3 min read

Friday, June 23, 2023

Good morning and welcome. Close reading will be rewarded this week: try to guess the issue's theme!

Tom Selleck, very tall, in a baseball uniform blowing a big bubble with his gum. Unfamous asian man, not as tall, looks up at the bubble in astonishment. Also there's a Japanese flag coming out of the bubble for some reason.
I love to wear my logoless baseball uniform!

There's a 1992 movie called Mr. Baseball, which is about a washed-up American baseball player who gets relegated to Japan's pro league. It's a classic fish-out-of-water comedy, filled with all the cultural insensitivity you might expect - yes, the trailer does use "Turning Japanese" multiple times, along with the sound of a gong for no particular reason. The film was not particularly successful critically or at the box office.

Two points. 1) Despite its many dumb xenophobic jokes, which I personally would not have made the centerpiece of the marketing campaign for the film, Mr. Baseball is a pretty fun movie and Tom Selleck is very good in it. 2) In addition to being a pretty fun movie, it's still used as a primer by foreign players who end up in the (now much higher profile) Nippon Professional Baseball league.

Leon Lee, the movie's baseball adviser, made sure the game action was realistic, but also clearly wanted to show respect for Japanese culture and the real experience of playing there:

“I was not going to be a part of something that made fun of the Japanese game,” Lee said of the film. “I played 10 years there, and I wasn’t going to belittle it. For Americans going over there, it’s easy to let your ego get in the way and say, ‘Why am I doing this? Why am I doing that?’ But when you get back home, you realize you actually became a better ballplayer. The Japanese also really emphasize teamwork. Any human being from any part of the world is going to find real joy in the camaraderie that comes from being part of a team in Japan.”

Despite what I said up there about how it's still used by foreign players today, I couldn't help noticing that the central example cited in the story, Rex Hudler, is a guy who started playing there so soon after the movie came out that he saw it on the plane ride to Japan.

Item 2: a list

NHL team names, ranked

  1. Pittsburgh Penguins
  2. Colorado Avalanche
  3. Detroit Red Wings
  4. Montreal Canadiens
  5. Winnipeg Jets
  6. Boston Bruins
  7. New Jersey Devils
  8. Edmonton Oilers
  9. Philadelphia Flyers
  10. San Jose Sharks
  11. Buffalo Sabres
  12. Toronto Maple Leafs
  13. Seattle Kraken
  14. Tampa Bay Lightning
  15. Calgary Flames
  16. New York Rangers
  17. Arizona Coyotes
  18. Vegas Golden Knights
  19. Minnesota Wild
  20. Dallas Stars
  21. Florida Panthers
  22. Carolina Hurricanes
  23. Los Angeles Kings
  24. Columbus Blue Jackets
  25. Ottawa Senators
  26. Chicago Blackhawks
  27. New York Islanders
  28. Anaheim Ducks
  29. Washington Capitals
  30. Vancouver Canucks
  31. Nashville Predators
  32. St. Louis Blues

Item 3: a media recommendation

Mondo Duplantis' 2017 record-breaking high jump

I saw this via Defector so long ago that it seemed reasonable to include an embedded Twitter video, which it no longer does. For this reason I recommend that you watch the YouTube video instead, and pair it with the blog post about it by the estimable David Roth.

Also of note: Mondo Duplantis was 17 at the time of this jump. And Mondo Duplantis is the perfect name for this guy.

Item 4: word of the week


We must apply all of our influence - be it political, economic, personal, or coercive - to extirpate the designated hitter from every corner of Major League Baseball. Let the throwing boys hit.

Item 5: a photograph

Speaking of Iconic Photos... this is what happens when you let people in a hurry refuel mid-race.

See ya!

For those who couldn't figure it out, this week's theme was "sports". Thanks as always for reading. See you next Friday.

("Mighty Ducks" would have ranked much higher, by the way.)