Japanese Teen's MLB Dream Choked Off

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"The nail that stands out gets pounded down."

This an old Japanese proverb that signifies what happens when a person tries to be different from the group and doesn’t go along with the program.

When Shohei Otani -- the much-heralded right-hander from Hanamaki Higashi High School in Iwate Prefecture -- announced Sunday that he had reversed his decision to bypass Nippon Professional Baseball for the majors, signing instead with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, one could not help but think that history was repeating itself.

The 18-year-old Otani, who stands 6-4 and possesses a 100-mph fastball, informed Japanese clubs back in October that he did not want to be drafted and would not sign with a...

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