Are American managers ruining MLB? And does it matter?
by Bob Timmermann
Robert Whiting continues his series in the Japan Times about the problems of Japanese pro baseball (NPB). In this article, he discusses the influence of American managers on the game in Japan.
Presently, 1/3 of the managers in Japan (i.e. four) are Americans: Trey Collins of Nippon Ham, Bobby Valentine of Lotte, Terry Collins of Orix, and Marty Brown of Hiroshima.
At the end of the season, an NHK news announcer lauded Hillman for understanding the Japanese way, saying, "Hillman-san is the first American manager ever to make the switch from besuboru to yakyu."
Given the viewing audience, it was praise of the highest sort.
The signing of the gaijin kantoku Collins meant that one-third of Japan's pro managers were born in the United States, and not everyone in Japan was elated with this state of affairs.
Former pitching great Yutaka Enatsu, in a scathing interview in the Shukan Asahi last October, felt the limits had been reached.
He charged that gaijin managers do not understand the treasured Japanese concepts of giri (duty) and ninjo (humanity), in deciding which players to keep and which ones to cast aside.
Continually using gaijin kantoku, he moaned, means you cannot raise Japanese kantoku, adding that, "Just because Valentine kantoku won a Japan Series, doesn't mean he was without his faults. If you ask behind the scenes, you will hear lots of criticism."
Sounds like Yutaka Enatsu is Japanese for "Bill Plaschke."