It finally seems real.
With my next big trip – ending of course in JAPAN – just one Toronto Blue Jays homestand away, I’m pretty sure it’s almost safe to start counting down and looking forward to it. I wasn’t necessarily afraid to do such things before, but I guess I was a little bit nervous that the opportunity might all just be a dream.
I mean, come on. Someone asked me to go to Japan for baseball, to do absolutely everything that I love most. Baseball Canada is allowing me the chance to watch the game, talk the game, and write about the game, and from across the globe (funny sidebar, I actually typed ‘glove’ instead of globe, because that’s just what I do). But if you’re in any doubt that I love all of those things, you couldn’t be more wrong.
Someone once asked a scout I know what he thought of me and the scout told him that I am just a “baseball rat”. From my perspective, that is a very flattering and hopefully accurate description. I just want to soak in all things baseball, all the time. I want to keep learning about baseball, keep seeing things I’ve never seen before on the diamond, and there’s no place I’d rather be than at the ballpark.
Allowing me to take my talents to Japan – to suggest it and request it even – is something even I couldn’t have dreamed up, not in a million years, or whatever the accurate lifespan would be for me. I’ve been fortunate already over the last several years to cover America’s favourite pastime in my own wonderful country, all over the United States, and in Australia, but Japanese baseball is a whole other world.
So far in my experience, Japan seems like a magical, mythical place that I’ve only heard great things about – aside from Canadian hurler Chris Leroux‘s frustration over giving up too many slap-hit singles and throwing 75-pitch bullpens – and has produced incredible baseball robots like Ichiro Suzuki, and more recently guys like Yu Darvish, Koji Uehara and Masahiro Tanaka. I’ve heard the fans in Japan are enthusiastic, passionate, loud and knowledgeable, and the atmosphere at games is crazy awesome. It should be more than amazing, and that’s just the baseball part of it.
I do hope there will be time to explore the country but baseball is, of course, the top priority. And I am pretty sure the Canadian Women’s National Team has exhibition games every day we’re all in Tokyo before World Cup play begins in Miyazaki, so it would be tough to go very far or do too many things during whatever free time we are allotted. Plus, you can be sure that during any spare time I have I will be writing, taking pictures, producing posts, and filling up the Baseball Canada website, the Canadian Baseball Network site, and this blog, with content. I would also love to head to the robot restaurant while I’m there. That might be my second-highest priority.
Plus, I’m really hoping that I might be able to meet up with my good friend Alex Maestri, currently playing in Japan for the Orix Buffaloes. We became friends in Australia when he played for the Brisbane Bandits and I worked for the club. We, along with the other imports on that team in Queensland – Maestri was the first Italian-born pitcher to ever be drafted by a major league team and has also been a member of multiple Italian national teams who have beaten Team Canada in international play – spent a lot of time together and became close. I haven’t seen him since Australia, despite almost crossing paths in Arizona during the World Baseball Classic, and it would be great to do so across the world once more. The right-hander’s team plays about three hours outside of Tokyo, but I think his girlfriend lives in the big city so maybe I can just be a third wheel on a date or something, if I can convince him to make it or if I can somehow meet him.
In Miyazaki however, I think the women’s team and staff might have a scheduled off day, but during that time we are staying at a beautiful oceanside resort. Who would want to leave the wonderful – judging completely based on appearances, as always – Phoenix Seagaia Resort, with its four hotels, golf course, beach, entertainment, nature attractions, and something called the Ocean Dome? It seems simply amazing. So, there’s that.
If you’re looking for more information on Miyazaki, I can tell you that it’s somewhere around the southernmost point of Japan. I don’t want to be too specific just in case I’m wrong. This is basically how I avoid ever being wrong. That, and just always being right.
Also in case you were wondering, the average temperatures for August and September range from lows around 21 degrees Celsius (70ish degrees Farenheit) to highs up to 31 degrees Celsius (88ish Farenheit). That sounds pretty good to me.
I’m thinking my hardest decision might be choosing between the hotel pool, the Ocean Dome, or the actual ocean to cool off in. Jealous? Sorry, I’m not sorry. I promise to write posts with vivid detailing and flowery language, and filled with colourful, wonderful pictures of Japanese greatness. Just so long as everything is as fantastic as I expect it to be. Otherwise I might just do my best to convince you of that anyway, to save face on the whole living-the-dream thing.
So here I am, finally realizing that this trip is going to happen. I am heading to Japan for baseball, and it’s a thing that someone else actually asked me to do and arranged. I think I’ve learned how to say please and thank you – dozo and arigato – and I also looked up the translation for the word awesome, which I believe to be subarashi in Japanese. Key words for my way of living. I’m pretty pumped.
So let the countdown commence. There are three days left on the Blue Jays road trip – this is how countdowns work for me – and then a six-game homestand at Rogers Centre. As soon as the only team north of the border leaves the country again, I do too. I fly to the west coast, where I will have the opportunity to immediately take in my first Vancouver Canadians game, one my friend and Brisbane Bandits colleague Tom West happens to be umpiring, before hitting Seattle for a few days.
In Seattle I’ll get to reunite with some great friends from Baseball America, as well as catch the Jays against the Mariners for two, and take in a pre-season Seahawks contest against the San Diego Chargers. In case you missed it, the Seahawks won the Superbowl last year, and with former Canadian Junior National Team member and Toronto farmhand Luke Willson on the squad. Then it’s back to Vancouver for some more Northwest League action, and to meet the Women’s National Team.
Before long, we will all be boarding our flight to Japan. Our departure is sooner than it was yesterday, and getting closer. Pretty soon I can replace all of the Google Images with ones I’ve taken myself.
Should be amazing.