Teaching In Socks


I know. I’ve been here over a month and I’ve mentioned next to nothing regarding baseball or game shows. It’s poor form, I agree. I also figure at this point everyone in America except my grandparents are bit tired of hearing about me. Thus, it’s time to start the amelioration process and provide you with the some SUPER EXCITING JAPANESE BASEBALL MEGACONTENT.

I figure the finest method to approach and convey the Japanese baseball experience is to watch an entire game on television, with the trusty aid of a Kirin’s lager, and write about it. Okay maybe it’s not the best way, but I promise it will be fun.

Today’s action between Hanshin Tigers and the Hiroshima Carp is brought to you live on TSS (which must stand for Total Super Sports) and is sponsored by Mos Burger, Kirin’s, Mizuno, Ryobi, Samurai baseball players, Pachinko, the Color Magenta, and the letter L.

This one goes out to you Dan, consider this your engagement present.

23:05 No surprises here. Japan takes the first pitch a bit more seriously than we do in America. The pomp and circumstance are escalated.  First, the responsibilty for the pitch is designated to a little leaguer. This is a call move, and a motion that might be supported by a few weak-armed American dignitaries that in retrospect, perhaps wish this was the American custom.

There is also large intimidating mascot standing right behind the catcher. I no realize that neither the Japan nor America are getting the full potential of the umpire outfit. Why all balck? It’s so depressing and un-entertaining. Seriously, we could make those guys wear anything. I understand why America has had trouble of grasping and developing  this great concept, but Japan, this is your wheelhouse…shame on you.

Final difference; they actually have a batter from the other team stand in the box, and guess what, he takes a swing! (It was a half cut, but still). The pitch from the 12 year-old was just a bit outside, so it will go down in the score books as a strike. One can only imagine what psychological impact this will have on the lead off man for the rest of the game.

11:06: First Legitimate pitch by professional pitcher wearing his official Japanese pitcher weird plastic twisty necklace that they all wear. Ball one–low and away, The little leaguer had a better arm.

11:07: Five pitch, walk. Things look ominous for the Carp. Do they even have a chance? on team insignia alone…Tigers vs Carp? I think not. The name “Carp” lends itself to some dangerous manipulations if you’re a struggling baseball team.

11:09  It takes seven pitches but the second batter in the lineup finally gets a successful sacrifice bunt down. One out, runner on second. It appears they have a strategy of always moving the runner into scoring position.

11:14: Ripped to left field by Kahemoto, the cleanup hitter. Tigers 1, Carp 0. Sacrifice strategy seems to be be paying off… (insert your own Kamikaze joke here)

11:15: Slow roller to second, inning over. Tigers 1 – Carp 0, Bottom 1st.

11:16: Real Commercial on Jsports: Be sure to check in tomorrow night at 11pm for the NHL preview show!!!– I’m sure families are fighting over the remote to catch that one.

11:17 Hanshin (pronounced han-SHeen) pitcher, Andoh fires in a strike. He has no necklace, but is wearing a large yellow hospital bracelet. Intimidating. Three pitches and he induces a pop out to second base.

11:18: The crowd shot you have all been waiting for: not only are there Thunder sticks, there are super thunder sticks. They are shaped like baseball bats.  Also, when approaching the batters box, the player does not get a chosen pop song pumped through the stadium sound system. Instead, sections of the crowd are equipped with trumpets, or perhaps kazoos. I think the fans are into this.

11:19: Pop up in foul territory, The catcher and the first baseman run into each other and drop the ball. So much for fundamentals. E-both of you idiots. Customary seppuku to follow between innings

11:20: The camera shows the stadium flags to confirm that there is no wind, and that it was an error of judgment on the player’s part.  Japan is into this shame thing.

11:21: The pardoned batter grounds out to second. The catcher and the first baseman will be spared. No harm no foul. (get it?)

11:24: The pageantry is in high gear. There are heavily coordinated cheers in the crowd. There is alternating standing and sitting. This isn’t “the wave” folks, this is a new species of “super-wave”.

11:25: There’s a great grab by the third baseman on a ground ball hit sharply towards the line. He makes the throw and the inning is over. After 1, Tigers 1 – Carp 0.

11:26: From our Sponsors: Tune in this week to experience the excitement and action of JAPAN NATIONAL RUGBY LEAGUE! (Rugby and baseball? together? this is highly unnatural, my head might explode, pick one Japan! You’re either English or American, you can’t cherry pick the best sports, you either get cricket or football, now go make some decisions).

11:27: Seikimoto swings at the pitch and says, “I am different than you!” Katsubashi! Tigers 2, Carp 0.

11:28: Replays confirm that in any language that was a hanging curve ball. Let the replays of shame continue.

11:30: Stellar defense as the Hiroshima Shortstop fumbles an easy grounder. E6, there’s a reason he’s not on the Yankees I suppose. Runner on first, one out.

11:31: The sacrifice is on.

11:37: The sacrifice was a rouse all along, The batter takes a big cut, but grounds to the shortstop 4-6-3 double play. The surprise attack fails….ahhh, awkward…inning over.

11:51: Bottom of the second, nothing of interest happens. Top of the third, Tigers at bat. Runners on first and second, full count.

11:52: Ball four, low in the dirt. Somebody get on whatever fancy communication device or robot they have that contacts the bullpen (or perhaps it is a space-pen/space-dome here) and get someone warming up. We are on the cusp of a blow-out.

11:54: Starting pitcher, Saito, gets himself out of his own jam with a ground ball double play. Tigers 2 – Carp 0 after two and a half.

11:57: Single for the Carp. We have a runner on first. Do I smell a sacrifice?

11:58: Bunt sacrifice.

11:59: Multiple replays of said sacrifice. I can’t understand what the announcers are saying, but I can hear them drooling over the technique.

11:59: Routine fly-out to center, aggressive base running as the runner advances to third. Ankiel would have nailed him.

12:00: It all pays dividends! The ball is ripped down the first base line and the Carp are on the board. Tigers 2- Carp 1. That’s why you sacrifice folks, it’s all about tactical advancement from base to base until reaching home.

12:01: SURPRISE BUNT! not a sacrifice situation with 2 outs, but he lays one down anyway. No one saw this coming and he is safe at first. Runners on first and second, 2 outs.

12:04: The Tigers meet on the field to discuss how they could not see such a surprise attack coming. The Hanshin manager is either giving signals to the players or his armpit really itches.

12:10: Strong grounder to the American third baseman, who fires a strike to first base. Inning over. Tigers 2- Carp 1.

12:16: Carps pitcher, Saito, strikes out the side. His necklace power must be at full beam right now.

12:23: One out, runner on first for the Carp, and the batter the forgoes the sacrifice bunt. He immediately fouls one of his toe. Instant karma is gonna get you; that looks painful.

12:24: Now he tries the bunt but it is too late to repent. He pops it up to the pitcher and offers the customary baseball player grimace as he walks back to the dugout.

12:27: The Tigers get out of the inning with no damage. We go to the Fifth, Tigers 2 – Carp 1.

12:32: After an incident free half-inning, the game is half over and I’m half done with my Kirin’s tall boy.

12:37: Bloop single for the Carp. The thunder sticks rejoice!

12:38: No bunt again! the Carp are playing desperate ball here.

12:39: Single in the gap, two on, one out.

12:46: Single the left field and an error by the left fielder. Two runs score the Thunder sticks rejoice again! Tigers 2 – Carp 3.

1:05: The Tigers strike back, and group together a couple of singles, a fielder’s choice and stolen third base (no bunts!) to tie the game. Tigers 3 – Carp 3.

1:06: It appears Mike Scioscia is managing the Carp. That man is talented, he angles and the Carp at the same time! Also, he brings in the third pitcher of the night for the Carp as the Tigers are threatening (as Tigers are known to do).

1:20: TSS is showing some highlights of past Carp teams and playing, “The Long and Winding Road”. Brilliant, what I wouldn’t give to be change this for the the Nickleback soundtrack Fox pumps through for every replay montage.

1:34: Seventh inning stre…………nope. No stretch. Instead they have a balloon launch. Large, untied, highly phallic balloons are rocketed into the air simultaneously by the crowd. This is followed by much rejoicing. I can only imagine that telephone call that started this trend:

America: Yeah, and in the seventh inning we all get up and…

Japan: Launch Balloons?

America: No, we just stand up and sing “Take Me Out….

Japan: This balloon launch is going to be great! We’ll make ours look like…

President Taft is spinning in his humongous gave somewhere.

1:50: I should note, there doesn’t appear to be any beer in the stands. They are doing this out of joy for the game. How honorable and goofy. Also, we’re headed for some free baseball. EXTRA INNINGS.

2:08: My beer is done and the game continues. Of course I picked the longest game to watch. Mid Tenth, still 3-3.

2:14: Sometimes, even in Japan, baseball is boring to watch.

2:30: The trumpeters look exhausted. no hits to mention and it is still 3-3 heading to the 12th.

2:45: Two on for the Tigers, HIT! men are rounding bases, the end is in sight. Tigers 5 – Carp 3. It looks like after a 5-game losing streak the Tigers might pull this one out and extend their division lead back to 4.5 games. A half-inning left.

2:52: Down to their final out, with no men on, the Carp do not bunt and are punished by the gods with a slow ground out to second base. Game over and all (including me) are exhausted. We now join the Kelly Slater mini-surf documentary “Into the Pipeline”, already in progress…


Global Frequency
August 16, 2008, 3:28 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Just put my first Saturday where I had all of my classes in the books. I have great students on Saturday. Each of them do an excellent job being attentive in class. They also each have a way of keeping the material interesting (read: silly) and fun which is a big benefit to me.   In some classes I probably learn more than them, and I’m being paid for this.

Today, for instance,  I learned where several  mid-major Japanese cities are located (my status of former Geography Bee runner-up has its limitations, there are still things I have yet to master,mid size Japanese metropolises being one of them) as well as some information on giant telescopes.

Still, eight classes in one day can take its toll. Often,  by 8pm my voice starts to fade and most of my whiteboard markers are dead–today Blue was the lone survivor, better luck next week Red, Green, and Black

It also doesn’t help that I neglected to eat all day (an increasingly common Saturday habit), or that I encountered my first “child tantrum”. The kodomo  meltdown all started three minutes before class when we decided to let one of the 5 year-olds watch some “Tom & Jerry” in the lobby before class. The start time for the class came and I knew it was coming immediately. Frankly I agree with him; I’m not as Interesting as Tom, Jerry, or the combination of the two.

The boy did not want to get out of his chair so the great process began. There was negotiating, followed by  demands, then bribing, and eventually threats accompanied by “stern” parental discipline.  In the end, no wins and no one forgets,and the kid will have to wait until next year ot learn about the possibilities of the letter “K” (hint: Koala).

Asa result, I now find myself enjoying the comforts of home and the sophisticated bliss of the beginning of a new Barclay’s Premier League season (“English soccer league” for the American readership). Currently, I am in my Japanese apartment, sitting on my “modernesque” reclining floor-chair, eating an American grilled cheese, drinking a 24oz Kirin’s Draft Beer and watching two English football matches (one of the TV special Cable channel I purchased, and another via the internet) neither of which is being broadcast in a language I have achieved any sort of fluency in.  The television match is in Japanese, and the computer match happens to be in espanol. Top that, Globe Trekker!

Let’s face it, right now, I am the most worldly person you know and I’m just sitting at home on a Saturday night.

Tomorrow though I will get out and explore…and maybe have some dry cleaning done, which I assume will be quite the challenge. Does anyone know the Japanese for “light starch”? I’m thinking of trying out “Light, starch-o”…