As the Masahiro Tanaka lottery is approaching its end, two teams are left in the running: the Chicago Cubs and the Yankees. While both cities and towns have a litany of similarities and differences, they provide Tanaka ideal factors beyond the monetary aspect. Where is Tanaka more likely to land?
Regarding weather, the Yankees have an advantage. Japan is a coastal series of islands with temperate weather. Chicago is a landlocked, blustery city filled with Bears fans who “dabble check.” While New York can also be frigid, the Bronx doesn’t have the same high velocity gusts as The Windy City. Consider that the average annual temperature in New York (specifically the five boroughs) is 53 degrees, compared to an average annual temperature of 49 degrees in Chicago. Yes, the weather may not have that much of an effect on Tanaka’s decision, but the harsh conditions would be a shock to his system.
Regarding team, the Yankees have an advantage… for now. The Yankees roster is replete with veteran position players, such as Carlos Beltran, Alfonso Soriano, Derek Jeter, and others. In three seasons from now, the only hitters still left will be Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, and maybe Brett Gardner or Mark Teixeira. The pitching staff looks shaky, too, as C.C. Sabathia, Michael Pineda, Hiroki Kuroda, are far from sure wins. As middling as the Yankees may appear, the Cubs are echelons worse. The entire team consists of promising slugger Anthony Rizzo (24 years old) and immature shortstop Starlin Castro (23 years old). Tanaka would clearly step into a role where he would have to carry a below-average team to the apex of his division. The NL Central has the Reds, Cardinals, and Pirates. They all made the playoffs. The Cubs didn’t, and won’t play in October for another five years. Unless Tanaka wants to begin his Major League career below .400, the Yankees are the stronger team.
Regarding environment, the Cubs have an advantage. New York city is big. Millions of people live in Manhattan alone, and New Yorkers are not known for patience, especially the Yankees organization. The team wants to win NOW. If Tanaka struggles out of the gate, the pressure could become suffocating. Meanwhile, the Cubs aren’t in a rush to win this year. Their main core of players are young, and the team can afford for Tanaka to settle in for a year or two. The Cubs can be more accommodating to Tanaka, and can monitor his first season closely.
Call me biased, but I think the Yankees are a better fit. Tanaka won 24 games last season, the Cubs won 66, and the Yankees won 85. Those numbers speak for themselves. In the end, it’s Tanaka’s choice, based on factors that have been calculated for months. No matter what the Yankees, Cubs, or we the fans do, nothing can change his opinion. We just hope he picks our city.