It’s true, Japan roves baseball. They’ve got a professional league of their own (minus Tom Hanks and Rosie O’Donnel), colossal nationwide high school tournaments, and a strong devotion to Major League Baseball. Consequently, I find that I’ve come all this way to see more Yankees hats. My buddy Mike would love it here! I hope Americans don’t mind but I have told my coworkers that the most popular baseball teams are the Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, Cubs, and Dodgers…. $hit I forgot the Milwaukee Brewers. My bad?
Regardless, there is a serious looking chap who sits opposite me in the office. He looks like the offspring of Dracula and an Asian Frankenstein’s monster. An intimidating man, who used to only refer to me as Stephen-San. “Not a fan buddy’o’pal. The name’s Cravak-Sensei.” Of course I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t try to make friends with this “tuff crowd.” Luckily, thanks to yet another casual office chat, it became apparent that Mr. Asian Monster LOVES baseball. I even found an online quiz about American players in Nihon (Japan), had my supervisor translate and this dude ended up scoring a 90%. We bonded. Though, I was unaware of the consequences.
Apparently, this guy has no qualms about abusing the printer. Within minutes I was assaulted with several printouts of famous MLB players. He printed out at least three Reggie Jackson’s. I tried to show him a YouTube video of Reggie Jackson attempting to shoot the Queen in the movie Naked Gun, but thanks to our school’s firewall that wasn’t happening. So anyways, when you’re given something in Japan, you must graciously accept it with two hands and stare at for it awhile. Especially business cards. They ROVE their business cards. The most important part though is that you just can’t tuck it away somewhere. So thanks to my new found friendship, my workspace is now cluttered with black and white photos of Reggie Jackson, Mike Mattingly and who the hell knows who else.
Besides trying to impress me, I thought perhaps he just wanted me to provide him with something baseball related…so I pondered, and boy did I deliver. I discovered that his favorite team was the Rakutan Golden Eagles, and it just so happened this was the very team I was going to see in a few days. After traveling to the bustling metropolis of Sendai to see them lose in an excitingly wet game to the Chiba Lotte Marines (special thanks to Melanie for organizing, and Chris and Bec for driving!) I picked up a stellar piece of omiyage (souvenir) in the form of a Golden Eagles pen and the official program. On Monday morning, I hand delivered these gems in a Golden Eagles plastic bag. I couldn’t understand what he said, but I knew he appreciated it when later that day I received a color printout of White Sox superstar Jim Thome. Not only did I not stop the borage of printouts, but the man evolved into COLOR. Here’s to you Mr. Baseball…may your love of baseball continue to harm the environment and clout my desk!