IN 2000
Matsui given top rate contract
The year's MVP Hideki Matsui on Dec.25 agreed to signing one year for 500 million yen with the Giants. It's up 150 million. He did not quite make the amount Ichiro who will play for the Seattle Mariners next year. Ichiro earned 530 million this year. It's believed that the Giants desired to bind him for 8 years but Matsui refused a long term. The speculation is that he'd like to play in the US.

Shinjo choses to sign with Mets
In a surprising move, Tsuyoshi Shinjo who became a free agent from the Tigers announced Dec. 11 that he has decided to sign with the New York Mets. He revealed the decision after his meeting with Tigers officials. Shinjo had met the BayStars and the Swallows to hear their offers, but had refrained from giving comments on his decision. On Dec. 16, Shinjo left for New York to sign. Then he suddenly announced his marriage to a former model--his 7 year girlfriend.

Kiyohara weds
Giants' Kazuhiro Kiyohara married at a shrine in Nara Prefecture on Dec. 8. But for a superstar it was a modest one. The 33-year old just invited 50 guests. The cost for the shrine wedding is reported to be a meager 50,000 yen. Kiyohara is one of the highest wage earner in Japanese baseball.

Kudo's earning skyrockets
Kimiyasu Kudo who joined the Giants for the 2000 season is estimated to have gotten a 150 million rasie for the coming season. He agreed to a 300 million yen 2- year contract on Dec. 7. The Giants is to have offered him 3 years, but Kudo refused that length of time saying he'd like to give a shot in the US.

2001 season
The Central League will kick off on March 30, it was disclosed Dec. 6. The Pacific League will begin earlier, and will schedule games on Mondays which is a new attempt.

Players union vs owners in game condition
For the 2001 season, it was confirmed on June 20 that each team will play 140 games. That's up 5 games from now. It's to take the ball games to the countryside. But players have come up with more under certain conditions on Dec. 5. and have even threatened to boycott a game if they were not accepted.

Ichiro officially signs with Seattle
On Nov. 28, Ichiro left for Seattle from Kansai Airport with his wife. He had 2-day of medical check up, and on Nov. 30, he officially signed to become a ML player. He visited his new franchise with his wife and was surrounded by the US and Japanese media. During the press conference with Mariners' CEO, Ichiro said that it was like being in a movie. He also joked that his one concern is that Kazuhiro Sasaki, his new teammate is a big drinker, and that he may have to accompany the pitcher. That day, Ichiro opened NBA game between Supersonic and LA Lakers. Ichiro is reported to have signed a 3 year contract for 18 million US dollars.

Hawks parade
Pacific League champ Fukuoka Daiei Hawks paraded the streets of Fukuoka on Nov. 26. Around 300,000 fans turned up to congratulate the team for the league win. On the motorcade were skipper Sadaharu Oh, and the main players.

Ichiro agrees to join the Mariners
After 2 days of discussions, Ichiro, his agent, and the Seattle Mariners spoke before the press to announced on Nov. 19 that they have reached an agreement. This was at Nintento's headquarter in Kyoto. Ichiro has been offered a 3-year contract, but his salary was not disclosed. He will wear number 51, the same number he's worn for the Orix Blue Wave. He's to become the 11th Japanese US Major League player, but the first to play as a hitter.

Japan's draft picks
The Sydney Olympic players were drafted on Nov.17. Catcher Shinnosuke Abe of Chuo University was the first pick for champion,Tokyo Giants. Pacific League winner Fukuoka Daiei Hawks secured pitcher Akichika Yamada of Kyushu Kyoritsu University. But the first 2 rounds had no surprise, because the college and corporate players were chosen based on which teams they have designated as their first choice earlier.

Ichiro in US posting system
The Orix Blue Wave disclosed on Nov. 9, that a Major League team had won the right to negotiate with 7-time Pacific League leading hitter, Ichiro, by offering 13,125,400 dollars to the team. The team was not revealed until the next day. It's the Seattle Mariners with which Ichiro had spring camp early this year. Negotiation will begin next week.