Friday, March 24, 2006

The Great Sadaharu Oh

Since Japan won the World Baseball Classic, the team manager Sadaharu Oh (a man of non-Japanese lineage who has gained the rare honor of being accepted as Japanese in Japan) has been in the news a lot. He has the career home run record in Japan, and I believe in the world. I remember this fact being mentioned when Hank Aaron was going for the home run record in the 70s. Of course there was some debate about the comparability of the US record and the Japanese record because Japanese park was so much smaller than American baseball parks.

I remember him for something that happened more recently. In 2001, Tuffy Rhodes, an American baseball played had tied Oh's single season record of 55 home runs. When he faced Oh's pitchers with a chance of breaking the record, Oh's pitchers would not pitch to him, throwing 2 strikes of 18 pitches. It wasn't because the game was on the line, it was because they, and Oh, did not want his record broken. They, and Oh, cheated. Period. Japan's baseball commissioner at the time, Hiromori Kawashima, said that walking Rhodes so much was, "completely divorced from the essence of baseball, which values the supremacy of fair play." Oh insisted that he was "out of the loop" of the decision to refuse to pitch to Rhodes. He said it was the pitcher's decision and he couldn't tell his pitchers what to do.

I completely lost all respect for that "man" and consider him as someone who hadn't the personal courage to see his record broken.

Of course, since this is Japan, I must self-censor, so I will state that naturally this may all be lies made up by Americans and some bad Japanese. Even if it is true, it probably happens all the time, even worse in other countries, especially the evil US. End censorship.

A lot of Japanese are very happy with the Cuban player's remark intended to insult American players about baseball not being about money, as if Japanese players are not getting paid huge---by Japanese standards---salaries, or as if Ichiro and Matsui et al, have refused their big fat American baseball salaries to play just for the fun of it.

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