Yokohama has been bleeding talent like it’s their job. Uchikawa fled to Fukuoka after the 2010 season (and subsequently won a Japan Series Championship), and Murata departed for Yomiuri following another sixth place finish in 2011.
DeNA now owns the team, so maybe rosier times are on the horizon. One possible plus is the fact that Yokohama just snagged the rights to LHP Shugo Fujii. He’s a fourth or fifth starter on many rotations, but he could be a little bit better than that for Yokohama.
And, yes, he used to play for the Swallows. Remember shaggy? I used to love this guy because I occasionally bumped into him under the stadium on one of the five days of the week that he wasn’t starting. He loved the yaki-tori that they sold on the concourse under the bleachers in right, and he had no qualms with walking right up to the counter to grab some.
He played for the Swallows from 2000-07 before being traded to the Hokkaido Fighters. He spent two seasons there and then found himself traded to Yomiuri before the start of the 2010 season. One OK season and one crappy season later, he now finds himself in Yokohama.
At the age of 34, that’s three teams in the Kanto region for Fujii since his debut year in 2000.
That’s definitely a rare feat–three Kanto-based teams in a little over a decade. And this is where the trivia question comes into play.
How many players can you name that have played for at least two Kanto-based teams since 2000?
For the record, the teams that have been located in Kanto since (and including) the 2000 season are the Tokyo Swallows, Saitama Lions, Yokohama Baystars, Chiba Marines, Nippon Ham Fighters (they moved to Hokkaido after the 2003 season), and Yomiuri Giants.
Close but no cigar: Tokyo third base coach, Shiroishi, is quite close to being included in this group. He played for the then Tokyo Dome-bound Nippon Ham Fighters from 1995 until 1997. He then made the move across town to Jingu Stadium before the 1998 season and finally retired in 2009. But he doesn’t count. (And not just because he was a crappy baseball player.)
Trivia: Which players have played for at least two Kanto-based teams since the 2000 season? Post your ideas/answers in the comments section.