Secret reason why the Yankees signed Mashiro Tanaka
Earlier this week, the New York Yankees added Japanese right-handed pitcher Mashiro Tanaka to their less than stellar starting pitching rotation. The contract is for seven years and will cost the Bronx Bombers $155 Million; Tanaka does have an opt out clause after the fourth year of the deal. The full deal would be one of the richest ever signed by a pitcher in major league history.
The 25-year-old pitcher has put up impressive numbers in his seven seasons pitching for the Rakuten Golden Eagles, in 175 games, Tanaka as posted a 99-35 record with a 2.30 ERA with 1,238 strikeouts. The 6’ 2”, 205 pitcher keeps his fastball in the low 90’s but can dial it up to 97 MPH when needed and also throws a curveball, slider, change-up and cutter; however his second best pitch is his split-fingered fastball considered to be one of the best anywhere, in any league.
There is, however, a very secret reason why the Yankees wanted Mashiro Tanaka, her name is Mai Satoda and she is the newlywed wife of their new pitcher. Mai is a pop star in Japan and has been since appearing on “Quiz! Hexagon”, a game show along the lines of “Jeopardy”. Strangely enough, Mai’s charm comes from her being asked questions and getting them wrong, so badly wrong in fact, that the public finds her cute and comical. Mai was also in a music group called Country Musume (which translates to Country Girls) which was born in 1999 and was around for a few years; the group folded before Mai got her big break on “Quiz! Hexagon” Mai is four and half years older than her husband, turning 30 at the end of March, just in time for the start of the 2014 Major League Baseball season. It will be interesting to see if Mai joins her husband in Japan during the season and if she becomes poplar with fans in the United States as Yankees fans want to see their new pitcher become.
The New York Yankees have always done an impressive job of marketing their Japanese players to the large Japanese population of New York City and the surrounding region. The Yankees; best star from the Land of the Rising Sun was Hideki Matsui who played for them seven years and saw him win the 2009 World Series MVP in his final year with the team. Matsui signed a one day contract with the team last summer who he could retire from the majors as a Yankees.
The Pinstripers have not done as well signing Japanese pitchers; a trend they hope to change with their new import, Mashiro Tanaka. The Yankees will add him to a shaky rotation and hope he will be a #3 or even a #2 level major league starter, at least to start the season; if he is as good as advertised, perhaps he will grow into a #1 starter. They will have at least four years to find out how good he really is pitching on this side of the world against the best baseball players in the world.