The Nippon Ham Fighters, seeking to make a splash in the Pacific League, announced Tsuyoshi Shinjo as their new skipper last week. Mission accomplished. A former outfielder who played a combined 303 Major League games with the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants from 2001-2003, showed up to the press conference looking Johnny Depp auditioning for Todd Phillps' The Joker. And asking to be called Big Boss like an international version of George Steinbrenner.
They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression and this bit should serve as evidence that a person can become an instant legend.
Need to know more about Shinjo? Kyodo News offers this instructive snapshot:
Blessed with speed, a strong arm and raw home run power, Shinjo played the game with flair, becoming a colorful celebrity from his early years with the Tigers.
Having earned the moniker "the Prince," Shinjo publicly feuded with one Tigers' manager, Taira Fujita, over his perceived poor treatment, prompting a retirement announcement that he later retracted.
Although he hustled, Shinjo also strayed from the stoic image cultivated by Japanese baseball, with his tendency for unexpected pronouncements and actions yielding another nickname -- "Spaceman."
His arrival at the Fighters injected the long colorless franchise with personality, which the team embraced, once having him make his entrance at Sapporo Dome by being lowered to the field from the catwalks near the ceiling.
Hell yes. Bill Lee and Bill Veeck all wrapped into one. Dude is going to cook up so much interesting stuff and inevitably cause chaos while ultimately putting butts in the seats.
Ham has floundered to fifth-place finishes in the six-team league in each of the past three seasons. But that's all distant memory with Big Boss in charge. If nothing else, the sport is about to get more fashionable. Shinjo should immediately petition to be allowed to wear whatever the hell he wants in the dugout because each time he puts on a uniform is a missed opportunity.