Must Click Link: Hiroki Kuroda’s Baseball Hell

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Hiroki Kuroda has settled in as a reliable starter for the Yankees in recent weeks, silencing concerns about his ability to adjust to the rough-and-tough AL East. As it turns out, switching leagues is hardly the toughest thing he’s had to endure in his baseball career. David Waldstein of The NY Times published a piece looking at Kuroda’s baseball upbringing in old school Japan, where physical abuse was an accepted and common form of punishment for failing at a game based on failure. It’s a great and in its own way, a terrifying read. Check it out, it gets RAB’s highest level of recommendation.

Sanchez homers in Sojo's record-breaking win
Mailbag: Martin, Shoppach, Bourjos, Choo
  • Will The Thrill

    I just read it. I already have respect for Kuroda but now it’s gone to another level. How anyone can come out of that sane is amazing to me. Screw a Josh Hamilton movie, Hiroki’s story is as tragic and inspiring as they come!


    • Freddy’s Mom

      Will, you took the words out of my keyboard (minus the shot at Hamilton, though I somewhat agree with that too). Loved this story and Kuroda is my new hero.

  • Nathan

    Wow…just wow. Before this year, the only thing I knew of Kuroda was that he was a very good pitcher for the Dodgers, from Japan and saw him play when the Dodgers played against the Giants (I’m in the Bay Area). I’ve learned a lot about him this year and this article has given me a better understanding and more added respect for the guy, not just as a ball player but as a human who endured so much.

  • pat

    Sounds pretty bad, but it’s made him into the man he is today. A man who is one of the best pitchers in the entire world and very handsomely paid as well. Not a bad trade off.

    • Darren

      Would you take that trade-off? Basically a totally shitty childhood and every time you played baseball you got physicallyu and mentally abused?

      If you say yes, I feel sorry for you.

      And think about the hundreds of thousands of kids who got abused and never made a cent from baseball? Was it worth it for them?

      The idea that physical abuse toughens you up and “makes you into a man” is a complete fallacy and a concept that the ignorant and very stupid continue to believe in.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Easy for, um, both of you to say.

  • Rich in NJ

    It’s like boot camp meets the twilight zone.

  • Cuso

    Yeah, Valentine might be trying to be ironic/cute. He comes across as a dickbag for that comment.

    • captain kiwi

      yeah. i read that line a few times, trying to cut him some slack, and he still just sounded like a dirtbag.

    • Brian S.

      I hope we get him booed again.

    • CS Yankee

      Agreed, poor response to an abusive culture or sub-culture in b aseball over there. The man has been through hell and in no way will the pressure of the AL-E affect his pitching.

      He has been our ace his year, less maybe 3- 4 starts earlier.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        More like some sort of cultural anomie where he spent so much time there and, probably, heard so many stories like this, that he’s jaded enough to think it’s OK for some dumb white to joke around about it. That is so NOT OK.

        What a prick.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          “dumb white guy”

        • Cuso

          this is the sense I got, too.

          Bad taste. Apparently he’s not as smart as he thinks he is.

    • I am not the droids you’re looking for…

      Totally agrees. Douche was the first word that came to mind. Then asshole.

  • Gonzo

    Yeah, this is a must read. How could you not root for the guy. I guess this might be why he wasn’t scared of the AL East at this stage of his career.

    I assume Dice-K and Darvish had better treatment, but I wonder how much better.

  • Anthony

    What a great read. Not going to look at Kuroda the same. Must be a strong personality under those pinstripes. Thanks for this.

  • Chris

    Incredible. My respect for this man just went through the roof.

  • yankees=warriors

    That’s how school works in asian countries.
    It’s not that common these days, but physical abuse lasted from elementary school to middle school for me (I graduated from college last year). The perfect score for tests here is 100, and we all used to get hit on the hands (with a ruler or stick) for every deducted point.
    Sometimes you get beat because you didn’t do your homework, talked too much in class or didn’t get your hair cut properly (we used to have regulations here about how we should keep our hair in school).
    Funny thing is, I don’t hate my teachers for having beaten me. I also think it made me a better student.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I really appreciate you sharing that. Perception of culture is incredibly complicated always.

  • TomH

    Sounds like the training in the 1930s Imperial Army and Imperial Navy.

    • I am not the droids you’re looking for…

      Also had this thought. I’m more of an ETO buff but from what reading I’ve done of the PTO this is exactly what came to mind. Surrender = death.


      Poor guy.

  • Yank The Frank

    Hiro really is a hero.