These past few years have been pretty boring as a Hokkaido Nippon- Ham Fighters fan. Losing Shohei Ohtani was a big blow, but one that every Fighters fan knew was coming. Still, following his exit to the Major League Baseball ranks the team quickly entered the realm of cellar dweller. Outside of my Wang Po-jung fandom, there hasn’t been much of any reason to care about the team beyond how badly they were playing on any given day. Even when the news of Sho Nakata’s bullying antics broke, I wasn’t compelled to care more about the Fighters, if anything it made me care even less.
When word started to spread that the next Fighters manager was to be Tsuyoshi Shinjo I wasn’t sure what it meant for me as a fan. In terms of winning, we still have no idea what his tenure will mean and there’s every possibility that he will lose, lose some more, and then keep on losing all the way to being fired. However, his introductory press conference makes one thing perfectly clear, things will at least be interesting as long as the Big Boss is in charge.
During a raucous press conference that various reporters have made feel more like theater than anything baseball-related Shinjo unveiled all kinds of nuggets of Shinjo-ness while looking as dapper as Cosmo Kramer. The ideas ran from the absurd; allowing fans to vote on the batting order, to the delightful; Shinjo informing the media that he doesn’t want to be referred to as the manager, but rather as the Big Boss. In between, there was talk of his desire to turn his players into celebrities and of his ability to bring methods for scoring runs to the team that other baseball minds aren’t capable of comprehending.
For some, the press conference and Shinjo’s antics weren’t, and aren’t, welcome. To those people I say, calm down and enjoy the ride. There are only two possible avenues for the Fighters to travel down while Shinjo is at the helm. Either his antics will be in support of a bad team and Shinjo will see the door sooner rather than later. Or, his methods will work and the Fighters will win while having the most exciting manager in all of professional baseball calling the shots. I’m more inclined to believe it will be the former, but even if it is at least I know that I’ll have a reason to be excited for the Fighters for a couple of years.
The name of the game in baseball is winning, but it’s also to entertain. Of course, I want the Fighters to win and I will be frustrated if they don’t win. However, if the Big Boss means I am at the very least entertained then I will take that over a boring team doing all the same things as every other losing team in baseball. The fact that Shinjo is already handing out business cards that refer to him as the Big Boss of the Fighters leads me to believe I am going to be plenty entertained the next few years.
Lead photo courtesy of Unknown – Kyodo News