Mitch said, “now, see, that there… that should’ve been a basehit.”
“The number’s lighter.”
Now that, my friends, is hilarity.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
It may not have been Strasmas, but according to the lunar calendar (and millions of Japanese people) April 9th proved to be an equally auspicious day, no matter what, because it was the very first Major League appearance by the highly touted (and valiantly unashamed to be naked) Yu Darvish.
Like you would expect, I made an evening of it. Here’s a play-by-play:
Still at work. I have looked at the clock every minute for the last thirty minutes, and will continue to do so for thirty more. I finish up the last of my TPS reports, turn them in to my boss and shriek when he yells “WHAT THE HELL IS THIS???”
At the gym. Working on my… nah, who am I kidding, every time I look at a hot chick working out next to me she has Yu Darvish’s face, which I find as distracting as I do disgusting. Going home now.
Dinner (sushi, of course) has been eaten. Feet are up. Beer is in hand. Let’s DO THIS! *Belch*
FSSW misses Darvish’s first pitch. Nice work, dingleberries. The biggest pitch of the year so far and you miss it. They come back from commercial break and the count is already 1-0 to Chone Figgins. AGGGHH!!! Then Darvish quickly walks him. Um… this is not how it’s supposed to go, guys.
After striking out Ackley on a NAAASTY breaking ball, Ichiro steps in. Japan loses its mind. Then Ichiro singles on a blooper to left and, already, I’m realizing Yu ain’t Strasburg (yet).
Now Justin Smoak is on first, bases are loaded with one out for Kyle Seager. Bases loaded? I DIDN’T SIGN UP FOR NO BASES LOADED!!!
Two-run gapper to right and now I’m pissed. I could have been out on a date tonight! With a real, live woman! And I passed it up for this crap???!!! WTF are YU DOING!?!?!
Darvish makes Miguel Olivo look like Johnny Bench and I’m bored. More Daisuke, less Nomo. Not even close to Strasburg. He doesn’t even have a weird hitch in his delivery like all the Japanese greats do!
He just walked in a run. It’s 4-0. EFF THIS.
Seriously, I know this is a small sample size, but I ain’t impressed and I’m changing the channel… to watch Freese and Holliday and Molina (they all homer)… CHAMPIONS.
Hate me. I understand. Just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Once the game was over, it was evident he battled back and settled down. The offense helped him out and he recovered well, and even fooled some hitters. But the hoopla was a bit much for me for him not to deliver with jazz hands. Or maybe I’ve just been spoiled by so much great pitching the last couple years that I expect greatness every game. Either way, I’ll check in again next time. I just ain’t makin’ a night of it.
This Wednesday officially kicks off the 2012 MLB season and even though I’ll probably be fast asleep while it unfolds in the Far East, I’m sure the Japanese will be plenty excited about watching two awful teams compete against one another, especially since there’s at least one Suzuki per nine.
On this side of the pond, we have much, MUCH more to look forward to. In fact, I might need a good tazing before the Cardinals open up in Miami, just so I’m forced to sit down!
Here are some of the things that have me baseball-tweaking:
The GOOD Blue Jays Uniforms Are Back!
Still mesmerized by the awful logo redesign and poor color scheme that killed Joe Carter’s Blue Jays look in 2003, I can’t tell you how happy I am to see the old logo back. And royal blue! No gray! Alongside the Cardinals, Yankees, Dodgers and Red Sox, I gotta say the classic Jays uni is about as smart and sleek as baseball uniforms come.
Grant Balfour Finally Gets to Be a Closer!
The 34-year old Aussie has been quietly waiting in the wings of every team he’s been on and now, finally, the Oakland A’s are giving him a shot at the closer role. I still think closers are overrated, but I like to think that maybe, if Balfour performs well in his new role, he might finally get paid what he’s worth. His numbers are fantastic and most people don’t even know who he is. I’m afraid playing in Oakland won’t help his popularity, but maybe Billy Beane will throw him another peanut. (Also, if you’re wondering, yes, Balfour’s fastball does have an Australian accent.)
I love Bobby Valentine. For myriad reasons. He’s cocky. He’s loud. His feelings get hurt. He’s controversial. He pisses off players, coaches, umpires. And he’s a goddamn baseball genius. HOLLA!!!
Good grief. The dude is gonna be FIFTY this year. FIFTY YEARS OLD. And he’s still gettin’ guys out. I absolutely love that. I love him! How can you not?!?!
And finally… you probably knew this was coming but…
WE ARE CHAMPIONS OF THE WORLD.
Hate me ‘cuz I’m loud, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
It was one of the most exciting three days I have ever experienced — being there, participating in the focal point of the entire baseball world, sharing with like-minded folks who love the game just as much as I do. The memories will last forever; yet even I — a man with a unique ability to alienate any intelligent conversation with my critical case of baseballitis — yes, even I could use a break.
Now back in Chicago, I plan to use my free afternoon to reflect on the staggering, inspirational, communitarian adventures I was privileged to have… and of course, pay tribute to the baseball gods who made it happen.
The National League lost. Oh well. I am not crying about it because it really means nothing to me. Despite the final score, the game was noteworthy for its cleanliness, its quickness, and how aside from a couple fielding errors (and only two walks — one intentional — if I remember correctly) it was one of the most correctly played games I’d ever witnessed live.
But even I am easily star-struck, and for me, perhaps the neatest thing was being able to see so many gifted athletes on one field, at one time, playing together. I have to say that from our right field bleacher seats, watching Ichiro Suzuki was a true pleasure. I have never seen one man do so much stretching in such a uniformed and regulated fashion. Before I knew it, my attention was solely focused on number 51.
Leading up to the game, I couldn’t help but fall in love with my country all over again. The tribute to the troops, the hometown all-stars, the President’s pitch and that wicked cool SR71 flyover are still giving me goosebumps.
Now, on with the photos…
It was something I will never forget.
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)
A special thanks goes out to all of you (four of you to be exact) who participated in the Back-to-Back-to-Back-to-Back Sweepstakes! Splendid jobs all around in twisting and grinding those creative muscles to find the quintessential back-to-back-to-back-to-back scenario. But of course, dear readers, like any other competition, we can only crown one winner. And this one stood out:
“Back to back to back to back free drinks from a good looking bartender. I think that would be kind of nice.”
For his titillating proposition of getting free booze from a hot drink-slinger, how can we not give the crown to Nate from Cubtastic~?
Though we appreciate the creative efforts of the others (all three of them) we at RSBS have a soft spot in our hearts for beautiful women and of course, alcohol. You see, it helps us forget about the woes of our favorite teams.
And we at RSBS do not discriminate against Cub fans… or Yankee fans… or Republicans. Well, maybe we do against Republicans, but you get the idea.
So, without further ado…
Now, on to the prize…
I said we would do whatever we could to make your dream come true. Unfortunately for you, I’m a liar. To make this up to Nate — and all of our dear readers — I decided to give you the next best thing: more background on the character of Ichiro Suzuki.
Why? Because his face was plastered all over MLB.com today — that’s why. Plus, the strong response to an earlier post explaining why Ichiro refuses to speak/learn/utilize the English language demanded that we further explore the psyche of this infamously secretive Japanese superstar.
So, why has Ichiro stayed in US America all this time? Is it the money? The fame? The Starbucks on every corner?
If your children had to be exposed to this type of educational programming in Japan, you would stay in US America too:
Gross. That is just plain gross.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Not long ago I happened to see Ichiro Suzuki doing a post
game interview with an US American reporter. Standing firmly by Ichiro’s side was his
translator; and all correspondences were filtered through him. Disgusted, I couldn’t help but mumble a few
choice phrases (in multiple languages). You
mean to tell me that in seven and a half years, Ichiro Suzuki still hasn’t
picked up the English language? Really? Not even a little bit? His inability to at least try and speak the language of the people who pay him wouldn’t have bothered me when he was a rookie, but he’s been playing in the
States for a long time now — constantly surrounded by English speakers,
bombarded with English at every turn — and yet he feigns ignorance and acts
surprised when someone tries to actually use English to communicate with him.
As an ardent supporter of multi-culturalism and a strong lobbyist
for forcing young children to learn at least one foreign language in primary school, I couldn’t have been more
ashamed of Ichiro’s apparent lack of effort.
Seriously. I wanted to shake
And then I remembered…
I remembered that Ichiro must still have the emotional scars
that resulted from using the English he was taught in this dynamic, ground-breaking, utilitarian language
So I forgive you, Ichiro.
And I’m very, very sorry you had to go through that. (*On a side note: I’d like to go on record
saying the Japanese are kind of weird)
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Mr. Lung, if I may be so bold as to call you mister since most of your comments tends towards the prissy and sissy. However, I’ll afford you the respect you so often lack in our current discourse and continue to refer to you respectfully. So, Mr. Lung, I hate to beat a dead horse but you could not be any further from the truth in your so-called “rebuttal” of my recent post regarding hitting .400 in today’s game of baseball.
First of all, I don’t think it’s all that groundbreaking or even close to infantile to claim that managers and players today do much more homework on the teams and players they are facing than they did 60 years ago. The advent of instant video technology has allowed batters to watch individual at-bats between innings and figure out what they did wrong. Is it crazy to assume that managers and coaches are doing the same thing with their fielders?
To add on to this thought, the size of the playing field has not increased in the past 60 years but the speed and dexterity of fielders has increased at an exponential rate. There’s a reason that Big Papi is a DH and Barry Bonds was usually stuck out in right field. Even if a guy is a huge offensive asset you have to put him where he’ll do the least damage defensively.
My point is, the web gems you see on SportsCenter on a daily basis were the exception 60 years ago, not the rule. Willie Mays’ basket catch is replicated on a daily basis by minor leaguers all over the country. So, it’s not unreasonable to think that these vastly improved defensive skills and the increases in mangerial acumen have had an effect on how many balls actually make it through safely. As you yourself said, “The game of baseball…has changed very little in the last 100 years, Al. ‘You have to put it into a place where a fielder is not.‘” But when that fielder can be in more places than he used to, Jeff, you’ve got yourself a problem.
Now, the one place where we can agree is that hitting .400 would be something special. Yeah, it’s a pretty meaningless statistic overall but baseball fans of all stripes would cheer for a once-in-a-lifetime event like that. But as far as batting average being integral to a person’s understanding of the game of baseball, well, we have a difference of opinion there.
I was watching Chipper Jones during the Braves-Angels game the other evening as he was being interviewed about his pursuit of .400. After saying it was highly unlikely that he could do it he then explained that he thought only someone like Ichiro would even have a chance. His reasoning was that the person would have to have an inordinate number of walks (which decreases the denominator in the aforementioned ratio) and then be able to beat out throws for quite a few infield hits (which increases the numerator in the same ratio) which would allow the ratio to approach .400. Chipper’s right in his reasoning although I don’t think that even Ichiro has all that great of a chance.
All of this leads me to one basic point. Although I know your rebuttal comes from a love of the game, that doesn’t make it any less ignorant. Mr. Lung, you are just plain wrong.