I really didn’t think I needed to write this article. I really didn’t think I’d let the awful commentary on social media get to me. I figured it would die down after a few days. I was wrong. Very wrong. For having signed two notable named Asian players, Twins Territory (and what I hope is a very vocal minority[see what I did there?]) sure is up-in-arms about potentially signing two more.
With the news of the Twins actively pursuing both Yu Darvish (who comes with his own set of health concerns) and Shohei Ohtani (a young Japanese phenom who can pitch and hit), there seems to be a few comments on every article or Twitter comment thread about the fears of signing another Asian ballplayer.
For being one of the largest continents on the planet (even encompassing parts of Russia), Asia is made up of 48 different countries. Some of the bigger countries of note are China, Russia, India, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and South Korea. Huh. There are a lot of countries in Asia where the people who reside there sure don’t look alike. In fact, they don’t even speak the same language or share a government.
But for Twins fans, it’s been an almost daily occurrence where some Rube (see: casually racist social media user) has made a comment about not taking a chance on another Asian ballplayer since Tsuyoshi Nishioka and ByungHo Park didn’t pan out in the major leagues.
Injuries aside, and the fact that they “look alike” (which they don’t at all, unless you just see a tan skinned person with black hair who comes from the same continent and assume they’re from the exact same place), the Twins have the potential to sign a possible once-in-a-lifetime player in Shohei Ohtani, and a 4-time All Star in Yu Darvish. Improvements to the one part of the team Twins fans have complained about improving for almost a decade: pitching.
I jumped ahead though. Let’s go back to Nishioka and Park. Nishioka is a Japanese baseball player who plays in the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization, based in Japan. Byung-Ho Park is a Korean baseball player who plays in the Korean Baseball Organization, based in Korea. While those two countries are relatively close to each other, they are not the same.
Neither are the Caucasian, Latino, and African ballplayers that have come through the Twins’ organization over the years, in much larger quantities too. Some Twins fans are now basing their choice to not pursue Ohtani specifically, based on the fact Nishioka and Park didn’t work out. Seems like an incredibly small sample size to base your opinion on, and it also comes off as racist. I don’t see these same people crying wolf that the Twins shouldn’t have chased after Royce Lewis, Hunter Greene, or Brendan McKay based on the fact that former Caucasian and African-American players didn’t pan out. If it didn’t matter then, why should it matter where Ohtani comes from?
The Twins have an opportunity to sign a superstar ballplayer to join an already impressive young core of talent from the across the planet. Take a look at the Twins’ 25-man roster this season and see what countries all of the players that helped contribute to a postseason berth for the first time since 2010 call home. After you’ve done that, find it in yourself to consciously stop using the “Nishioka and Park” argument against signing Ohtani. If you’re incapable of doing so because you can’t figure out how to say you don’t trust an unproven player with no MiLB or MLB experience (there, I figured it out for you!), then maybe you should keep your awful opinions to yourself.
And no, we don’t all look alike.
– Panda Pete (South Korean)