Far East History
On the off chance you haven’t heard about it, it’s Clash of the Titans Act I tonight-Daisuke Matsuzaka vs. Ichiro Suzuki. No doubt Dice-K is anxious to repeat his first performance vs Ichiro, and Ichiro in turn would just love to knock another "shot heard round the world" (literally-Tokyo is just a little less than 7,000 miles from Fenway Park) off our new pitcher. By all accounts, though, these guys are friendly…until the game starts.
I’ve never travelled to the Far East, and know little about Japanese culture besides I love their cars (I drive a Subaru Legacy, the nicest car I’ve ever owned). So in honor of the historic meeting tonight, I’ve assembled my very own personal Top Ten Greatest Moments in Japanese Sports and Leisure:
10. The original "Shall We Dance?" was released in 1996. I saw it while on vacation in the Cape. Great movie. Far better than the Richard Gere version.
8. in 1959, Sadaharu Oh joins the Japanese big leagues and over the course of 22 seasons becomes the world’s all-time home run king, retiring in 1980 with a grand total of 868 big flys.
7. Toyota redesigned the Camry in 1992. Until then, it was a utilitarian vehicle, known more for function than style. After the ’92 makeover, it became the rock star of family sedans.
6. The Hanishin Tigers in 1985 win their first and only Japan Series championship, thus initiating the Curse of Colonel Sanders.
5. George Steinbrenner, ever the picture of decorum, calls Hideki Irabu a "fat p*ssy toad." Stay classy, Boss!
4. Japan wins the World Baseball Classic, Dice-K named MVP, just a harbinger of things to come.
3. Shizuka Arakawa wins a gold medal in figure skating in the 2006 Torino Olympics. Once every four years I care about figure skating, and she did a fabulous free skate that vaulted her past the two big favorites from the US and Russia. She had the best outfit on that night, too, as I recall. Blue sparkly thing.
2. Pedro Martinez gets Hideki Matsui to line out to right with the bases loaded and 2 out in the 6th inning of Game 5 of the 2004 ALCS, on his final pitch of the night, ending a Yankee threat to the Greatest Comeback in Baseball History.
1. Daisuke Matsuzaka makes his 2007 MLB debut in Kansas City, pitches brilliantly, goes on to win 20 games, ROY, the Cy Young and Game 7 of the World Series. Ok, I made that last bit up but in October I’ll come back to this!
Go Dice-K, Go Sox!