Major League Baseball is returning even though players are catching Coronavirus left and right and the league’s plan for 2020 seems to just be uh, ignore it. But since we are all being conditioned to shrug off death because you people voted in a regime that wouldn’t be qualified enough to get a job pushing carts at your local grocery store let alone running a fucking country, we’re going to play ball, babyyyyy.
In preparation for the dumbest season in the history of history, the Yankees have been slowly ramping up their practices to include intrasquad scrimmages that don’t matter although as a little baseball nerd, I do love seeing Gerrit Cole and Aaron Judge do battle even if there are zero stakes.
In the midst of these one-on-one at-bats, Giancarlo Stanton rocketed a ball directly back into Masahiro Tanaka’s cranium in a brutal video that I won’t share because Gleyber Torres told us not to and I have nothing but respect for MY president.
According to all reports, Tanaka has a mild concussion and is pretty much fine as he ate that baseball to the face like it was a water balloon.
Tanaka has played 6 seasons with the Yankees and is coming off a decent year of 11 wins with a 4.45 ERA in 32 starts in 2019. In a season where seemingly every player injured themselves just getting off the team bus, Tanaka was the model of consistency and endurance.
Masahiro Tanaka was one of the most coveted free agents in modern baseball history as he was without a doubt the best pitcher in Japan prior to arriving in the states.
The young prince set a National Japanese high school baseball record strikeout record by making 258 kids look silly. Worth noting that he surpassed Daisuke Matsuzaka’s record. Laugh out loud. Eat a dick, Boston.
In 2009, he started the season with 4 consecutive complete game wins. He also led Japan to a gold medal in the World Baseball Classic and that was back when we cared about the WBC, for whatever reason.
In his final 2013 season with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, Tanaka went 24-fucking-0 and winning 26 consecutive decisions which was a Nippon Professional Baseball record. He led the league in ERA. He won the MVP Award, won the championship, made their league’s version of All-MLB team and was unequivocally the best pitcher on planet Earth.
And in the winter of 2014, he agreed to a 7-year $155 million deal which was the most expensive deal given to a Japanese player in MLB history. Yet still feels like he took a pay cut. From that moment on he has been a warrior and easily the only shining light in a postseason littered with team failures.
Masahiro Tanaka has pitched 46 playoff innings. He’s allowed just 9 earned runs in 8 starts giving him a 1.76 ERA which is 12th all-time in postseason history for pitchers with at least 4 innings under their belt. 37 strikeouts to just 11 walks. King shit.
And literally ALL of that postseason dominance happened after partially tearing his UCL in 2014 and missing 2 and 1/2 months but electing to not get Tommy John surgery which means his elbow has pretty much been hanging on by a thread for his entire Yankees career.
He also gave my favorite quote about his elbow:
“I’m not conscious of it. I don’t exercise the elbow more so than other things. I don’t do anything special specifically for the elbow.”
This legend doesn’t even care that his arm could fall off and slap the pitcher’s mound after any given pitch. My man doesn’t even focus on it while stretching. All he cares about is pitching scoreless innings and winning games. He’ll amputate that shit later.
So it should surprise no one that Tanaka took a Giancarlo Stanton line drive to the dome and walked it off as if a fly landed on his forehead.
Masahiro Tanaka is a god among men and we don’t deserve him.