It finally happened. At approximately 7:10PM, in Arlington, TX, Yu Darvish faced Ichiro Suzuki. A zillion members of the Japanese press corp were all over the home of the American League champions. Batting third in the Seattle line-up, Ichiro, in typical form, slapped a single into shallow left field and pushed the runner up a base. Darvish, clearly excited about his Major League pitching debut after a successful career in the Pacific League in Japan, was rocked with four runs in the first and one in the second before he began to settle down.
In the end, the Texas Rangers beat the Seattle Mariners 11-5.
In the end, Ichiro went 3 for 5.
In the end, Darvish gained his first win in The Show.
The magnetic pitcher worked 5 2/3rds innings giving up 8 hits, 5 earned runs, walked four, struck out 5 while throwing 110 pitches. Perhaps not great by his lofty standards, but it was his debut.
The big story was the media coverage. 100 Japanese media members were in Arizona for Darvish’s first spring training workout in February. There were 80 assigned to Darvish at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on Monday night. There were six Japanese radio and television networks, two wire services and 15 newspapers covering the game.
Ichiro Suzuki, the Mariners’ outfielder in his 12th season, brought a similar four score of media members.
What other sport from what other country would cover a single season event to this magnitude?
That question will probably never be answered. But for a bright moment in Arlington, Texas, baseball was covered and brought back to Japan, Dallas and Seattle like nothing else.