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jj009 Offline

Beiträge: 4.373

07.09.2019 08:43
an) marvel at the crowd gathering outside the minor league ballpark gates. Its three hours until the first pitch, and h Antworten

This story appears in ESPN The Magazines June 6 World Football Issue. Subscribe today.Standing at a second-floor railing, four Japanese reporters (and one American) marvel at the crowd gathering outside the minor league ballpark gates. Its three hours until the first pitch, and hundreds are waiting to enter. Soon, the park fills with nearly 12,000 people, and the hometown mascot -- something that resembles a giant red weasel in a baseball uniform -- dances in center field. There are a surprisingly large number of Japanese families present.The crowd at Dr Pepper Ballpark, 25 miles north of Dallas in Frisco, is here to witness the return of Yu Darvish, the 29-year-old international icon who was once one of the most feared pitchers in baseball. Coming off Tommy John surgery, hes scheduled to throw only two innings today, but no one seems to care. Its been 20 months since his last major league start and nearly 14 since he pitched to anyone other than a teammate. Before his injury, Darvish was an All-Star in each of his three seasons in America -- and the fastest pitcher in history to notch 500 MLB strikeouts. If he can return to pre-injury form, hell not only give the Rangers a much-needed boost as the teams ace but also give the league a bump in international viewership and merchandise sales. And hell greatly increase his chances of a $100 million payday when he becomes a free agent, which could happen as early as next season. But if this rebuilt arm cant throw some of the five -- or is it seven? or nine? -- different pitches previously in his quiver, his career could be over.Darvish steps into the bullpen to warm up. Wearing a light blue RoughRiders uniform, he holds his signature glove and a clear bottle containing a pink liquid. He looks 10 or 15 pounds heavier than the last time he pitched in a regular-season game, on Aug. 9, 2014. But then he throws, and there it is, those powerful drop-and-drive mechanics. Fans crane their necks and jump to get a look. The lucky ones up close take selfies. Others just yell his name. A man in his 60s is wearing a Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters jersey, his wife an i love yu T-shirt. A few people wave signs with messages or, in one case, a 4-foot-tall depic

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