The Filibuster

I recently took an interest in Japanese baseball, meaning I found the NPB website and checked it out.  Being the linguistically worldly fellas that you are, what are your thoughts on Japanese pro baseball?
John (aka Jonestein)
Foat Wuth, TX.
Baseball, Apple Pie & Lobster

Hiroshima toyo carp.jpgWhile 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.




  1. devilabrit

    I am surprised you didnt mention Charlie Manuel once… American Baseball and Japenese Baseball mentioned together must include the American sluggers fame in Japan… albeit 20 years prior to your time in China… but he did manage to drive the Yakult Swallows to the Japanese title…. then the Kintetsu Buffaloes to the playoffs and won the PL MVP that year…. it’s not just a oneway street… maybe I’m just biased….
    Outside the Phillies Looking In

  2. raysrenegade

    The game is just handles so much different in the Japanese culture.
    The players and the coaches have such a respect level for the game that it is wild to even imagine a hit batsman without reason.
    I know a few ex-Rays who have ventured overseas, and they come back telling of the difference not just in the style of baseball, but in the intensity of the crowd with coordinated cheering and noise that masks anything here….even the cowbells.
    I have never taken in a Japanese League game, but it is on my “To Do List” for sure. If not for the basic fact of seeing what is in the concession stands, but to see the difference the crowd and the team take our game to another level.

    Rays Renegade

  3. Jonestein

    Please, oh Linguistically Worldly One, explain that freaky Korean chicken dance! LOL! At first I thought “oh, they’re trying to take off their shoes for a bad-a$s Korean martial arts brawl at the mound”, but they all just kept hopping around like idiots! WTF?

  4. redstatebluestate

    Buz – Thanks!
    Peter – Had no idea. Thanks for the edumacation.
    Ted – Kaz got himself crossed out. Never lived up to the hype.
    Mike – Swallows. Now that’s a might name!
    Juila – The Phillie Phanatic is a REPUBLICAN. Ew.
    Prince – They love him over there. He’s like Connie Mack in Japan.
    RR – LOL. I’d be piecin’ on some fried eel. Mmm!
    Jonestein – I guess they do that to avoid real fighting. The goal is to knock the other guy over, off balance, but you can only hop on one foot. Fall down and you’re out. That’s what was explained to me… by an Asian so I think it’s pretty valid (albeit odd).
    Jenn – Sign me up!

  5. diamondgirl55

    Jeff- I read your blogs occassionally but this is the first time commenting…and I really should have before; forgive me. Anyway, I really enjoyed reading this entry! Not only because I’m a Mariners girl, but because I was born and raised in Tokyo, and my love for baseball was born with watching the Yomiuri Giants with my Dad. After graduating high school I went to U of Wash in Seattle which is why I’m such a huge M’s fan :] (Sorry about the mini bio..haha). I know I know, the mascot “Carp” definitely sounds odd here in the states but there’s a lot of carp in Japan so…it makes sense to a Japanese :] If we’re going with looks, please check out the Yomiuri Giants mascot…now THAT thing is weird…yet adorable.
    Thanks for a really fun blog and thanks for getting me homesick…haha just kidding. I’ll be back again! XOXO

  6. redstatebluestate

    Diamond Girl — Thanks for stopping by and hollerin’ at us. Keep comin’ back! As for the Giants mascot… is it a giant or a monster or a fox or what the hell is that? LOL.

  7. Jonestein

    “…nothin’ says powerhouse baseball like a wet, smelly Carp”
    Funny how much their logo & uniforms resemble that of the Cincinnati Reds, whose ’09 season, coincidentally, reminds one of wet, smelly, Carp.
    Thank you, I’ll be here all week.

  8. Jane Heller

    What I’d like to know is are you and Nobby still in touch? Like have you ever invited him over to watch a White Sox or Cardinals game with you? Or better yet, you should take him to a Cubs game and show him how rowdy and insulting fans can be.

  9. redstatebluestate

    Jonestein — Excellent analogy! I’ll try the veal 😉
    Jane — We are indeed, thanks to Facebook and email. He lives in Japan and is raising Ichiro crazy kids nowadays while I philander among the unwed. Great guy. Great fan. Would take him to a Cubs game if he were ever here to show him how the game is NOT supposed to be played.

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