I'm a great baseball fan; always was, from elementary school days following the Cubbies, till now, with my current love affair with Ichiro. (It never fails to irk me that he plays on a team that generally ends up in last place in the American League; sigh.)
Some years I've been glued to the set most mornings, when the night games are televised in Japan, or have set the timer to the VCR, to enjoy a game later on, at my leisure. But in recent years, I haven't had as much fever when it comes to baseball...and I usually forget to even check the TV Guide to see who is playing whom and when the game'll be on. I feel like I'm asleep in the stands!
I root for the teams with Japanese players on them, as a rule; I am fiercely proud Ichiro hails from the area in which we live, only about three towns away. You can't blame me for this. I watch Japanese news, sports and weather every day, and people are always influenced by the media. I see interviews of prominent sports figures and learn to love them, just as the Japanese do. So it's totally natural for me to root for the Japanese Olympic athletes and have no sense of identification with American athletes I have never heard of or see very little of.
But in MLB, my favorite Japanese players are playing with American baseball players, so I have gotten to know and love a lot of the guys on the Mariners, Yankees, & Red Sox teams. I'm also familiar with a number of players on other American League teams they are constantly up against. (I haven't followed the National League since my youth cheering for the Cubs, so I tend to ignore even the NL teams with Japanese players on them.)
This morning I remembered to check the MLB channel rather late, and tuned in to the Yankees'/Rangers' game just after the 7th inning stretch. I thought I'd heard the announcer wrong when he referred to the Yankees' catcher as Pudge. That's the Tigers' catcher, I thought. Then, in the ninth inning, Pudge Rodriguez steps to the plate to bat for the Yankees...wait a minute...huh? When did he change uniforms???
The next batter gave me an even greater start...Richie Sexson (the no. 4 man on the Mariner's standard lineup), pitch hitting for the Yankees. Now, hold up... what is wrong with this picture??? When the heck did these guys get traded to the Yankees? And who got traded away in their places???
Sure enough, I've been asleep in the stands. It's time to start hanging out at MLB.com again!!!