Waiting for Masahiro

Koji Watanabe

Tuesday. Yep: still waiting.

OMG! WTF! The waiting is over! Er, no. Apparently not quite. Firstly, the actual translation was that Tanaka could not decide - let that be a warning to those who rely on automated translation programs when you've got only 140 characters of context. And secondly, he was apparently discussing his new Twitter avatar, not what MLB team he's going to sign with. Oh, dear. Yay for "sports journalism". I would like to think Tanaka is trolling us, sitting in Tokyo and deliberately choosing ambiguous Japanese phrases for his Tweets, certain in the knowledge that thousands of illiterate (in Japanese) baseball pundits are hanging breathlessly on every kanji.

There's a classic bit of theater called Waiting for Godot, which consists largely of two characters, hanging around, waiting for the titular person to arrive. I trust I'm not spoiling it if I tell you he never shows up. [Clefo could probably tell you a lot more about why this matters, dramatically] I get the feeling that's the situation we're in here, as after a weekend where the chances of us getting Tanaka seemed to be on the upswing, yesterday, the futures market in Masahiro Tanaka D-backs shirts took a sharply downward turn.

I measure this through my own reaction. The less optimistic I am about our chances, the more my thoughts on the topic swing between, "Well, as long as he doesn't go to Los Angeles," and "He's vastly over-rated anyway." Such as the nature of fan doublethink: if Tanaka signs with us, he'll be the best pitcher ever to come from east of the Greenwich meridian [sit down, Bert Blyleven!]. But if we miss out, my mindset will immediately switch to, "They paid how much? No chance he'll  be worth that," and I'll not think about him ever again, except for a retrospective piece in five years, thanking the Cubs for saving us from a disastrous free-agent contract.

The cause for this renewed pessimism largely stems from colleague Chris Cotillo over at MLB Daily Dish, who wrote, "One executive and one agent both cautioned that they don't believe that Tanaka will end up with the Diamondbacks, who looked like one of the favorites for a while. The executive said "it's hard to see them winning it", while the agent added that he believes that "Tanaka doesn't want to go there" and would prefer other markets." though Cotillo cautioned at the end of his piece, "While all this talk makes for good conversation, it's really all just that--- talk.." Indeed: why that executive and agent should be considered well-informed was not mentioned.

Elsewhere, Newsday made a stab at reading the tea-leaves, listing the factors reported as important in Tanaka's decision. #1? "Living near a large Japanese community is apparently important." Well, that's us frak'd, then. However, we fare better in the other categories. "Tanaka may want to go to a team where he would be the lone Japanese star"? Check: Takashi Saito ain't coming back. "Wants to be the ace of the staff"? I think we could put a star on his locker if he wants. And finally, "Wants to win right away"? Er... Let's just say Kevin Towers and Kirk Gibson are right there with the "wanting" thing. Not least because KK is standing behind them, breathing heavily.

And finally, for your amusement, a compilation of 200 Tanaka strikeouts:

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