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Monday, April 7, 2014

Baseball and Other Thoughts

I was watching Mr. Baseball on TV this past Saturday afternoon... a 1992 baseball movie starring Tom Sellick who plays an aging American ball player who gets traded to the Chunichi Dragons in Japan.

Although a huge fan of baseball and of Mr. Sellick (especially in his Magnum P.I. television series!)... and my mother actually having calenders and posters of him hung up in her office (the 1980s were a strange time)... I had never seen the movie before.

Despite it having come out while I was in Japan... translated movies for the Japanese public (with English subtitles) usually took a year or so for them to come out in Japan.

In that case, I was probably neckdeep in a love affair with Noboko, or possibly already out of the country by the time it actually played in Japan.

"Oh ho!" you are thinking... so Andrew left Noboko as soon as his three year stint on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme was up... sorry... that was NO spoiler. The ballad of Andrew and Noboko extends beyond my three-year stay in Japan... which, as long as I'm still breathing, we'll eventually get to it.

You may have noticed lately, that I am actually revealing more of my life with Noboko in my Tuesday blogs...

Yup... a bit of a pattern for you: Saturday I talk about American comic books and Japan; Sunday is for Japanese Fairy Tales; Tuesday is a Cool Japanese Photo... mostly from my own collection, though the first four are not... and the rest of the time - who knows what I'll create for you!

I actually despite formula, knowing I have to do a particular something at a certain time, but I suppose it's the only way I'll learn... though what is wrong with being so higgledy-piggledy (in a non-ordered manner)? I do believe that's the first time I've ever used that word in writing.

It is weird, because I usually work in organized chaos. Chaotic neutral for all you Dungeons and Dragons freaks (Yes, I was one, once).

Anyhow... back to Mr. Baseball... it reminded me that the Japanese are generally pretty organized... especially where their AET (assistant English teachers) are concerned - though they often don't let the AET know what is going on.

Us Westerners tend to like to go with the flow, whereas the Japanese tend to try and control the flow...

Watching the love affair in Mr. Baseball, it reminded me of my own trials and tribulations with Noboko - mostly because the actress,Aya Takanashi (photo above) looked pretty similar to my lady... or maybe it's just my imagination.

Whatever... I would suggest giving Mr. Baseball a look-see... basically there are a lot of Japanisms in it that are still true this day... though the scenario where Sellick's character about to break a revered Japanese manager's record is based on fact - Sadaharu Oh... and you can see how the Japanese ball players try and protect the record from being broken by a gaijin.

In the movie Sellick was issued walk after walk after walk so he couldn't swat a home run... which to me smacks of anti-gaijinism or just plain bad sportsmanship. Just play the game and let the baseball gods sort things out.


In 2013, Wladimir Balentien - a gajin - playing for Japan's Yakult Swallows cranked out 60 home runs, topping Oh's single-season record of 55... and Japanese pitchers did pitch to him... they just didn't want to.

New York Yankees outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, perhaps the greatest Japanese player of the modern age said the desire to protect the record (Oh's) wasn’t because of any animosity toward Balentien or foreigners in general. Rather, it is due to overwhelming respect for Oh, who hit 868 home runs in his career. Oh is known as the Japanese Babe Ruth.

When Roger Maris of the New York Yankees was trying to break Ruth's home run record in one season of 61, he received threats... and although he tied the record, he did so in more games played and thus had an asterisk placed beside his name in the record books.

Hank Aaron, when he was attempting to break Ruth's career home run record received death threats...

Still... that type of 'respect' is BS - bullsh!t. Play the game.

Anyhow... we Westerners are quick to point the finger at Japan for racist behavior - yes, it does exist... but it's not like it doesn't exist in various forms outside of Japan.

Japan is growing... but the thing to remember is... despite it being a thousand's of years-old culture, Japan has only ever dealt with foreigners in the past 150 years or so... and initially, quite reluctantly... growing pains...

Anyhow... that's enough scrambled egg thoughts for now... order shall be resumed.

Andrew Joseph

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