Skip to content

March 29, 2009

Will Ichiro ever win the Mariners a World Series?

You You Gotta Have Wa by Robert Whiting Celebrates Twenty Years of Harmony in Baseball-Not

March 26, 2009
whiting1Robert Whiting is the author of several highly acclaimed books on Japanese baseball and contemporary culture. Whiting has written for The New York Times, The Smithsonian, Sports Illustrated, Time, Newsweek, Slate, and US News and World Report.He has also written ten books in Japanese, mostly collections. “You Gotta Have Wa,” published in 1989, is a work on Japanese society as seen through their adopted sport of baseball, was a Book of the Month Club selection and is required reading in the Japanese Studies departments of many American universities. “The Meaning of Ichiro” (2004), a sequel, examines the impact of Japanese players in the United States. “Tokyo Underworld” (2000) is being made in to a feature film by Warner Brothers, directed by Martin Scorsese.
He is currently working on the sequel to Tokyo Underworld and is writing a biography on Hideo Nomo.

Interview with Robert Whiting

Check out the updated 2009 version

Check out the updated 2009 version

The Rising Score: You must be thrilled with getting a chance to update a baseball classic in You Gotta Have Wa? How and why do you think you got the go ahead from your publishers to do this?

Robert Whiting: Random House had a 20 year lease on the rights,  which were set to expire  this year. The book was dated in some respects, so they asked me to write 12,000 new words describing how things have changed.

The Rising Score: Over the last twenty years baseball has changed dramatically, why is Asia dominating in the international competitions such as the Olympics and the WBC?

Robert Whiting: MLB won’t allow their top players to take time off in mid-season to play in the Olympics. Japan and Korea will. As for the WBC, Japan and Korea take it seriously. Their players start training in January and are really at the top of their game by the time the tourney starts. MLB players (and fans) think the WBC is a meaningless exhibition and they refuse to put in the advance training that is necessary. They seem to view the WBC tourney as just another warm up for the season, and not a matter of national pride and honor, as it is in Japan and Korea.   MLB created this tourney to expand the world market for their merchandise. The irony of it is that most MLB Gm’s don’t want their players to participate, for fear of injury. What matters in America is the 162 game season and the playoffs. That’s why you see such low attendance and TV ratings for games involving Team USA  in America–as opposed to Japan and Korea where the ratings are off the charts in their respective countries. Also, MLB players put too much emphasis on the big home run and the 100 mph fastball, while ignoring the fundamentals of the game.  But, in a short tournament, it’s the little things–advancing the runner, hitting to the opposite field,  making the plays, etc–that help a team win. As we saw in this tourney, Japan is superior at that sort of thing.

The Rising Score: The NPB still has the four foreign player rule. Do you think, with their recent success, that they may consider dropping foreign players and try to create a Gaijinless team like the powerhouse Giants in the seventies? Pre Davey Johnson….

Robert Whiting: That’s an interesting idea, but it would be pointless as long as Japan’s top stars keep emigrating to the States.

The Rising Score: From your experience, how has the average  NPB clubhouse changed from the heyday of Warren Cromartie and Randy Bass concerning foreign players?

Robert Whiting: Japanese are much more accustomed to foreign players than they were 20 years ago. There is a lot more information available about the American way of thinking  thanks to the years of accumulated experience in dealing with the gaijin, the advent  of satellite tv and the internet, and the experience of Japanese players playing in America. Accordingly there is a lot more information available to Americans about the Japanese way of doing things. There is more acceptance than there used to be.

The Rising Score: Ichiro selected Samurai Japan’s name. As you know the Samurai died off about a hundred some years ago. What is it going to take for the Americans to beat the Samurais again? And do you think it will be a Phyrrhic victory in doing so?

Robert Whiting: The Japanese game, which dates back to the late 19th century,  is based on the philosophy of the martial arts, which was the purvey of the samurai.  That philosophy is one of endless training and the development of spirit. So, in that sense, the connection to the samurai is a real one. What it is going to take for the Americans to defeat the Japanese in a WBC, is earlier training and a return to the  basics of the game. Having said that, it is still not clear how a Japanese all-star team would do if it had to play 162 games in the MLB.  Their players train so hard they tend to run out of gas by August.

Japan Wins! Japan Wins!

March 24, 2009

Ichiro Wins! Korean Manager Please meet Grady Little.

Why are Japan and Korea in the World Baseball Classic Final?

March 24, 2009
They didn't like me too much in Japan

The  answer to this question is very simple. It comes in a one word answer.

TEAMWORK!

Davey Johnson just couldn’t get the camaraderie in the dugout as the Japanese team did.

Davey Johnson should know better because he did in fact play in Japan.

FLASHBACK!

In Japan

Davey Johnson – BR Bullpen. (Please go to the site for more on Davey Johnson)

After being let go by the Atlanta Braves in April of 1975, he played for the Tokyo Giants in Japan in 1975 and 1976. Johnson was the first foreign player for the Giants after they won a record nine straight Japan Series titles without any gaijinShigeo Nagashima personally selected Johnson to become the team’s first foreigner in over a decade and Johnson was to replace Hall-of-Famer Nagashima at third base. After predicting a 50-home-run season, Johnson hit just 13 HR. In June he set a Central League record by striking out in eight consecutive at-bats. Worse, his overall line was .197/.275/.356, a far cry from what Nagashima had been hitting. Davey became known as “Dame (No Good)” Johnson, was ridiculed by the press and fans. Additionally he lost almost 15% of his body weight and broke a bone in his shoulder to lose a month of playing time. For the first time ever, Yomiuri finished last and Johnson certainly deserved and received some of the blame. assistance. Manager

In January of 1976, Davey became one of the few Americans to participate in the “voluntary” training camps attended by practically all the Japanese players. He returned to play second base but injured his left thumb while sliding into a base and demanded to go to the USA to see a specialist; Nagashima refused and Johnson went against the most popular man in Japanese baseball (who had also gotten him his job). When Johnson went ahead to see Dr. Robert Kerlan in Los Angeles, CA the press began calling for a reinstitution of the Giants’ ban on gaijin. Kerlan said Johnson had an inflamed neroma and Davey sat out a couple weeks waiting to get a return visa to Japan, then (as per medical advice) neglected batting practice upon returning to action. He hit a game-winning grand slam in his first day back and homered 9 times in 12 games. He hit 18 HR in August and September – overall he hit .275/.365/.539 with 26 homers and hit the pennant-clinching homer. He won a Gold Glove and was named to the Best Nine. Johnson had done a goat-to-hero turn and Yomiuri went worst-to-first.

Despite promises from Nagashima that he was not required to take batting practice due to his injury, the Yomiuri coaches forced him to do so during the Japan Series. Johnson was 0 for 13 with 6 K’s in the post-season. Yomiuri GM Roy Saeki offered Johnson an $80,000 contract, a 20% pay cut. Johnson said he’d sign if Nagashima apologized for going back on his word. The manager/national hero refused and the Giants did not renew the contract, claiming Davey had made unrealistic demands. Giants star Tsuneo Horiuchi said “We don’t need any greedy gaijin” and fellow Yomiuri leader Sadaharu Oh criticized Johnson’s character.

The Kintetsu Buffaloes expressed interest in signing Johnson but the Giants barred the way, using their influence as the most popular and powerful team in Japan. Johnson, who had wanted to return to play and coach in Japan, returned to the US and had his best rate-stat season ever, posting a 150 OPS+ in part-time work for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1977 before fading away at age 35 in 1978.

for all you kids out there

TEAMWORK! TEAMWORK!  TEAMWORK!

BRINGS CHAMPIONSHIPS!

Japan(picture from an interesting blog)http://japanesebaseballcards.blogspot.com/


Interview with Itaru Kobayashi -Soft Bank Hawks Marketing Director -Part 1

March 17, 2009

Itaru Kobayashi is the Marketing director for the Soft Bank Hawks.

Enjoy….

Click here to listen to entire interview.

Debating the future growth potential of MMA as an industry | FightOpinion.com – Your Global Connection to the Fight Industry.

February 5, 2009

Debating the future growth potential of MMA as an industry | FightOpinion.com – Your Global Connection to the Fight Industry..

Will MMA save Japan ?

Read the article.

asahi.com(朝日新聞社):ICE HOCKEY: Asia League is on thin ice – English

January 29, 2009

asahi.com(朝日新聞社):ICE HOCKEY: Asia League is on thin ice – English.

This is not good for hockey fans in Japan.