Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A lie

A Lie

During last night's All-Star Game, the Buck n' McCarver Show decided to fall over themselves to praise Ichiro Suzuki--his speed, his situational hitting, and most of all his amazing hand-eye coordination.

It made me a little angry, and not just in that normal, every day way that Tim McCarver makes me angry.

See, these guys haven't seen anything when it comes to Ichiro's hand-eye coordination.

Back in the day, I was spending some time in Japan. Japan has many things I enjoy: lots of bright, shining lights; a culture that values being quiet while on public transportation; and the neverending ability to make me the tallest person in the room. I spent several years in Japan.

During my time there, I befriended a young street urchin by the name Ichiro Suzuki. I met him when he was trying to boost tires off my crime-fighting van. After a brief scuffle that resulted in a couple of broken thumbs (mine) and an arrest for headbutting a young Ichiro nearly to death, Ichiro and I became fast friends.

Ichiro visited me in Japanese Jail every day. Brought me American Fast Food and gave me reason to get through each day. Honestly, if you've never been in Japanese Jail, I don't recommend it. The temptation to punch through the paper walls is too difficult to overcome. I always seemed to forget that there were several tiny men with taser sticks waiting on the other side of the walls, waiting to electrocute the Gaijin Headbutt Machine (their nickname for me) into unconsciousness. I think it was a badge of honor for them.

Well, in April of 1993, I was released from Japanese Jail. It was kinda like that scene when Red gets to leave Shawshank Prison, except I was screaming "Don't Electrocute Me Anymore!" as I sprinted from the prison.

Who was waiting for me, but Ichiro?

Ichiro explained that he was impressed at my ability to headbutt him into oblivion despite his wearing samurai armor. He owed me what I came to understand was something like a Wookiee Life Debt.

I was impressed by his dedication to me through my stint in Japanese Jail, and by his ability to turn into a tornado by uttering the words "Koze Neyo Ne Haiku."

He taught me the ins and outs of the Japanese Culture.

And I introduced him to the magic that is the game of baseball. It was a great feeling to pass along all that I knew about that magical game. I finally knew how it felt to be a father, and to have a son surpass me in my ability and greatness. It didn't lessen the impact of that moment at all to have it come roughly 20 minutes after I'd first said the words "This is how you play baseball."

Reports that I also uttered the phrase "you play your stupid fucking game, then" and stormed off into the Nagasaki night are false.

Anyway. Hand-Eye coordination.

There was one afternoon, when I went to congratulate my friend Ichiro on his acceptance to Japanese Baseball and Samurai University, and we went out for a night on the town in Osaka. We hit every bar in town, and well, you know the saying: You don't buy sake, you just rent it.

We found a Wendy's for me to use the can. And let me say this about Japanese Toilets: I prefer America. Seriously. I still don't understand all the hoses and switches. Let's find an importer/exporter to send a few porcelain toilets to the Far East, and civilize that country. I've probably pissed in more corners in Japan than any country north of the equator.

Anyway, after ridding myself of excess sake, I decided that while I was in Wendy's, I might as well have a Frosty. Well, after much shouting and screaming at the counter, I came to a realization: I wasn't getting a Frosty. To this day, I don't know if it was because I was so drunk, or becuase the Frosty machine was broken, or they were just out of the wonderful ice cream treat. Mostly because I don't speak that mess they call a language.

A young Japanese girl explained it to me. An older Japanese man, her manager, I supposed, explained it to me, and Sumo legend Akebono came out and explained it to me. Which ever way you turned it, I finally decided that I wasn't getting a Frosty.


Well, Ichiro was there, the whole time. Just over my right shoulder. He always stayed just behind my right shoulder, ready to spring into action. Which sounds cool, but it makes the following situations uncomfortable:

  1. Reaching over my right shoulder to buckle my seat belt--I was constantly elbowing Ichiro in the eye
  2. Making time with a lady friend. Having a Japanese Sidekick (even if it is Ichiro) in the room, tends to throw most ladies off their game.
  3. The aforementioned bathroom thing. You try taking a whiz with the World's Greatest Baseball Player standing right over your shoulder. Also, it's hard to impress ladies when they see your sidekick following you into the bathroom stall. There were several attempts to keep this from happening, but they usually ended with Ichiro smacking me with his katana.

But this time, at Wendy's, having Ichiro over my right shoulder came in handy. Like I said, no Frosty for your pal BSTommy. Well, there was a small amount of change on the counter. 3 coins. If you've read this far (God Bless You), you'll remember that three folks were at the counter, shouting in their gibberish Japanese language that I would got no Frosty.

It is only in retrospect that I realize that Akebono was speaking English...he was from Hawaii...I think the topknot and 4XL kimono threw me off.

However...all were yelling, and finally Ichiro sprang into action.

Lightning quick, he lashed out with a stunning heel kick against the counter. The three coins on the counter (worth roughly 42,000 yen) leapt into the air. Ichiro spun in the air, and flicked each coin in succession with his middle finger, and sent it hurtling through space into the foreheads of the two Wendy's employees and the sumo legend, knocking them out.

It was right around then that I decided to leave Japan. It was something having to do with that event, and the fact that I could be sure of finding Frosties in America; and also the fact that the Japanese "authorities" were making me leave, saying that my game of "Juggernaut," where I'd run through numerous paper walls, was causing havoc for the Japanese economy.

So. Tim McCarver can say all that he wants to about Ichiro's Hand-Eye coordination. He wasn't there at that Wendy's, that night in Osaka. Although, if he was, I'm sure he'd mention it about as much as he mentions the fact that he caught Bob Gibson.


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