Yankees Masahiro Tanaka Stars In Pokemon Commercial

Coming off a season in which the Yankees ace finished 7th in the AL Cy Young award voting, Masahiro Tanaka‘s star continues to rise in his home country of Japan.

Masahiro Tanaka may be the New York Yankees undisputed No. 1 starter, but he’s way bigger in Japan than he’ll ever be here in the States. I’m talking Justin Bieber soon after the release of his first album big.

Still, at only 28 years of age, coming off a season in which he amassed a 14-4 record, 3.07 ERA, and 5.4 WAR, Tanaka has made the most of his short time pitching on baseball’s biggest stage. In three years time, Tanaka has erased the nightmare that was Hideki Irabu — and made Yankees fans long for another hitter like Hideki Matsui (Japan has been mostly good to this team).

Sadly, Tanaka’s rise to fame will always be one pitch away from hitting the proverbial brick wall — as no one knows exactly how long that partially torn right elbow UCL will stay intact.

Until then, though, while Yankees fans worry that another fantastic campaign where Tanaka finds himself finishing with the third-ranked ERA in all of the American League, as well as the third best base on balls per 9 IP will convince him to opt out of the final three years, $67M on his contract, Tanaka will continue to relish in his massive celebrity within the Pacific Rim.

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Though most pre-teens have ceased playing all things Pokemon here in America, Nintendo has recently inked Tanaka to star in a Japanese commercial endorsing its latest Pokemon spin-off, titled ‘Pokemon Sun and Moon,’ which was released on the Nintendo DS on Nov. 18.

The Pokemon series, which is still wildly successful in Asia, sees a shadowy Tanaka confidently walk through some high grass before stopping and flipping a Pokeball in the air. Moments later, his patented icy glare is zoomed in upon before the audience witnesses that funky windup and delivery of a Poke-strike straight into a Nintendo DS.

Whatever you do, pay attention to the final few seconds of the commercial, as for the first time that I can recall, Tanaka actually smiles.

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