When I began this project, it was to help educate the American public and any other interested parties about Japanese baseball. It's had its ups and downs to be sure, but I think I've been pretty successful at it I stopped doing daily reports because of the time and energy that took interfered with my other interests. Now I will cease updating this site after I aggregate all the stats of the 2012 season and then I will close the site at the termination of the 2013 campaign.
Because the banner which started with Robert Whiting, Jim Allen and Michael Westbay has now been picked up by others, who are doing a better job with it than I can, this site is becoming increasingly redundant. Also, I just don't really have near the degree of interest in the subject I once did and, since I'm getting on in years, which gives me less energy to do this, it is for the best that I sunset Japan Baseball Daily.
I felt it would be unfair to just make this site disappear suddenly, so I opted for a long downslope for those who may find what I have here useful in some way.
Thank you to everybody who has not just come to this site, but provided kind words for me, be it fans, players, agents, scouts, front office people, reporters, etc. It has been a worthy endeavor, I think, and I'm ultimately glad I undertook it. To be sure, I wish I had the wherewithal to ameliorate this site's shortcomings, but oh well, that's water under the bridge now.
|One of the biggest reasons I like
Bobby Valentine is that he is a forthright guy who says what's on his mind
and leaves it up to you to either accept it or not. Unfortunately, the
main thing that a lot of people in major league baseball hate about him
is that he is a forthright guy who says what's on his mind and leaves it
up to you to accept it or not. That will keep him from ever having any
real shot at being the next commissioner (much as how team owners
don't see Mark Cuban, who I run hot and cold on because he often acts like
an adolescent, as ownership material despite what he has done with his
NBA franchise) , but that is a huge mistake on baseball's part because
while you can loathe him for being unwilling to kiss the asses of pompous
billionaire dickheads who view the sport as little more than a shakedown
racket enabled by overgrown children and a slobbering media, he is the
only, and I mean THE ONLY, one with enough vision, the right kind of experience
and the intellect to lead MLB into its brave new world of globalization.
The fact is that MLB largely views the world like 1890's imperialists did. They want to move in, take it over and drain it of every last economic resource to add to what they already have at home. Treating the KBO or NPB or the CPBL like equals? Are you kidding? What, are you a Communist? Bud Selig and his putative bosses are largely a bunch of boors who still contemplate the world through the prism of an era long gone by. This results in a lot of hurt feelings when MLB ventures overseas and opportunities are missed along with that. They haven't been willing to work with the sports fan base in the U.S. and have displayed a continual public relations tin ear (the satellite tv deal, maddening blackout policies and charging for content on MLB.com are three examples of counterproductive shortsightedness). So if they are that arrogant and dismissive toward the folks at home who make the existence of their teams possible, and you couple that with their exploitative outlook vis a vis foreign markets, then there is little motivation to use more diplomatic means to achieve their objectives. That bull in a china shop approach engenders resistance and resentment.
This is where Valentine comes in. As much as Valentine's belief in himself turns some people off, he is usually right. Not only that, but he also knows when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em when it comes to business matters. Yeah, in the office, you're going to get a lot of unvarnished uh, how should I put this, frank opinion from him. But he will also be your greatest cheerleader if he believes in you. He is just trying to improve the organization, agree or disagree with him.
But when it comes to organizing business transactions, Valentine, who is a businessman himself in addition to his job in baseball, has learned how to be a first class diplomat, a quality nobody, and I mean nobody, in MLB has with regard to Asia. He is willing to separate his immediate needs with what will facilitate the best result for everyone concerned because, if you don't help your business partners in Asia build face, you will soon find yourself hearing muzukashii a lot (which is how Japanese, who prefer indirection, say, "nope, not going to happen;" the word itself literally means, "that's difficult") or Korean or Mandarin equivalents to it. By managing in Japan and learning how to work the language and business angles there in addition to his success in the dugout, he has become something of a cult figure. Bobby now has face in Japan, Jim Small does not. He has learned patience because change moves slowly in Japan due to Japanese being naturally risk averse. Negotiations are set up through back channels, opinions aired and details knocked out before the actual public meeting happens so that everybody knows what is going to happen, which means nobody gets hung out to dry and loses face. MLB's stance is more confrontational and typically western, which Asians tend to find rude and insulting.
Valentine not only has face though, he is kao ga hiroi, which means he pretty much knows, or has a working knowledge of, anybody who is anybody in Japanese baseball and just his name will get him through many doors that would be closed to other MLB execs. Similarly, most of those same rules apply in Korea, too. China and Taiwan are harder nuts to crack and their business cultures much rowdier and byztantine. But because the CPBL knows Valentine through what he has done with the Chiba Lotte Marines he already carries with him respect from them that any other MLB person would not.
So even as he might have engendered some antipathy for being so outspoken in the U.S., he knows when to change his attitude and massage the other parties to get something done in business matters. The fact is, too, that MLB needs to start helping NPB, the KBO and the CPBL market themselves in the U.S. to allay fears in some quarters in Japan that MLB is trying to destroy their local leagues. MLB has no idea how to do that. Valentine, with his enthusiasm for the Japanese game, could help make that happen in a big way and not only would Japanese baseball benefit, but so would baseball fans everywhere. It could also be that he could nudge the fossils that run NPB into a kind of glasnost (though that is EXTREMELY optimistic) so that quality of play in that league will improve to the extent that, at some point in the near future, it will become just as good as MLB.
A strong rival foreign league would make baseball here all the more intriguing plus it would get Asian-Americans more involved in the sport in the states. It is perverse that while MLB teams have catered to the Japanese tourist trade, they have done little or no marketing to Asian-Americans in the U.S. That has to change. Again, Valentine's experience gives him the feel for doing that Selig and his minions could only dream of.
Look: MLB has a history of appointing complete nincompoops to be its frontman. From racist and laughably incompetent Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis to General William Eckert, who didn't know a baseball from a hole in the ground, to plodding dope Bowie Kuhn and uber-douchebag Selig, this has long seemed to be a position that goes to graduates of clown colleges than actual baseball people with good business judgment and public relations savvy. With Bobhy Valentine, there is a historic opportunity to name someone who has a perfect storm of experience and disposition to guide baseball into a new era. Wouldn't it be great if MLB didn't fuck it up for once?
Besides, it would be fun to see Steve Phillips, the metrosexual attention whore who didn't get along with Valentine because everything had to be about The Steve, spit out the words "commissioner Bobby Valentine" like Gollum on Baseball Tonight? Please, let it come to pass!