Transplanted Japanese phenoms are no foreign concept in baseball. Ichiro and Hideo Nomo are two of the bigger profile names, but even this season, despite hitting .229 with a .6354 OPS and getting demoted to the minors, Munenori Kawasaki was one of the most popular players in Toronto.
But as much as a crowd loves going crazy for the back-twisting, missile-chucking style of a star, the players may love it the attention right back. Not Ichiro and Nomo, necessarily, but the theory exists nonetheless.
Masahiro Tanaka has been the darling of Japanese imports this winter, and after a prolonged soap opera in which his team begged him to stay and he told them he wanted to go to MLB, he'll likely be choosing a team next week. But what helps motivate a desire to make the change, other than the competition and money?
"Some elite Japanese players prefer to be the sole Japanese star on their North American club, major league executives say." -@Ken_Rosenthal— Joe Giglio (@JoeGiglioSports) January 3, 2014