After the season, Darvish received his first Eiji Sawamura Honor (the first recipient in 14 years to fulfill or surpass criteria in all seven categories) and his first Most Valuable Player award. In that same year, he also received the Best Nine and Golden Glove trophies.
On December 3rd, 2007, Darvish faced up against Chinese Taipei in the 2007 Asian Baseball Championship, which served as the region’s Olympic qualification event for the 2008 Beijing Games.
Darvish had chosen to keep his Japanese citizenship in order to compete for the country in the Olympics because Japanese law mandates that a person with dual citizenship select a single nationality before their twenty-second birthday.
Darvish re-signed with the Nippon Ham Fighters on December 22 for 200 million yen plus piece rates, an increase of 128 million yen from 2006. At age 21, Darvish became the youngest baseball player in Japanese history to earn 200 million yen.
In 2008, Darvish pitched a full-game shutout in the season opener for the Fighters (who won 1-0), earning the team’s starting pitcher nod for the second straight season.
Darvish kept accumulating victories at a rate that was faster than his own from the previous season, even while his team struggled in the early going.
He and Eagles ace Hisashi Iwakuma eventually became the league leaders in victories and ERA. During the first five innings of their lone season matchup on April 10, neither team allowed a single hit.
Darvish outdid Iwakuma in one of the best pitchers’ duels of the season, throwing another full-game shutout on just three hits and 100 pitches while allowing just one run on 100 pitches. Iwakuma had gone the distance.
Does Yu Darvish Speak Iranian?
Yu Darvish does not speak Farsi/Iranian. He speaks Japanese and English. Darvish regarded himself as “100% Japanese.