Japanese baseball commissioner Ryozo Kato resigns

Koji Watanabe

The NPB commish cited the controversy over the livelier ball this season as a big reason for his decision to step down.

Nippon Professional Baseball commissioner Ryozo Kato announced his resignation at an owners' meeting on Tuesday, reports ESPN and AP.

The former Japanese ambassador to the US, who has been in his current position since 2008, will officially step down at the end of the regular season (Oct. 6). No immediate plans have been made regarding who will step in as his successor.

Though the septuagenarian has never admitted to being informed that a switch to a more offense-friendly ball took place, he cited the ongoing controversy as one of the deciding factors in his resignation:

"I caused a lot of problems over the ball, and that was a huge reason for my decision,'' Kyodo news agency quoted Kato as saying.

The players' union called for Kato to step down when the news first broke in June, but he opted against it at the time.

Since then, slugger Wladimir Balentien has gone on to shatter Saduharu Oh's revered single-season home run mark. He hit his record-breaking 56th home run on Sunday, and is now all the way up to 58 with more than two weeks still remaining in the regular season.

It's unclear right now what the impact of Kato's resignation will be, but it could end up being a factor in MLB's negotiations with NPB about modifying posting fees for free agents, as well as getting an international draft going in the near future.

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