In this book, Koji Uehara, who has been active in Japan and the United States, has retired from electric shock, having won the most wins with 20 wins in his first year as a professional player, and even after transferring to major league baseball, he has contributed to winning the American League. This is a book that talks about his thoughts on. There was always a baseball life in which he faced the results and looked to retire. As a starter, middleman, and closer, I was able to leave a result of 134 wins, 128 saves, and 104 holds in Japan and the United States because I completed the given place.
Why did Uehara conclude that he would retire from electric shock? Why did you retire in May? In this book, the real conflicts leading up to that point are clearly depicted.
At the same time, as a player who has played in Japanese professional baseball for 12 years and in the major leagues for 9 years, he is enthusiastic about his own baseball philosophy. Based on my student experience and professional experience, I will explain how to achieve results and how to act where results are required in a player's life where you must always confront your goals. I'm instructing you.
Uehara's philosophy, which is particular about the results and has been active on the front lines, will be of great reference not only to those who play baseball but also to those who work in the organization. This is a book that conveys your pride and feelings as a professional.
Main points of this book
The author reversed that decision, although he had declared he would retire if he couldn't be in the majors. This is because the feeling of "I want to play baseball" was better than the feeling of "I want to play major."
The author announced his retirement in May 2019. It was disappointing, but I felt like I had finished the fight.
The second army is the place to experience, and the first army is the place to produce results. The army is not a place to experience, so it should only be judged by the results.
If you can know yourself, you can see the action guidelines. By doing so, the loss until the goal is achieved can be reduced.[Must read point!] The road to retirement
"I'm retiring in a year."-When the 2017 season ended with the Chicago Cubs, this option became a reality. In that year, he pitched in 49 games, 3 wins, 4 losses, 2 saves, 14 holds, and an ERA of 3.95. I was never satisfied.
On the other hand, I felt that I could still strike out with 50 strikeouts in 43 innings. Some said it was fine for a 42-year-old.
After all, I still want to do it as a major player. Japanese professional baseball was not an option, and I was particular about majors.
As soon as I went off, I got an offer from several teams. However, it is not the desired condition. At that time, I thought there were still more offers.
Four months after announcing his departure from the Chicago Cubs, his affiliation was undecided. Even during the voluntary training, I was carrying a smartphone that did not ring in anticipation of contact from my agent. The season is just around the corner.
This year was a year in which the affiliation of the players was not decided, as rarely seen in recent years. Even Yu Darvish was undecided until mid-February.
He had declared that he would retire if he couldn't be in the majors, but he began to wonder if he should really stick to the majors as he hadn't decided where he belonged. What is important to me? Do you want to play major? Or do you want to play baseball?
The answer was, of course, "I want to play baseball." Even Japanese teams want to do it if there is a team that needs them. In fact, there were offers from several Japanese teams.
Eventually, it was decided to join the Yomiuri Giants. When I wore the Giants uniform for the first time in 10 years, I was prepared to "give back with the results" to the Giants who got it.
The Giants finished the season in 3rd place in 2018 and advanced to the climax series. There is still the best chance in Japan. Director Yoshinobu Takahashi, who was a classmate and acquired the author, also announced his resignation due to poor grades. We have to do what we can for the team.
The opponent of the first match is Yakult in 2nd place. When Imamura, who was the starting pitcher, was hit by a two-base hit, the coach called out. "Ue, let's go!" Whether it was expectations or anxiety, the stadium screamed at the announcement. The author made a good investment and was able to contribute to the victory.
The Giants were then defeated by Carp and eliminated in the series. The season record is "0 wins and 5 losses in 36 games, ERA 3.63". It was not a level that could be said to have contributed to the team.
Around this time, I was worried about the condition of my left knee. It is an important part on which the entire weight rides when throwing. I had been in pain from the first half, but my condition was only getting worse. The accumulated water had to be drained about once every five days, and in September it was difficult to climb up and down the stairs.
You can't just bother the team and end up unconvinced. I still want to do it. There was regret and response this season. If you can get rid of your knee pain, you can still do it. However, it doesn't work unless the pain in the knee is relieved.
As a result, I had an operation on my left knee four days after the season ended. I have experienced various injuries, but this was the first time I had a scalpel in my body.
After successfully completing the surgery, the first thing to do is to decide which team to belong to. It was said that he would talk with the Giants before the surgery, and as a free contract player, he would test at the camp from February 1st while watching the progress after the surgery. This means that you may be able to sign any team, including the Giants, but you may not.
On the day of the surgery, Hara will return to the new Giants coach. He was a director who fought together from 2002, 2003, 2006 to 2008.
The director Hara contacted me saying, "I don't need to take a test and I want to make a contract." He interacted with the team.
There is no reason not to feel this spirit. I want to play baseball to give back to the Giants, Hara, and the fans. "Let's burn completely for the Giants this season and retire."-It was the moment when we decided to retire, which was different from the previous year.
March, April 2019
The first mound of 2019 was the Spring Education League (a kind of open battle for the second army). He threw 6 to 1 times and retired from the trio, finishing with 10 balls. Even in the game four days later, he threw one time and ended up with seven balls.
Finally, I had the opportunity to join the army and pitch in the final round of the open game. He was hit by the first batter and the following batter repeatedly, and suddenly lost one point, but he suppressed the following and was one goal at a time. He pitched the next day and kept the first inning with no runs.
Although there are still issues with the accuracy of the changing ball, there was a response to enter the season as it is. However, the result was a fall of the second army. The reason was "I want you to speed up a little more." The ball speed is 135 km. Certainly not enough. It was a fact that we had to speed up.
But the author never went up to the mound with speed in mind. Even though I could understand the need to increase the ball speed, it was almost like I was denied the baseball life so far when I was told that the second team was dropped for that reason.
From the next day, we increased the weight training of the upper body and added core training to work on the one with high running strength. However, changing training does not mean that the speed will increase immediately.
On March 30th, the second team reached the next pitch, but he was hit by a home run. 1 inning 3 hits 2 runs. Just because I was conscious of speed, the form fell apart. The force was not transmitted to the ball, and the ball was easily hit by the batter.
"If this situation doesn't change, I'll retire."-I called my family living away and told them.
The second army is a place to experience, and the first army is a place to produce results. In other words, one army is not a place to experience. It should be judged by the "result". This is what the author has embodied throughout his baseball life.
However, if there is no chance, "results" cannot be obtained. While many players went up from the second army to the first army, Uehara and one young player were the only pitchers left in the second army.
So far, he has thrown in the second army and scored 3 goals in 6 innings. If you look at the contents, you know that there are issues. That is why I struggled.
It is not realistic to throw 145 kg from now on. You still have to raise the base. I felt frustrated when I thought that 140 kg was out and the ball was 135 kg.
It's already been four months since the camp. Most of them are farm life. The encouragement that "if you are patient, chances will come. You will definitely be called out" was not accepted obediently.
Isn't he just taking away the place to "experience" young players in the second army? Is it valid in the second army? Is it needed by the team? What did you do the surgery for?
On the other hand, the feelings of wanting to do, the feelings of being able to do it, the things and pride that have been accumulated, and the desire to have opportunities arise.
However, there was a reality that could be understood by taking a step back. It is not the person who makes the decision in the professional world. It is a third party who evaluates. How many players have quit because of the evaluation from a third party, thinking that they can do it?
I should quit-I called Hara without being able to control my regrets. "Director Hara, I'm sorry suddenly. I'm going to quit," he said. Hara's voice was calm. "As a director, I want you to remain." He went on to say apologetically, but clearly, "I'm not in a position to talk about that. I want you to talk to the team."
At this moment, I really decided to retire. I was expecting something when I called. He might have believed that the director would give him positive words. The moment he was calmly pushed out, he decided to quit.
I was disappointed. But I felt like I was finished fighting. It was just after the end of Golden Week in May 2019.
On May 20, he put a period in his 21-year baseball life.
Uehara's baseball philosophy
Don't compete with numbers
Do not compete at ball speed. This was the author's baseball style. It was pointed out that even majors were slow, and it was even talked about why they couldn't hit even though it was slow.
What the author valued was that he didn't play at ball speed, but made the batter feel fast. I think this is being neglected in the baseball world because the numbers are so important.
There are other numbers in the pitcher besides ball speed. The type of ball is one of them. Having multiple types of balls is certainly an advantage for pitchers. But that doesn't mean you can win.
The author, who couldn't compete with numbers (ball speed and ball type), always imagined how the batter would feel. There is a batter and there is a pitcher. With this perspective, there should be room for players who cannot compete with numbers.
The pitching form, batting form, training method, and how to bring feelings to the game differ depending on the player. There is no correct answer that applies to everyone, at least in baseball.
However, if there is no such "correct answer", you have to find a way to get the "correct answer" in your own way. So how do you find it?
The first thing you need to do is "know yourself." For example, what kind of habits do you have in the pitching form, which muscles are strong, how can you bring high tension to the game, and so on.
Unless you know yourself, you cannot reach the "correct answer". If you know yourself, you know what to do and how to act. Even if you make an effort without knowing yourself, you will only lose more money to reach your goal.
Recommendation of reading
Not only is Uehara's real feelings overflowing in this book, but also a dialogue between Yoshinobu Takahashi and Kazuo Matsui is recorded, and Uehara's perspective from the standpoint of teammates and rivals You can also see what it looks like. This is an irresistible book for baseball fans who can enjoy both the heart of Uehara and the appearance of Uehara from the outside.