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Yu Darvish: Future Star or Major Bust?

Yu Darvishsefad was born on August 16, 1986 in Habikino, Osaka, a town located in Eastern Japan known mostly for their production of grape blends and math whizzes not Major League Baseball players. Yu Darvish, however, defied all odds when he signed a six-year, 60 million dollar contract with the Texas Rangers in January. Now he’ll be living in Arlington, Texas, over 9,500 miles away from his hometown in Japan. Despite a huge fan-base in the Japanese Baseball League, Darvish, like almost all of his predecessors, decided to take his talents to the greener grass of the MLB. As you might presume, the announcement of his departure didn’t go over so well with the thousands of fans who were loyal to him during his seven seasons with the Japanese-based Nippon Ham Fighters. In order to clear up accusations of being the Benedict Arnold of Japanese baseball, Darvish held a stadium press conference in front of a crowd of nearly 10,000. Bleary-eyed fans looked on as Darvish explained his reasoning for leaving his homeland for the MLB. “The evaluation of Japanese players’ ability in the major league has fallen, and I hated that Japan’s baseball is looked down on” said Darvish, “One of the reasons why I’m going is because I disagree with that.” Beyond holding pride in his country, Darvish went on to say he itched for higher competition; and a check for must’ve been $60 million inviting as well.
But the question remains; will Yu Darvish produce in the MLB? It is too soon to know for sure. We’ve seen, time and time again, foreign pitchers fail despite high expectations. The rise and fall of Daisuke (Dice-K) Matsuzaka of the Red Sox and the complete bust of Kei Igawa with the New York Yankees, give reason for doubting Darvish. The differing environments of Japan’s league and America’s league are great, and this increased pressure could very well be to be why many fail. Despite the same dimensions of the field, the MLB’s pace, style, and atmosphere differ completely which seems to discombobulate many Japanese players. Just as Darvish explained, the value and perception of Japanese players has gone down in the past decade. But every once in a while there is a player who will come over and truly become a star, beloved by the fans in the U.S. and Japan. A few examples of this are Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui who have both had long and successful careers in the Majors.
Adjusting the atmosphere in Arlington will be difficult as the hot, muggy nights in July can be tough to pitch in and the pressure will be on before an average home crowd of over 36,000. Not to mention Darvish could potentially be facing a man named Albert Pujols and the division rival Angels (a great offensive team) about 19 times in a season. Under all this speculation and expectation, it’s up to the Rangers and Darvish to answer this one question: Will Yu make it in the MLB?



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