April 17, 2007

"Fight Money":: In Japanese baseball many teams give each player a $1,000 bonus for a win. Yankees left-hander Kei Igawa says, "It's like bait." Would it fly in MLB? Fukuoka Hawks reliever C.J. Nitkowski says, "It's ashtray change at best."

posted by Hugh Janus to baseball at 11:30 AM - 11 comments

bugmenot: goawaypls/goawaypls

posted by Hugh Janus at 11:37 AM on April 17, 2007

Very interesting article (and one that I was going to post but for the "server issues" that seem strangely to coincide with reports of a dead stripper at rcade's 40th birthday bash, which, not coincidentally, happened to be attended by Greg Maddux). I think the focus on the amount of the money (embodied in the Nitkowski comment -- although, in fairness to him, he is referring to it as ashtray change for big earners in the U.S.) is a bit off. Considering that Japan is more of an "honor culture" than the U.S., I think the main thing is the honor of being recognized for outstanding performance. I think this passage is key in that regard: In Okajima’s case, Giants Manager Shigeo Nagashima, a legendary figure in Japanese baseball who is now retired, would distribute fight money during team meetings. After a player received his envelope, his teammates applauded. Okajima noted that since the amount was relatively small, the financial reward paled in comparison to the gratification of being recognized. One other point worth noting -- I read the article as suggesting that the key players in a team's win would get some sort of payout, not all of the players on the winning team.

posted by holden at 12:18 PM on April 17, 2007

holden - I agree I think this is more of an 'atta boy, rather than any kind of salary increase. And its only for player(s) that did a good job for that one game. We have a similar thing here at work where a person who did a good job on a project or an had an innovative idea is given a $50 gift certificate in front of the rest of the team. The $50 isn't that big of a deal, but it's nice to be recognized. For the multimillionaire's in baseball today, I don't see where this fits in. If they can't find a reason to be motivated while making $100,000 or more PER game, then they are in the wrong business.

posted by myshtigo at 12:43 PM on April 17, 2007

Aside: C.J. Nitkowski is a cool guy. He was one of the first pro guys to "blog" (before they had the term) on his own website and would answer all his emails personally (likely due to a sum total of 43 fans) when he was a Tiger. Anyway - I really liked his site. Little rule I have: Never question the Japanese way of doing anything. That's a post-apocalyptic society talking. Not to mention the prevalence of Ninjas.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 12:59 PM on April 17, 2007

Japan - You're just another mediocre person until you prove otherwise. U.S. - You're unique, and here's your medal for participating. Holden is absolutely correct. There's a huge cultural difference in the way people feel rewarded. The money is more recognition than anything.

posted by PublicUrinal at 04:40 PM on April 17, 2007

Just reminds me of Nelson Piquet. Nelson Piquet won some F1 drivers world championships, and is probably best known for his ferocious on and off track rivalry with Nigel Mansell. In 1988, he left Williams as champion, and then went through several years of horrendous Lotus cars... Everyone wrote him off as finished, over the hill etc... Then he moves to Benetton. Instead of a straight up payment, he got paid per point basically. Suddenly Piquet was back and even winning races. So even when you're rich, don't underestimate the power of being made even richer...

posted by Drood at 06:41 PM on April 17, 2007

We have a similar thing here at work where a person who did a good job on a project or an had an innovative idea is given a $50 gift certificate in front of the rest of the team. The $50 isn't that big of a deal, but it's nice to be recognized Agreed. And peer recognition is the best. Our Over 35s soccer team vote each week for the man of the match award. The six pack of beer is highly coveted.

posted by owlhouse at 06:58 PM on April 17, 2007

Funny... I don't drink at all. Never touch the stuff. And yet I guarantee, despite drinking, that football team is fitter than me:)

posted by Drood at 07:23 PM on April 17, 2007

I am half Japanese. I am in relatively close contact with my Mom's side of the family in Japan. Mom and I visit there every two to three years. Back in 2000 or 2001, my Uncle and his son came out to visit us. My Uncle was a retired salaryman for Toyota. I was going through the MBA program at the UW at the time, so naturally the conversation turned to business. My Uncle told a story about incentives at Toyota when he worked there. Every manager was required to submit two suggestions per month. These suggestions could recommend any mean as long as the end was either cut costs or increased revenues. Usually the management suggestions took the form of ways to increase efficiencies. Almost every month one of the suggestions would be adopted and the employee that initiated it would be rewarded with a cash payment. My Uncle had a sense of smug satisfaction when he told this story. He asked me what I thought of it. I told him, "In America, if you can come up with two cost-cutting suggestions every month you quit and go start your own business."

posted by vito90 at 01:28 AM on April 18, 2007

The "win bonus" is a common practice in professional football (soccer). I think they sometimes also have goal bonuses for the strikers and clean sheet bonuses for the defender and goalkeeper. Not sure about midfielders - maybe assist, tackling and running around a lot bonuses.

posted by squealy at 09:05 AM on April 18, 2007

In Japanese Sumo, many of the bouts are "sponsored". That is, individuals or businesses put up a few Yen to have their names mentioned as sponsoring the match. The winner then gets the money, with a small portion paid immediately and the rest put into his retirement fund. I also remember some "player of the game" type awards on Japanese baseball broadcasts. These were usually accompanied by a cash award. The pay scales in Japan tend to be lower than here, so the various awards are an accepted way of earning a few extra Yen.

posted by Howard_T at 12:42 PM on April 18, 2007

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