The first baseball sighting was on the tube the other night. The Yankee network YES had the brilliant idea of showing a game last summer with Masahiro Tanaka facing the Tokyo Giants.
American broadcasters, aware of Japanese subtleties, were calling the game, pitch-by-pitch.
In real time, Tanaka was chartering a jet to get to New York.
My reaction to watching him pitch in the Tokyo Dome -- against those classic orange-and-black-trimmed Giants uniforms -- was that Tanaka was poised, and had a variety of pitches, but not a lot of power.
Will he be able to find the extra 5 mph he will need in MLB? Not evident from the few innings I saw. That's the Yankees' problem.
More important, I saw baseball being committed. Saw a dandy over-the-shoulder basket catch by a second baseman. And I saw a Giants pitcher wince when he did not get a third strike call from the umpire. Sure enough, he fell apart, started to groove the ball, and gave up four runs. Baseball in mid-season form, with all its human imperfections.
I did have one flashback. Playing for Rakuten was Kazuo Matsui, now 38 -- the other Matsui, as he is known in Queens. He is still the only major-league player to lead off three straight seasons with a home run, but Mets fans celebrated when he went to Colorado early in 2006. The Yankees kept their Matsui, much longer.
Now the Yankees have Tanaka and the Mets have Matsuzaka.
Meantime, my high-school pal Thor Larsen visited Scottsdale the other day and took a photo of the stadium, just waiting for
pitchers and catchers. Stay warm.
With the arrival of LED lighting, which costs so little to burn, every house has become an island of illumination, every city a blazing forest fire of artificial light. In my own backyard, it’s hard to enjoy the full moon because so many of our neighbors now leave their lights on all night long. And that’s without the holiday displays, each one bright enough to guide an airplane from the sky and land it safely in the middle of our street.
---Margaret Renkl, The New York Times, Dec. 21, 2022.