For the first time since 2006, MLB is sending an All-Star team of sorts to play an exhibition* series in Japan. Carlos Santana has agreed to be a part of that team, probably due to his well known affinity for ikebana, Shinto architecture, and Totoro. He's also agreed to appear in some whiskey ads.
*Japanese baseball officials would prefer the games not be referred to as exhibitions, I assume because they want the games to be viewed as actual competition, but I'm going with exhibition, because Japan's not the boss of me.
The MLB team will be managed by Red Sox skipper John Farrell, perhaps because after being eliminated from postseason contention somewhere around Memorial Day, he had plenty of time to strategize for this series. Santana's teammates will include Robinson Cano, Yasiel Puig, Jose Altuve, Evan Longoria, Albert Pujols, and Bryce Harper. The pitching staff is still mostly to be determined, with Chris Capuano currently in the role of staff ace.
The in-progress roster can be found here, but unless you read Japanese, you'll have to recognize players' faces. I went 15 for 17 on those who are already on board.
There will be seven games in all, the first against a team made up of players from the Hanshin Tigers and Yomiuri Giants, Japan's two most storied teams. The remaining games will be played against Samurai Japan (which is the badass name of Japan's national team).
Here's the schedule of games:
- Nov. 11 Tigers/Giants vs. MLB All-Stars at Koshien Stadium
- Nov. 12 Samurai Japan vs. MLB All-Stars at Kyocera Dome
- Nov. 14 Samurai Japan vs. MLB All-Stars at Tokyo Dome
- Nov. 15 Samurai Japan vs. MLB All-Stars at Tokyo Dome
- Nov. 16 Samurai Japan vs. MLB All-Stars at Tokyo Dome
- Nov. 18 Samurai Japan vs. MLB All-Stars at Sapporo Dome
- Nov. 20 Samurai Japan vs. MLB All-Stars at Okinawa Cellular Stadium
No word yet on what time the games will be played, but with it being 13 hours later in Japan than it is in Cleveland, early morning seems the best bet. Perhaps the MLB Network will carry one or two of them, we'll see. In the meantime, consider what Bill Murray might whisper in Carlos' ear before they part ways.