January 09, 2007

Kei Sera Sera

Kei Igawa was officially introduced to the media yesterday. Given that the Yanks bid significant cash for his rights, it's sort of amazing how low everyone's expectations are; they HOPE he can be a #5 starter? His stats in Japan were very solid, though, and he's beginning to seem like an interesting guy. Check out this interview in Sports Illustrated: at first he seems, like a True Yankee (TM), single-mindedly determined to avoid any kind of controversy whatsoever:

SI: Hideki Matsui is nicknamed Godzilla. What's your favorite Japanese film monster?
Igawa: I have none.

...SI: The Boston Red Sox made a Mechagodzilla-sized splash this offseason by bidding more than $51 million for the rights to Japanese ace Daisuke Matsuzaka and signing him to a $52 million, six-year contract. Did the hard-line shenanigans of his agent, Scott Boras, hurt Matsuzaka's image in Japan?
Igawa: I have no idea. Please ask Daisuke directly

...SI: Who's your favorite American ballplayer?
Igawa: I have a tremendous respect for all big leaguers. I do not have a particular favorite.

At this point, I felt terrible for the poor interviewer; Randy "Sunshine" Johnson was starting to look voluble in comparison. But then Igawa gets a little offbeat:

SI: How about a personal hero?
Igawa: The goalkeeper for Belgium's national soccer team.

SI: And your favorite historic figure?
Igawa: Mitsukuni Tokugawa, a feudal ruler known for his political influence in the early Edo Period.

The goalkeeper for Belgium's national soccer team? Ladies and gentlemen, we have a pulse! He goes on to say that he spent his first paycheck in Japan on candy, and that he has lost his wallet four times but always had it returned to him (the odds of this happening in New York are... slim). Also, his motto? "Quest."

We also have (from NYYFans.com, link via the excellent comments at Bronx Banter) this list of facts about Igawa, translated from the Japanese. I have no idea how reliable this info is -- either on the original site, or in translation. But we can only pray that some of these, at least, are true:
9.Really wanted to go home to watch “Pride GP” (Note: A Martial art fighting contest) and hence accelerated his pace of pitching.

17.Still a virgin when he turned pro. Manager Nomura ordered him to lose it.

21.When lived in “Village of Tiger Blow” (Dorm for new players and rookies), the dorm supervisor shouted “Go out and have some life!” at him for he always spends all day in his room playing remote control model car. So he started to play remote control HELICOPTER instead.

23.When he was forced to move out of the dorm, he asked his team if he could live in a trailer house in Koshien Stadium’s (home court) parking lot. Of course team rejected that.

27. Didn’t really care about the division title and go back to the dorm to take a nap before the game they clinched. He was called to the field when the team was about to win.

68. Feel ashamed about his large appetite. Eat sukiyaki by facing the wall to feel better.

99. Camp in line to buy DQ8 (a video game) at seven in the morning. Left his contract negotiation to his agent.
Yeah... #27 might not go over too well here. And... "Village of Tiger Blow?" In general, though, I like that he sounds like such a dork. Should be interesting to watch his dynamic with Matsui, who appears to have a very different sort of personality.

This one just confuses me:
31. Not intend to join the division title beer shower. Tried to be unnoticed in the corner of the locker room and happily distributed the beers to all his teammates. Unfortunately he finally got his teammates’ attention and instantly got knocked out by the beer shower. Scheduled appointments for following days were all cancelled because of that. (Note: Igawa is probably the most vulnerable player to alcoholic beverage in the world.)
Are they saying that just being sprayed with beer was enough to incapacitate him for days? Is that even physiologically possible? If some fan in Oakland throws their beer on him, is he going to get drunk?

This could be an interesting year.

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