There are a lot of differences and unique quirks in Japanese baseball that set it apart from the good ol' fashioned major league game that most fans are used to, right down to the actual baseball used in games. X user Lucas Borja recently compiled a fun thread on other differences, including one that MLB might take a note from: if games go to 12 innings and are still tied by the end, the game ends in a tie. Others include a bullpen car to pick up players and take them to the mound instead of having them run out, and dedicated cheering sections for fans.
But the one that might be the most delightful for Dodgers fans: No. 18, which Yoshinobu Yamamoto will wear in MLB, is typically reserved in NPB for a team's best pitcher. Masahiro Tanaka and Daisuke Matsuzaka both wore it in Japan, and the Yankees, gunning very hard for Yamamoto before he chose the Dodgers, even presented him with a No. 18 Yankees jersey during their attempts to woo him. Where do we think that jersey is now? Money's on either nicely shipped back to the Yankees with no note or somewhere in an LA dump.
Yoshinobu Yamamoto will wear No. 18, an "ace number" in NPB, with the Dodgers
It's unclear who will make the Dodgers' first start of the year against the Padres in Seoul next month, but most signs to point to Yamamoto. It would only make sense for the Dodgers to put him, their most highly touted offseason pitching addition, up against Ha-Seong Kim and the Padres during a series in a country that Yamamoto's own Team Japan has a decades-old grudge against. Japanese fans are also likely to flock to Korea for both games, hoping to get a glimpse of Yamamoto and Shohei Ohtani as Dodgers while most MLB fans in the States are asleep.
A $325 million contract would be tough to live up to for anyone, even if the recipient is already a three-time Triple Crown winner in Japan at only 25 years old. If No. 18 is a fortuitous number for aces in Japan, hopefully that will spell nice returns for Yamamoto in his first start for the Dodgers, whenever it happens, and beyond. It's nice to have yet another thing to rub into the Yankees' faces, as well.