In Japan baseball shares very few similarities with the way it is done in the United States. Baseball in Japan draws massive audiences and media scrutiny; baseball there is all about tradition and innovation. Japanese pitchers rarely utilize American throwing patterns and often create new pitches and follow-through. On the other hand, Japanese baseball audiences have certain mantras that they sing during games. The biggest link between Japan and baseball is not in history but in the way the game is played. Baseball engages the Japanese public in a discussion regarding social order and traditional leadership; except this discussion takes place on a baseball diamond.
Japanese baseball is perfectly embodied by two players: Pitcher Yu Darvish and legendary outfielder Ichiro Suzuki referred to simply as Ichiro. Darvish, who is half-Iranian, emerged first as a high schooler and went on to become a NPB and MLB All-Star; he has a non-traditional pitching stance and delivers impressive power. Ichiro is widely held as one of the greatest hitters in baseball history, yet he has not hit more than 400 home runs in a career spanning both the top echelons of the NPB and the MLB. Ichiro’s face can be found on countless billboards in Tokyo and Osaka. Yet he is known for being an introverted team player that prioritizes the success of the team over individual feats. His fundamentals are sound; he is agile and will gladly sacrifice a hit for scoring a run. In Japan baseball captures the traditions of the fans and the dynamism of the players. Baseball is intrinsically Japanese, not just in how it is played but the incessant media coverage. Baseball is as Japanese as noodles at the stadium.