Sometime before the sun comes up on New York Tuesday morning, the Boston Red Sox and Oakland A's will be facing off in a battle of baseball somewhere in Japan. It's a really stupid idea, if you ask me, to start our baseball season at 2:30 AM Pacific, but hey, that's why they pay Bud Selig the big bucks.
That's not to say I don't like and appreciate Japanese baseball. In fact, far from it. Here are ten really interesting things that I learned about Japanese baseball today. I hope you enjoy it as much as Josh Beckett does from his seat on the bench.
#10: They Do Weird Things With Stuffed Pigs
Watch the video below. Pay specific attention to the 30 second mark.
#9: Foreigners Are Not Allowed
Well, that's not totally true. The rule is much less ridiculous. There's a quota: Only four (4) foreigners allowed.
Let's look at my favorite team, the New York Mets. Well, their projected opening-day lineup, had everyone been healthy:
- Jose Reyes -- born in the Dominican Republic
- Luis Castillo -- also born in the DR
- Carlos Beltran -- born in Puerto Rico. That counts as part of the US, right?
- David Wright -- born in Virginia.
- Carlos Delgado -- also from PR.
- Moises Alou -- From Georgia. The state, not the former SSR.
- Ryan Church -- California. That's part of the US, sadly.
- Brian Schneider -- Florida
- Johan Santana -- Venezuela
#8: Speaking of El Duque
Maybe he can take this guy's job.
#7: Bobby Valentine is a Superstar There
Bobby Valentine is not just a master of many disguises. And he's not just a NPB manager. Nope. He's also a celebrity blogger, with his Official Blog sponsored by Big Fish Games -- makers of ... well, I can't read Japanese.
If you can, please tell me what the Big Fish is saying.
#6: They Redefine Bench-Clearing "Brawl"
Watch the video below. Pay specific attention to the whole freaking thing. What the...
(Okay, someone tells me they're Koreans here... in that case, Go Korea!)
#5: Waseda University: The Christopher Columbus of NPB
According to Wikipedia, it's stylish for Japanese college teams to cross the pond to learn more about the American game. One of the first teams to do so was that of Waseda University, located in Tokyo's Shinjuku neighborhood. Hiroshi Yamauchi, former president of Ninetendo, went there. Nevertheless, during his reign at Nintendo, the company failed to make any baseball game worth while. I know that because Nintendo has never made a good baseball game. Yeah, yeah, Baseball Stars was OK, but compared to Tecmo Super Bowl and even Mike Tyson's Punch Out and Double Dribble, it blew. and fielding was nearly impossible unless you had ESP or something. And have you noticed how bad the Seattle Mariners have been since Nintendo bought it?
#4: They Have Magic Uniforms
Why is "Play of the Day" in English?
#3: Mr. Sparkle
In Japan, teams are named after their sponsors -- e.g. the Nippon Ham Fighters are named after the team's owner, Nippon Ham (a subsidiary of Nippon Meat Packers, Inc.). The Ham Fighters, for example, don't play in a town called Nippon because, well, there is no such town. They play in Sapporo. Nippon? That's Japanese for "Japan".
Anyway, the reason that is cool?
Well, remember this episode of The Simpsons?
Yeah, that one. Where Homer sees his face on a box of Japanese detergent and is like, holy crap, they stole my face?! Yeah, you know.
Anyway, that logo is actually a meld of two big corporate logos -- a fish and a lightbulb -- and they call it Mr. Sparkle. Let's assume that the companies combined to call themselves something like, oh, AOL/TimeWarner, and they bought a team called, oh, the Atlanta Braves.
In the US, they'd also merge their logos and rename the team. So we'd have the Atlanta AOL/TimeWarner Mr. Sparkles, with a big picture of Homer J. Simpson on Chipper Jones's oversized head. Awesome.
We should totally do this.
#2: Because The Word "Pepitone" Means "Goof Off" There
Hey, who knew? Wikipedia did! From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Pepitone:
- In June of 1973, [[[Joe] Pepitone]] accepted an offer of $70,000 a year to play for the Yakult Atoms, a professional baseball team in Japan's Central League. While in Japan, he hit .163 with one home run and two RBIs in 14 games played. According to an edition of Total Baseball, Pepitone spent his days in Japan skipping games for claimed injuries only to be at night in discos, behavior which led the Japanese to adopt his name into their vernacular--as a word meaning "goof off".
#1: It Makes Tom Selleck Relevant
Magnum P.I. was a terrible show. Three Men and a Baby was a good movie, but let's face it, Tom Selleck sucked in it. And when Steve Guttenberg is better than you, wow, you suck. Like a Hoover on overdrive.
If you look at Selleck's filmography, it's really bad. Daughters of Satan? The Gypsy Warriors? Quigley Down Under? Ye gods! That's terrible!
I mean, Quigley Down Under'!
With "hits" like that, who needs failures? Well, Tom Selleck does, I guess. Because he also made the worst baseball movie ever -- Mr. Baseball.
Oh, wait, there's that Mr. 3000 movie "starring" Bernie Mac. And that weird Major League 3: Back to the Minors abortion. So I guess it's the third worst baseball movie ever.
Tom Selleck, we salute you.