Ohtani followed by Senga… Japanese baseball bewitched by American baseball
Japan’s mega-hit exports of baseball to the United States do not cease. 1995 ‘Tornado Peach’ (Nomo), 2001 ‘Samurai Hitting’ (Ichiro), 2018 ‘Two Swords’ (Ohtani). In 2023, ‘Ghost Folkball’ appeared. It flew in front of the batter as fast as a fastball and then disappeared in an instant, hence the modifier ‘Ghost’. The main character is Senga Godai (30), who joined the New York Mets this year. He made his debut in an away game against the Miami Marlins on the 3rd. After starting the mound, he gave up only 3 hits and walks in 5 1/3 innings and struck out 8, leading the team to a 5-1 victory and becoming the winning pitcher
is different from normal forkball. Pokball is usually thrown by holding the ball between the index and middle fingers. Because the fingers are thrown apart, the rotation speed of the ball is significantly reduced. On the other hand, Senga’s ‘Ghost Pokeball’ is different from regular forkballs, as it is thrown with the thumb firmly attached to the ball, so it is faster than the forkball and has a greater fall. Yang Sang-moon, a professional baseball commentator, said, “A normal forkball seems to go through several steps from the hitter’s point of view, but Senga’s ghost forkball suddenly falls as if it disappears right in front of your eyes.” It’s easy,” he said스포츠토토. Senga’s fastball is also fast, reaching an average of 155 km and a maximum of 160 km. Because this fastball and ghost forkball come from the same form, it is difficult for hitters to predict.
Mets teammate Pete Alonso (2019 major league home run king) struck out twice on a ghost forkball in team practice batting and said, “I don’t have the skills to attack that ball. God, I’m so glad he’s on our team.”
Senga seemed nervous in his debut on the 3rd, giving up one run in the first inning, a wild throw, and a double. However, he regained stability after overcoming the ensuing crisis with bases loaded without a run. By the time he got off the mound after holding one out in the fifth, he struck out eight. In all strikeouts, the deciding ball was a ‘ghost forkball’, and all of them withdrew with a miss. Of the 88 Senga threw that day, 26 were ghost forkballs, and 32 were fastballs.
◇Writing Shinhwa as a trainee
Senga did not see the light from the beginning. When he debuted in the Japanese league in 2011, his annual salary was 2.7 million yen. He was a training player (trainee). Until middle school, he played as an infielder before turning to a pitcher, and even after graduating from high school, his name was not on the Japanese professional team’s nomination list. However, the president of a sporting goods store in Nagoya, who was well versed in baseball, introduced him to a Softbank scout, and he was recognized for his potential and stepped onto the professional stage as a 3rd team training player. While not throwing the ball due to the aftermath of an injury during his early high school days when he joined, he focused on strengthening his muscle strength, raising his fastball speed from 140 km to 150 km and gaining competitiveness. In addition, he led Softbank to the Japan Series victory five times while increasing his value by installing the ‘Ghost Poke Ball’ with a large drop. In 2020, he won three Pacific League wins, earned run average, and strikeouts. His 2022 Japanese league salary is 400 million yen. He jumped 148 times in 11 years.
After the 2017 season, when the club’s opposition to the major leagues was canceled, he signed a 5-year contract and added a contract termination clause when entering overseas, burning his dream of challenging the US. After fierce competition from major league clubs, he established a relationship with the Mets, who had not won a championship for 36 years since 1986.
Senga is at the top of the major leagues in terms of ball power. However, in the last 7 years, there have been only two seasons in which he has played more than 150 innings, and his durability is questionable as he has been out of power twice in 2022 due to more than his right elbow. It is for this reason that the Mets included the condition of pitching 400 innings in three seasons in the opt-out clause (allowing players to exercise free agent rights) after 3 years when signing a 5-year contract with Senga.