Results tagged ‘ Japan ’
Baseball, Apple Pie & Lobster
While still behind the modern US American game in terms of global appeal, Japanese baseball does have a special place in the universe of our national pastime. Indeed it has evolved much beyond the infant and fundamentally challenged Chinese game and the linguistically worldly fella in me likes to think that even Japanese basebrawls tend to be a bit more aggressive than their Korean counterparts’ elusive yet intriguing pitcher’s mound chicken dance routine. Still, there is more to it than that.
During my first year in China, I had a Japanese roommate named Hayashi Nobuhide. Nobby — as we white devils called him because, well, it was easier to pronounce — was a rabid baseball fan. In fact, our friendship, which was predestined to be rocky due to 60 years of bad history, was solidified by our matched passion for the game.
Some of my fondest memories revolve around us getting up at 5am to watch the 1999 World Series during which he vehemently professed his equally tired hatred of the New York Yankees — for they were, to Nobby and his Japanese brethren, holistically representative of “all that’s bad with America” (his words, not mine, though most probably true, especially when considering the likes of Roger Clemens, Chuck Knoblauch and Tony Tarasco).
And that year, Nobby cheered on the Atlanta Braves just like any other rabid Japanese nationalist: while wearing a Seattle Mariners cap.
Ichiro! Ichiro! Ichiro!
“But what about Hideki Irabu?” I asked.
“**** that traitor! Go Ichiro!” he replied.
“But Ichiro’s not playing.”
“He should be! ICHIRO!!!”
To hear Nobby tell it, Ichiro Suzuki was more popular, more influential, more inspiring than Jesus Christ himself (not to mention having a better stylist). Everything about Ichiro, from his odd pregame warmups to his ritualized on-deck routine to his classic power pose at the plate was unequivocally all-things Japanese: systematic, graceful and proud.
Consider the fact that this undying allegiance came during the height of the steroid era, and I gotta admit, Nobby had a damn good point:
Sensationalized as the above may be, the truth remains: Ichiro is powerful.
And now, that power has multiplied. The Japanese gifts continue to grace diamonds all across US America. From Ichiro Suzuki to Takashi Saito to
Kaz Matsui Kosuke Fukudome Hiroki Kuroda, the game has plenty of room for Japanese imports.
If we’re lucky, maybe someday we can even borrow the Hiroshima Toyo mascot; ‘cuz nothin’ says powerhouse baseball like a wet, smelly Carp.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Attacking our Commander in Chief for his administration’s slow recovery from eight long years of poor GOP policy is one thing; attacking him for his pitching mechanics is another and, frankly, I find it to be an undermining, un-American, unnecessary derision of the US American psyche.
I mean, this is not Barry Zito we’re talking about here. This is the President of the United States of America!
Yet it didn’t take long for Chicago Tribune writer Rick Morrissey to launch an offensive on Barack Obama’s ceremonial first pitch from the 2009 All-Star Game, highlighted by his glib crack which stated “he throws like someone who hardly has played sports” and “If I’m North Korea, I attack right now.”
Wow. Hope you got a bunker, Rick. You’re gonna need it.
Seeing President Obama walk out on the field was a special treat for me; and while from my right field vantage point I did notice somewhat of an awkward arc to his ball, I would never say it looked like an nonathletic toss. Verily, Albert Pujols saved him from bouncing one in front of the plate; but believe me, I have seen much, much worse.
Mayor Mallory anyone?
Of course, when it comes to stellar ceremonial first pitches and beyond fantastic form, it would be exceptionally difficult to beat the Japanese:
Take note bottom-dwelling, low-drawing, aesthetically-challenged Major League Baseball clubs: get this gal to throw all of your ceremonial first pitches and watch the magic unfold (or just watch her chest through that low cut pinstriped top).
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Once again, all is right with the world. Well, at least half a world away it is. Japan proved again last night that the only way to win consistently is the small-ball way. And they have some pretty good credentials to back it up now. Two for two in the World Baseball Classic? Yep, I’d say that tells us all we need to know.
But to go back a little, the game between the US and Japanese teams the other night felt kind of familiar. A scrappy team with only a couple household names beats the longball launching representatives of the American heartland. Is this 2006 all over again? And with Adam Dunn manning first base as if he took fielding instructions from tape of the Tigers’ 2006 World Series pitchers, it hit a little too close to home. Why is it that the teams I support field like Nadya Suleyman’s doctor?
The thing is, this should be a happy time. Baseball is back and after a couple week hiatus the regular season officially begins. We no longer have to worry about a potentially disturbing summer at the Jersey Shore and even my beloved and much maligned home state is slowly coming to grips with reality. As if that wasn’t enough, dreams come true next year when for only $194k, you can have your own flying car!
But it just doesn’t feel quite right when the country that invented baseball can’t win at baseball. It’s a good thing there are pole-dancing bears out there or I’d have no reason to ever get out of bed again.
I enjoyed Tropic Thunder. I understand why some people boycotted seeing it and I appreciate their arguments but I also think the movie made a valid point about the treatment of the mentally retarded in popular entertainment. Maybe that’s why I was a little taken aback this past week when President Obama made a Special Olympics joke on The Tonight Show. It wasn’t so much that he made the joke because, let’s be honest, most of us have probably made a Special Olympics joke at some point in our lives. I know I have. But as a friend once told me, “It’s not really fair to make jokes at the expense of a group that can’t defend itself.” And it’s not what I expected from this President.
But I was surprised that I experienced an eerily similar feeling yesterday when I checked in at RSBS and read:
As if facing Team Japan in the World Baseball Classic’s upcoming
semifinals isn’t enough pressure on the already limping USA squad…There is much more to fear… for example: Rape! Dear readers, Ted Bundy, Mike Tyson, Kobe Bryant… these guys ain’t got nuthin’ on the Japanese.
Now, I’m not disputing my friend and colleague’s point about the horrific events that took place in Nanking. As a self-confessed sino-phile, I’m sure he is eminently qualified to talk about this tragedy. Beyond that, the historical record tells us that Japanese troops were indeed responsible for those atrocities. But to imply that the current Japanese national baseball team has any connection to that event seems like fear-mongering at best and outright xenophobia at worst.
There are legitimate reasons to fear the Japanese. The US team has been decimated by injuries. The Japanese took apart an excellent Cuban team. And Team USA’s in-game management has been mediocre at best. But there is no reason to resort to tired stereotypes when pointing out the Americans’ impending doom.
Now, I’m sure that no offense was intended and that my co-author was merely attempting to use his post as a satrirical parody of turn of the 20th Century “Yellow Journalism” in America. But, perhaps my friend Jeffy should be mindful of Little Jeffy’s prescient channeling of Friedrich Nietzsche as illustrated above. And Jeffy, don’t hate him ‘cuz he’s right.
As if facing Team Japan in the World Baseball Classic’s upcoming semifinals isn’t enough pressure on the already limping USA squad, once the laundry list of abominable possibilities finally settles in, we US Americans could be in big trouble.
Nevermind the impeccable team consciousness so calculated and so perfected by Team Japan during international competition. Nevermind Team Japan’s quiet gamesmanship deftly defining and defending their world-class status. Nevermind Dice-K and Darvish. There is much more to fear… for example:
Rape! Dear readers, Ted Bundy, Mike Tyson, Kobe Bryant… these guys ain’t got nuthin’ on the Japanese. Don’t believe me? Know this: from December 1937 to February 1938, the Japanese raped an entire city! The then southern stronghold of China, Nanjing (aka Nanking), was completely decimated by the Japanese in a not-so-quiet storm of raging pillage quite akin to the stomping Chris Brown gave Rihanna not too long ago.
If that isn’t reason enough to fear the Japanese, how about this?
Not only do they combine situational hitting with speed, they are also known to make sure the opposite clubhouse spread is spiked with magic mushrooms, leaving the competition confused in a burst of beguiling blur.
Yet nothing should invoke more fear in the hearts of Americans than the Japanese group mind. To illustrate, here’s a clip of Team Japan’s batting practice:
They may not be a hit on Broadway (yet), but the Japanese sure do know how to rhythmically scare the bejesus out of any and all opponents willing to scrap.
US Americans, let us unite! Persevere! And conquer!
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
P.S. Dear readers, if you haven’t already, make sure you purchase the Prince of New York Paul Lebowitz’s 2009 Baseball Guide. You can get it *here* and you should get it soon. It is your one-stop shop for all things 2009 MLB and it has magical powers (and by “magical powers” I mean “table of contents”). Believe me, this dude knows what he’s talking about. He’s the clean, charming, polite version of Jose Canseco.
On the real.
(Ichiro blur photo courtesy of Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
If you’re wondering why Ben Sheets remains unsigned in the latter half of January, take a look at this video which accurately portrays the pitching mechanics and inherent injury risks typical of Sheets’ style of play:
That’s one ugly mess that I wouldn’t want to clean up, let alone dish out millions of dollars to for a multi-year deal that would most likely end in pain and suffering (see Carl Pavano & the Yankees).
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Sixteen-year-old Eri Yoshida, a knuckleball throwin’ femme phenom, recently became the first woman ever drafted in the Japanese Professional Baseball League — which would most probably make her the first professional female baseball player in an all-male league (I think; our staff is working on this one).
Eri, a studious highschooler with a keen eye for Red Sox geriatric Tim Wakefield and his trademark knuckleballing mechanics, has proven herself quite the asset amongst her male counterparts and thus looks forward to breaking in as a rookie with the Kobe 9 Cruise this spring.
In lieu of these developments, we at RSBS (namely Me) would like to take a moment to congratulate Eri Yoshida on her groundbreaking achievement by memorializing the trailblazing feats of women sports icons both past and present because… well, because we can and we should.
And we will.
Helene Robison Britton
Inheriting the St. Louis Cardinals from her uncle, Stanley Robison, in 1911, Ms. Britton broke ground as the first woman in the history of the world to own a Major League Baseball club. During her six year reign at the top of the Cardinals organization, the team managed an average winning percentage of .441, a number which — in a round about world — popped up again in 2008 as the batting average for hitters facing the Cardinals bullpen.
Okay, so she’s not much of an athlete, but she sure knows how to piss a lot of people off with her baseball-related antics. Sen. Clinton’s meandering baseball allegiances have long been the seed of the People’s frustration. America may not see in just black and white anymore, but we die-hard baseball fans tend to be staunch conservatives when it comes to flagrantly waving about one’s fan preference. Don’t get me wrong: I sincerely respect Senator Clinton. She had a great run and she would’ve gotten my vote if the desire for change in Washington wasn’t burning so strong in my heart. I voted for that change. And how am I (and all US Americans) being rewarded? By seeing the same old Washington insiders posted in the highest offices under the President.
Excuse me while I go stab myself.
Super hot woman who knows more about sports than I do? Not much else to say.
Now that the dust has somewhat settled, let me commend Gov. Palin on being the laughingstock of modern politics. Not quite the Dan Quayle Potato-Head, still, she provided plenty a laugh throughout the campaign. She’s worthy of commendation because she stuck it out and never got too rattled (unless you count that Katie Couric interview, SNL, et al). As an avid hunter, basketball player and all around “hot mamma”, I bet she’d be a pretty sturdy fireballer on the mound late in a game. The Cardinals need some bullpen help. I’m just sayin’…
*Drool… drool… drool…
What? She didn’t make the Olympics? She doesn’t play baseball? Do I even care?
Just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.