When did the Japanese Leagues become a Major League?
Why does anyone care that Ichiro is going to have 3000 hits in his career. Most of which he spent in the lesser Japanese leagues.
This article http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080729&content_id=3217965&vkey=news_sea&fext=.jsp&c_id=sea appeared on mlb.com on Tuesday. As mud.com’s K-Man has pointed out several times is the fact that Julio Franco really is the first multi-national 3000 hit man. Franco spending time in MLB, the Japanese Leagues and the Mexican League. The Mexican League actually has a designated rating, placing it below the ML as AAA calibre.
MLB has never made a decision on the calibre of the Japanese League and it is from here that Ichiro can claim to be a 3000 hit man. But the Japanese Leagues are not, in any stretch of the imagination a Major League.
There seems to be a trend to move towards giving the Japanese Leagues more respect and a higher calibre identification for the Japanese players.
I beleive that combining these types of records between unaffiliated and more or less unrecognised leagues in the eyes of MLB there is opening up too much discussion on the merits of other leagues.
In the 1960′s baseball investigated several leagues across several seasons of its early history. They identified some leagues as being Major League. At this point it recognised the Federal League, the Player’s League and the Union Association as true Major Leagues.
Major League Baseball has a Constitution and unless it changes that to include Japanese baseball we should not even consider Ichiro and his greatness before 2001. He should just be an old rookie.
Before baseball includes Japanese stats they must include those of the Negro Leagues. The influx of Negro League players has never affected ML play as much. Negro League stats are suspect and players have been admitted to the Hall of Fame with no true idea of career numbers. However, the Negro Leagues were probably closer to the level of Major League ball than the Japanese League could ever dream of.