I was going to attempt to cull some things from the internet yesterday and write about them, but I am having a difficult time thinking about anything else but the recent events in Japan. It’s kind of difficult for me to sit here in my comfy home or office building whining about baseball when there is so much going on in the rest of the world. The past few posts I have had to work pretty hard to get out, and I often feel like I should try as hard as possible to tune out for a while, just to get a break – but tuning out doesn’t make things better, and it definitely doesn’t make things go away.
Regardless of which team you follow, you probably have a Japanese player somewhere in your organization’s system. I know that there are still differences between Japanese and US baseball both in theory and in practice, but regardless of the differences, there is still that link of the game between our two countries. A lot of Japanese players are well-known by both AL and NL fans, and US scouts go to Japan fairly routinely to check what’s going on over there so they can bring it over here, while US players who find themselves without a home here go to Japan to renew or continue their careers. I feel that our cultures have a bond that way. I harbor the same feelings about Cuba and Central/South America, but I don’t have as much exposure to the game in those countries as I probably should.
As a Mariners fan, I’ve been witness to both Ichiro and Kenji Johjima. I’ve observed their AL counterparts, and have been in awe of some of the skill I’ve seen from these talented players. I also try and get over to Marinerds and read what Deanna has to say about the Japanese league whenever I can (Deanna, by the way, is currently in the states and is fine, though last I heard she had not heard from her friends yet), and look at her wonderful photos from her many trips to see games all over Japan. It’s just part of the way things are in the world of baseball for me. So my heart goes out to the country of Japan, the players and their families, the people who have lost their lives or loved ones, their homes or property, and their general sense of security. Anyone who knows me well knows that earthquakes – of which I’ve experienced two – are one of my biggest fears. I cannot imagine what these people have gone through, and watching the video over the past few days has been a terrifying and sobering experience.
There was so much information coming out when it first happened – local news started trying to alert people (in their own special way – but I won’t go down that road at the moment) about the possibility of minor tsunami action on our shores, tapes of the destruction were played and played again…it didn’t even hit me about the players until after the first 24 hours. And currently, they’re dealing with a nuclear issue with some of the plants there and the possibility of nuclear meltdown. Japanese engineering seems to have given the officials there a bit of an advantage, but the possibility is still there. They do have to deal with earthquakes frequently there, but nobody could have seen something like this. So when I heard on Q13 News about Ichiro initially refusing to talk to even the Japanese press, and then this article from Larry Stone talking about the extended Mariners family, then this one talking about more of the players around both leagues and their families and friends, it started to hit home a little more. This situation has a lot more effect than just Japan or just baseball , and depending on what happens with the power plants, it could have an even worse effect still.
I guess what I wanted to say here is that these events have been overwhelming, and make me feel terribly guilty for trying to gloss over it here, and writing about Alex Liddi securing his spot with the Tacoma Rainiers, or the fact that Aquasox catcher Steve Baron hit two doubles off Felix Hernandez during today’s early intra-squad game (B-game?). I don’t know what else I would do in this space instead, but it’s hard to focus.
There is something we can all do in the interim, though, so if you can afford it, I would encourage you to donate. I know for sure that Doctors Without Borders is there delivering medical care, and so is the International Red Cross. Japan has a good infrastructure for dealing with earthquakes, so I have not heard about many other organizations flocking to the country, but one thing people do and will need there is medical care and supplies, and DWB provides that. I very much admire their organization.
Also, while I’m on the topic of earthquakes, I should probably mention that Haiti is still in a great deal of trouble. They do not have the infrastructure to deal with earthquakes, or much of anything else. Partners In Health is still working there, as is the IRC, and another organization called OxFam, that I donated to after helping organize a musical benefit back when the Phuket, Thailand tsunami hit in 2004. They are all reputable organizations, and your donation will definitely go where it needs to go to help people who have been hit by these natural disasters.
I know this post isn’t really technically about baseball, but I view the world of baseball and its fans as an extended family. We are all an extended family of sorts. Give if you can.