Think Harder

It’s easier to prohibit something than to make the alternatives more desirable:

In an effort to dissuade top amateurs from skipping out to play professionally abroad–as corporate league righty Junichi Tazawa has done–Nippon Professional Baseball is studying a plan to ban them from playing on their return to Japan.

One version under consideration would prevent NPB teams from signing players for two or three years after they returned to Japan, depending on their status when they left.

In that scheme, players who left after high school ball, such as Yamaguchi did when he signed a minor league deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks, would be barred from joining an NPB team for three years upon returning to Japan.

I appreciate that NPB wants to stop the talent drain to the U.S., but this rule is idiotic. If a Japanese player is good enough to stick in Major League Baseball, he’s probably not going to be interested in coming back anyway. If a Japanese player is good enough to get a contract with an MLB team but not good enough to stick, NPB should welcome him back if he wants to come home because he’s probably a really damn good player for the NPB and would thus elevate the quality of play. If those players are not allowed back in, they’re going to go to Korea or Mexico or someplace that is not Japan, thereby exacerbating the problem they’re trying to solve.

Jim Allen from the Daily Yomiuri hits it right on the nose:

Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail and NPB will elect not to throw the babies out with the bath water.

The only way to curb the talent drain is to raise the game. This, however, is a vast, complex undertaking. It’s much, much easier to make rules, even if they lead nowhere and turn out to be counterproductive . . . It’s not enough that NPB uses a draft to deny amateurs the right to sell their services to the highest bidder. Some now want to punish those who aim for a higher goal . . . For now, however, the overriding concern seems to be about plugging leaks in an obsolete system rather than building something seaworthy.

(link via WSJ)

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  1. Loztralia said...

    It’s a shame baseball doesn’t have an international competition anyone cares about, as while they don’t stop this kind of player exodus in other sports they do at least offer a counterbalancing effect for the country that’s losing players.

    For instance, in rugby league there is more money to be made playing in England than Australia, and despite numerous attempts to slow the flow there is a constant exodus of players from Australia to England. The end result is that the Australian league is full of Australians, the English league is full of Australians and England hasn’t beaten Australia at rugby league for years.

    For another example, compare the success of the English soccer Premiership in attracting the elite of the world’s talent with the, er, “success” of the England football team. Essentially if you stuff your domestic competition with non-domestic athletes you help reduce the quality of your national team. Not that clubs care about that – there isn’t one that makes even the slightest placatory noises about capping the number of overseas “stars” it will bring in though some have more involvement than others at finding local talent.

  2. Pete Toms said...

    @ Loz. Players go where the money is ( whether that’s good or bad I’m not looking to debate ) and not surprisingly that is also the best league in the world.

    I’m a canuck.  Most NHL cities are in the US and a small minority of the players are American. ( Believe me, it irritates plenty of our more insecure canadians )

    As for Nippon baseball….I think the Tazawa story is under reported.  If Japanese players start coming to affiliated ball earlier it will be good for the level of play in MLB.  As it stands now, don’t they have to play several years pro before they can be ” posted “.  Put another way, what if Dice K could have come to MLB at 21 instead of ( I’m guessin and gonna look like a fool for not lookin it up…) 28????

  3. Rob said...

    I wonder what would happen if a NPB team tried to sign a top talent away from the MLB draft.  That’s probably the best way to change this dynamic.

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