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Babe Ruth 2049

Forget the bullpen cart, Nippon-Ham Fighters manager Tsuyoshi "BIG BOSS" Shinjo just entered the game on a freaking hovercraft

March 29, 2022

There is no hotter commodity in Nippon Professional Baseball right now than Tsuyoshi Shinjo. Despite being the first-ever Japanese player to appear in a World Series game, Shinjo was never the caliber of a Suzuki or an Ohtani. After three seasons in the majors, he was demoted to triple A and eventually returned to Japan to finish out his career as a role player. But instead of fading into obscurity, something miraculous happened. Along the way, Shinjo became a national celebrity, starting his own clothing line, starring on TV (including winning the Japanese version of 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?'), and claiming his first and only Japan Series title in his final game as a professional player.

To call Shinjo’s career “unorthodox” would be the understatement of the century, and thus, to the surprise of absolutely no one, his NPB managerial career has picked up right where his playing career left off. This offseason, Shinjo was named manager of the Nippon-Ham Fighters. He quickly made waves by registering “BIG BOSS” as his official name, and on Opening Day he steered into that bit as hard as he could with one of the most memorable entrances in baseball history.

Or at least it was one of the most memorable entrances in baseball history until Big Boss went ahead and one-upped himself on Tuesday, soaring around the stadium on a literal hovercraft before the Fighters' game agianst the Seibu Lions. Baseball fans of earth, we promise you’ve never seen anything like this before.

Can you imagine Dusty Baker doing this? Well, actually yes, you probably can imagine Dusty doing this, but that’s beside the point. It would NEVER happen. Not if hell turned into a hockey rink. Not if your bacon stood up and flew away. Major League Baseball could barely be convinced to play baseball this year, and once they were the first order of business was to start tinkering with the placement of second base inch by excruciating inch. This what baseball in America is right now; hand-wringing and self-sabotage with not a single hovercraft in sight.

Now we’re not saying BIG BOSS’ antics are working. The Nippon Ham-Fighters are 0-4 this season and got shutout 4-0 by Seibu after his science-fiction display on Tuesday. But there’s a lesson to be learned here: Baseball is a game and games are supposed to be fun. Whaddya say, Dusty? Ready to go for a ride?