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Noot Goes to Japan

Kenta Harada

There are some people that are simply hard not to love.

St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Lars Nootbaar is one of those people. To paint a better picture, Nootbaar is a major league slugger that seems to have the personality of a golden retriever. Anytime Nootbaar is shown on camera during a game, he can be seen smiling or laughing with his teammates. While making plays he seems to always have his tongue sticking out, very reminiscent of Michael Jordan or, ya know, a golden retriever.

Last summer, Nootbaar stole the hearts of baseball fans in St. Louis.

At Busch Stadium, Nootbaar is known simply as Noot. Chants of “Nooooot” seemed to be a nightly occurrence last summer as Cardinal fans fell in love with the rookie outfielder’s electric style of play.

Now, Noot has taken his play to the international stage. He is suiting up for Samurai Japan as a part of the 2023 World Baseball Classic.

Samurai Noot

When you hear the name “Lars Nootbaar” you probably don’t think Japanese baseball player.

To be fair, Noot wasn’t born in Japan. He is a native of El Segundo, California, but his mother, Kumi Enokida, is Japanese and still holds citizenship.

Because Noot’s mother is a Japanese citizen, he was eligible to play for Samurai Japan in the World Baseball Classic. Noot had dreamed of representing Japan for a long time, but there was one huge problem; Samurai Japan had never selected a player born outside of Japan.

That changed, though. Samurai Japan welcomed Noot to their roster and made history in doing so. It was an accomplishment that no doubt means so much to both Noot and his mother.

“I think there’s a sense of pride being able to represent Team Japan and where she grew up,” he said. “It’s a pretty cool moment because she sacrificed so much for me.

“I can’t wait, it’s a dream come true for me.”

Living His Best Life

Since arriving in Japan to join the team, there have been countless videos and pictures shared of Noot enjoying this experience that he has dreamed of.

One of the problems with Noot not being a Japanese citizen is that he doesn’t speak Japanese. Luckily fellow MLB stars Shohei Ohtani and Yu Darvish are in the clubhouse and can translate. Noot is also being helped out by his mother, who is doing her best to teach her son her native language.

But, the language barrier has also provided some amazing content:

As mentioned before, as a part of Samurai Japan, Noot is now a teammate of Shohei Ohtani. Ohtani, of course, is arguably the best baseball player alive. Like Noot, Ohtani is one of those guys it is just simply hard not to like. It seemingly has not taken long for Noot and Ohtani to grow close and become friends.

After hitting a home run, Ohtani can be seen rounding the bases and embracing Noot’s signature celebration: the pepper grinder.

I already can’t get enough of Noot and Ohtani’s friendship, and they still have a ton of baseball to play together. Selfishly, as a Cardinals fan, I would love to see these two teaming together in St. Louis for the next decade as well as tearing it up for Samurai Japan.

What’s Next?

The World Baseball Classic officially starts with the group stage on Wednesday, March 8th. The classic will go on until Tuesday, March 21st when the championship game will be played in Miami.

Noot and Samurai Japan are part of Pool B, and their games will be played at home in Tokoyo, Japan. Their pool consists of Australia, China, Korea, and the Czech Republic.

Samurai Japan’s first game will be against China on Thursday.

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