In unsurprising news, Wily Mo Pena has signed a two-year contract with the Fukuoka* SoftBank Hawks in Japan. This is sad news for those of us who loved the premise of Wily Mo here in Seattle/Tacoma, but probably good news for Wily Mo as he gets quite a bit more money ($2.5 million per plus incentives) and the chance to obliterate some home runs on another continent.
Pronounced fu-koo-oh-kuh apparently, if you were wondering. Though I learned it as fu-kwa-kuh.
Speaking of Fukuoka and home runs, there's a history there. They used to be managed by Sadaharu Oh (now on their board), the holder of Japan's single-season home run record. Back in 2001 and 2002, foreign players equaled Oh's mark with games left in the season, coincidentally against Oh's Hawks. In both cases, the players (Karl Rhodes in 2001 and Alex Cabrera in 2002) were intentionally thrown pitches well outside the strike zone throughout the series. The catcher for Fukuoka during those years? Kenji Johjima.
Pena joins former Mariner farmhand Brian Falkenborg who you haven't thought of in eight years if ever. Hopefully Pena adjusts to the numerous jet balloons and the militaristic people who sometimes have three arms and/or two heads.