Questions About Yu Darvish

December 20, 2011

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Last night, the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters formally accepted an $51.7 offer from the Texas Rangers. This gives the Rangers an exclusive 30 day window to negotiate a contract with Darvish.

But didn’t Darvish get $51.7 million?

No, his team got $51.7 million.  More accurately, his team gets $51.7 million if Darvish and the Rangers reach an agreement.  If Darvish doesn’t sign with the Rangers, the Fighters get nothing.

Why is the team getting fifty million bucks?  Because they are allowing Darvish to leave with two years remaining on his contract.  They are being compensated for the loss of his services.

How much will Yu get?

Almost certainly in excess of $50 million, as he has a strong desire to surpass the deal Daisuke Matsuzaka signed with the Boston Red Sox.  It’s quite possible that he will end up signing a six year deal worth around $75 million, bring the total cost to the Rangers to around $125 million.

I’d be very surprised if the length of the deal was shorter than six years, as six years would buy out Yu’s arbitration years.

Can the Fighters help?

If Darvish and the Rangers end up a few million dollars apart, the logical thing would be for the Fighters to kick in the extra cash to make sure the deal gets done – otherwise they’d risk losing the $51.7 million fee.

However, this is not allowed.

Is he worth the money?

That’s the $125 million question.  Japanese pitchers have had a spotty performance record in MLB.  Part of this is due to the fact that it can be difficult to judge talent when they are playing against Japanese hitters who are a notch below MLB players (but still very good players).  Also, Japan uses smaller baseballs than the US, so there’s an actual physical adjustment.

There are inevitable comparisons to Matsuzaka, but I think Darvish stands to be a better pitcher in MLB than Matsuzaka.  Althought Matsuzaka’s numbers in Japan were very good (108-60, 2.95 ERA), Darvish has been phenomenal, with a 93-38 record and a 1.99 ERA.  Darvish, at 6’5″, is also nearly a half foot taller than Matsuzaka.  (If that seems really tall for a Japanese player, it might be worth pointing out the fact that Yu’s dad is from Iran).

What this all boils down to is that Darvish will likely cost the Rangers a total of $16 to $20 million per year for the duration of his contract (counting the money paid to Darvish and well as the money paid to the Fighters.)  That’s a lot of money, but there won’t be any other cost associated with the signing.  They won’t have to give up prospects in a trade, surrender draft picks by signing a free agent, or even use their own draft pick on him. 

The Rangers were trying to plug the hole left by the departure of C.J. Wilson.  With the acquisition of closer Joe Nathan allowing Neftali Feliz to join the rotation, and now the possible addition of Darvish to the mix, the Rangers should again be a force to be reckoned with – although the Angels, fortified by the addition of Wilson as well as Albert Pujols, should also be a great team.

What’s a Ham Fighter?

The Ham Fighter is a cornerstone of Japanese mythology.  The ham fighter is a pig who takes a sword and shield into battle alongside brave samurai …

Are you believing any of this?  No?

OK, let’s look at the team’s name: Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters.

  • Hokkaido – This is the location of the team.  Hokkaido is the norternmost of Japans four largest islands.
  • Nippon Ham – This is the company that owns the team.  They sell meat, most notably ham. Nippon is Japanese for “Japan”.
  • Fighters – This is the team’s name, equivalent to “Cubs” or “Yankees” for MLB teams.  Calling the team the Ham Fighters is just silly.

How much will Yu’s wife get?

Yu is in the midst of a divorce.  However, I know nothing about Japanese divorce law, so I have no idea how much his wife could get.

Can I buy a “I heart Yu” shirt?


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Obama’s Bracket-gate and Japan’s Katrina

March 17, 2011

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You would think that a woman who named her children Liam, Sean and Brendan would write something about St. Patrick’s Day or the Irish heritage of our leaders … but there is something more pressing I have to write about.

Obama, take note. When things are more important than what you want to do, you do the important things first.

With the earthquake and Tsunami in Japan, as a world leader, our leader should be, oh, I don’t know, leading? But what was he doing? Filling out his NCAA March Madness Brackets on ESPN. Really? Really? Come on.

Now, I’m not anti-sports by any means. I’m planning on being in a few brackets myself. But for the “Leader” to take time to appear on ESPN and fill out his brackets? I don’t care if it was scheduled before the disaster in Japan. There are things you do and don’t do when a disaster like the one in Japan strikes.

As Josiah Charles Stamp said, “It is easy to dodge our responsibilities, but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging our responsibilities.” Come on, Obama. Lead. Don’t focus on picking your sweet sixteen. That’s not leading. That’s dodging.

Speaking of Japan, I think Americans need to take note. The comparisons between the response to the earthquake and tsunami and Hurricane Katrina have been made. They’ve actually called this Japan’s Katrina. But I think the Japanese are handling this A LOT better than those effected by Katrina are handling it.

The Japanese had NO warning of the earthquake and tsunami. Those in New Orleans had DAYS of notice of the hurricane approaching.

People in Japan are helping each other. People in New Orleans were shooting each other.

There has been NO looting. There has been NO destruction of rescue centers. In New Orleans? Looting. Cases of rape, public urination and destruction of the Super Dome.

Japanese people are waiting, patiently in line, for food and water. New Orleans? People were shouting “Where’s the Government?” and using their pre-paid Visa cards for strip clubs. Some people are STILL living in FEMA trailers.

Come on, Americans. We’re the Country known for pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. We need to take a look at how the Japanese are handling this situation and, God forbid if another natural disaster occurs in the United States we should follow suit.

It’s not all Americans I’m talking about. I live in Iowa. The last few years we’ve suffered through floods and natural disasters of our own. Are we having fundraisers for our disaster? Is the news broadcasting tornadoes five years later? No. Because we can take care of ourselves and our neighbors WITHOUT the Government handing us EVERYTHING.

Some may say, “Well, the Japanese live on fault lines, they should expect an earthquake.” Okay, sure. But New Orleans is a bowl surrounded by soup. What do you expect is going to happen?

I’m impressed at how the Japanese people are dealing with this disaster … and the disaster continues with the nuclear reactors melting down. And yet? Calm.

I know some people are probably thinking, “this white girl from Iowa is racist.” That couldn’t be further from the truth. Not everything comes down to race. It does come down to personal responsibility. Be responsible for yourself and your family. Only you can control your actions and reactions. You can’t always control what happens to you, but you can control how you react to events that happen to you.

So, I say, take responsibility for your actions. Obama? Be a President. Sure, you can fill out your brackets but do it AFTER you’ve commented on the situations in the world and AFTER you’ve discussed your plans to help those in need. Don’t have enough time? Don’t go on National TV with your brackets. Responsibility.

If a natural disaster occurs, I ask my fellow Americans to follow the Japanese’s example of civility, responsibility and calmness. We are an advanced nation, as is Japan. We should act as such.

How To Respond to a Massive Earthquake?

March 14, 2011

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God has once again shown who is in charge. Men build a nuclear power plant to withstand an 8.0 earthquake, and here comes a 9.0. And just for the fun of it, let’s have a 20 foot tsunami to overcome that 15 foot sea barrier.

The earthquake and tsunami in Japan over the weekend are a tragic disaster of monumental scale. The fact that only about 3000 people are dead or missing is just amazing. My prayers go out to all who are affected. I only know a few people who are in Japan right now, and they have all called in to let us know that they are all right. I am so glad to see the offering of aid and the gracious acceptance of that aid.

To me, the next thing to do is start rebuilding and help recover or prevent additional damage at the nuclear power plants. To the broadcast news, the next thing to do is stop nuclear energy and investigate why the Japanese government was not ready for this disaster. Really? Ready for a 9.0 earthquake and almost instant tsunami? Really? Instead of criticizing and taking up valuable resources to be “on the scene” they should be supporting and helping. There will be plenty of time to assign blame to any part of the event or recovery over the next months and years.

At the same time they are criticizing Japan, who in my opinion is responding courageously to this event, the broadcast news is bewailing the damage done on the west coast of the United States. Although the losses there are regrettable, they are less understandable. The west coast had more than 8 hours to prepare. I am no expert in how to get ready for a tsunami, but the people in Hawaii seemed to do alright by getting the ships and boats out to sea. Granted, there was not much that could have been done to save or protect the shore structures (docks and lifts, etc), but the boats seem a senseless loss. I have not heard, but I hope no one was injured or killed in any of the other areas affected by the tsunami.

Can we truly prepare for a natural event of this magnitude? In some small ways we can mitigate the consequences of the event, yes. I think that Japan has shown that. Compare the impact of this earthquake and tsunami to the one that hid Indonesia just a few years ago. Japan has used their wealth to provide as much of a buffer against nature for her people as is humanly possible today. Knowing how Japan responds to these events, we as a world will learn from this event and be able to do much more to protect our people and property in the face of future disasters.