Best-selling author Robert Whiting, who has penned such classics as "You Gotta Have Wa," "The Chrysanthemum and the Bat" and "The Meaning of Ichiro," has written an exclusive four-part series for The Japan Times on the effect Major League Baseball is having on the Japanese pro game, and how the poor organization of the sport here is putting the latter at a fundamental disadvantage with their North American counterparts. The following is the first installment of the series.

The recent signing of Daisuke Matsukaza, on whom the Boston Red Sox spent $103 million has many people wondering about its effect on Japanese professional baseball, a tradition-bound game that dates back to 1936.

While Matsuzaka, a former Seibu Lions player, is only the latest in a string of stars to depart Japan in the past decade, his determination to leave, the high price he commanded and his prospects for long-term success in the major leagues does not bode well for Japanese baseball.