Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Requisite Johjima Post

I've mostly avoided posting about him because I'm not really a rumor person and I figured I could wait until an actual signing happened. But, hey, if it's on mlb.com, it's good enough for me! If you want to know my opinion on it, I look at this as the Mariners getting a good catcher and the Hawks losing another power hitter, which means next year should be even more interesting in the Pacific League. Will Lotte be able to repeat the feat? Anyway, the thing is, I feel like I keep repeating myself in various blogs because people keep asking the same questions, so I'm just going to say a few things here and then not say them again.

Most of you probably know all of these already, so bear with me.

1) Japanese players use English letters on their jerseys, not any of the Japanese writing systems. The Korean Baseball Organization uses Hangul on their uniforms (as shown here, from the Konami Cup) and the Chinese Professional Baseball League use Kanji on their uniforms (shown here, same). But the Japanese use English letters.

2) While arguing over the spelling of "Johjima" vs. "Jojima" seems silly, I personally always spell it "Johjima" because that's what he has on his uniform. If he chooses to put "Jojima" on his uniform here, I'll start spelling it that way. I promise!


EDIT> It does appear on the Mariners Roster as "Johjima", so there you have it. And we have #2 available for him, of course.

2a) As a side note, I do think it's sort of funny that Akinori Otsuka (大塚) and Tomokazu Ohka (大家) share the same starting kanji in their names, but choose to spell it differently in English, but hey, again, it's subject to different romanization systems, so whatever. (Also, this is not the same "Oh" kanji as in Sadaharu Oh (王).)

3) Whee, projection fun. Jim Albright is pretty good at this stuff, and he did one for Johjima a bit ago here. Of course, he wasn't taking into consideration the idea of him playing in a righty-killer field like Safeco, which is why I'm more pessimistic in my guess in the thread on Lookout Landing -- I said .287/.355/.445, 13 HR, 65 RBI, 30 BB, 65 K. I'm also mostly looking at how Iguchi came over as my basis, since he and Johjima are close in age, played on the same team in the same stadiums against the same pitching over the same time period in Japan, both right-handed batters, put up similar batting/power numbers at that, and are going to be in the same league in the MLB.

4) "The Language Issue".

Now, the main thing is that the fundamental words that he'll need to communicate, like the different pitches, are pretty much the same between Japanese and English. I'm sort of doing stupid romanization here, but you get the idea:

ファストボール - fahsuto-bohru - fastball
ストレート - sutoraito - straight (fastball)
カーブ - kahbu - curve
スライダー - suraidah - slider
スプリッター - supureetah - splitter
フォークボール - fohku-bohru - forkball
シンカー shinkah - sinker
シュート shooto - sinking fastball
ナックルボール nahkuru-bohru - knuckleball

A couple of months ago, I was "watching" a Japanese game online on their version of Gameday (since the CL didn't have any teams doing video webcasts), and I screenshot the Japanese Java app because it was amusingly broken on Hiroki Kokubo's at-bat, but you can see here some of the various pitches I just mentioned:

kokubo at-bat

Of course, sure, there are other issues in communication besides just calling pitches. Like coming out to the mound and just calming down a guy or whatever. But I think Johjima's a smart guy and he'll pick up English as he goes along; they've got interpreters around when it's really really necessary, and of course, there were foreign pitchers that he caught in Japan. (Also, I still love Warren Cromartie's story about calming down Tatsunori Hara by talking about "bokusa doggu"; scroll to bottom) So yeah. I'm not too worried about the communication; I'm worried about him getting up to speed on what pitches to call for people. He's been mostly dealing with the same 5 teams over and over again in Japan, so learning an entirely new set of batters in a new game could be pretty challenging.

But in all honesty, this is new ground, right? We won't know how it works out for real until next season when he's put to the test.

5) Hey, let's all go out and learn Johjima's cheer song! Wheeeee! From here, where you can also get a midi file of it:

凄い若鷹だ どこまでも飛ばす レフト越えフェンス越え スタンドまで飛ばせ
sugoi wakataka da / dokomade mo tobasu / lefto koe / fensu koe / stando made tobase!

This loosely means (with corrections for my sleepy translation), "A great young hawk, hits the ball everywhere! Over left! Over the fence! Into the stands, let it fly!"

Referring to where he usually hits the ball, I suppose. Cheer songs don't always exactly make sense... also, I think it'd probably piss him off if anyone actually sang it here.

No comments: