Is this real life?
The end of July is approaching and I’ve been fortunate enough to take in a lot – understatement – of baseball already this summer. After spring training action around Florida, I made it to Canisius College to speak with some of the 14 Canadians on the Division-I roster, I’ve been to see Toronto Blue Jays affiliates Lansing Lugnuts, Dunedin Blue Jays, New Hampshire Fisher Cats and the Buffalo Bisons on multiple occasions, I’ve covered the Canadian junior national team, USA Baseball, a little Arizona League action, some Pacific Coast League baseball, and even more.
After returning from a trip to Phoenix, Albuquerque and El Paso, with a brief stop at the Grand Canyon, it dawned on me that my next trip outside of either Canada or the United States will be to Tokyo, Japan.
I am privileged to say that Baseball Canada has temporarily added me to their staff as the press officer for the women’s national team as they participate in the World Cup in Miyazaki. It’s a very exciting opportunity and I am looking forward to absolutely every bit of it. Who wouldn’t?
Getting slightly off track, I have to stress that I will be covering women’s baseball. The kind that uses the little white ball with 108 stitches and is thrown overhand – sometimes sidearm – from a pitcher on a downward plane. Just so no one is confused.
Now that the trip is finally approaching, as I head to the west coast in a couple of weeks before the national squad is selected in Vancouver and we all take the long flight across the world, I am starting to look into the logistics of what I need help figuring out. One of my best friends and the Coordinator of Communications and Media Relations Nicole Watts has been trying to help me, since she just toured a little piece of Japan in January to take in some Davis Cup action. We’ve talked essentials, like what to bring, how much money to take out, how difficult the language barrier actually is, when to bow and that kind of stuff, but also what I need to do should there be time to get around.
One must-visit neighbourhood is Shibuya, and I’ve heard from several people – all of the people I know who have ever been to Japan – that I should try to get there. Nicole is also a big proponent of the robot restaurant and has convinced me that attending for a meal should be at the top of my priority list and I need to convince everyone around me that it should be on theirs as well. Then of course, karaoke, and my must-do, take in a game at the Tokyo Dome. Luckily, the entire women’s team and staff already have a Yomiuri Giants matchup against their rival on the agenda, along with a likely run-in with the Giants Canadian closer Scott Mathieson, whom I’ve heard described several times as a “rock star“.
Right now, my biggest concern for the trip is access to the Internet. I will need it for every aspect of the job, and also to keep people at home entertained with tweets, pictures, you know, important stuff.
I emailed Scott about it. We’ve spoken before via email, for pieces I’ve written on him and on several younger pitchers, like Ethan Stewart, in the Philadelphia Phillies system – where he was once a top-ranked prospect – who he’s mentored and who look up to him a great deal. Scott has always been more than happy to answer, especially in regards to offering praise about the young Canuck talent coming up through the ranks, and my Japanese Internet queries were answered almost immediately.
After kindly saying that he was looking forward to meeting all of us when we get to Tokyo, Scott indicated that the wireless Internet situation is actually not awesome. So that continues to be a concern. It does sound like there are portable hot-spot-type mechanisms for purchase at the airport upon landing, something Nicole also mentioned but wasn’t completely familiar with, but this needs to be investigated further.
Since I have no problems getting a wireless connection here at home, more writing can always be expected from me here. The most recent piece by me posted for the world today was one on junior national team member Keenan Williams, and can be found here if you’re interested.
Otherwise, I’ll be working on my Japanese.