Hey, who put the Mentos in my $100M cola contract
=== Wormhole Back In Time Four Months ===
Mr. WBC-san looked okay from the TV screen in spring training. His numbers weren't bad either: he threw 15 innings in Arizona, with 11 whuffs and 3 walks issued. His arm looked reasonably healed up and the radar gun was pleasingly solid.
That's from the TV screen. Down in the dugout they had a full panic on. To them -- by "them" we mean Wedge, Zduriencik, all the catchers, and all the opposing hitters -- Iwakuma looked like a batting-practice pitcher.
As Geoffy finally disclosed later in the year, the guys in uniform believed that nobody respected Iwakuma's fastball. Zduriencik, as the report goes, grabbed a seat behind home plate to see for himself. He watched a few innings, shook his head sadly, and wandered away having lost all interest in Mr. WBC-san.
Then Iwakuma went to Japan, having been frozen out of his dream game against the A's, and got blasted by a Japanese team. His fate was sealed. He never threw another inning that mattered.
That was quick. Growf.
=== Wormhole Back In Time Six Months ===
The M's had recruited Iwakuma persistently. Why not? He was one of Japan's true aces, with a full-blown Shuuto game, a wipeout forkball, 92 MPH and all the trimmings.
Many Japanese fans believed that Iwakuma would fare better in MLB than Yu Darvish would - their reasoning was that Darvish lacked the courage to do anything with his offspeed stuff other than to nibble and pick with it. Iwakuma, we were told, had command of five (5) pitches in the zone and could get to an 0 ball, 1 strike count with any of the five pitches.
=== Wormhole Back In Time Eighteen Months ===
The A's won the post for Iwakuma, bidding $15M and offering another $15M for four years. He was insulted by this, wanting a contract offer in excess of $100M. He returned to Japan to wait for free agency and score something comparable to Barry Zito's 7 years, $126M.
When the Mariners, a year later, signed him for $1.5M or whatever it was, we were always going to be talking a "one and done" make-good situation. The tryout year could, perhaps, have gone better for Hisashi. He might not have rated a hunnerd mill, but he had to have been shellshocked that his ML team needed only March 15 to stuff him into an oil barrel, top it off with cement and drop him into the Puget Sound.