Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Iwakuma Is “as Thin as a Flag Pole”? That Got Me to Wonderin’

The rivalry between Japan and South Korea extends a lot deeper than who scores the most runs in a game. There is still lingering friction between the countries because Japan invaded Korea and officially annexed it in 1910. The Japanese did not leave until after World War II ended in 1945.

Although Japan left more than six decades ago, there are still Koreans who remember those years or who have been told stories about the experience. The countries have a relationship, but it is more a grudging association than a friendly rapport.

Now the Japanese and the South Koreans will have to wait four years before they potentially meet in another Classic. The wait will undoubtedly feel much longer for the South Koreans. But the Japanese will savor every day between now and then because they can call themselves the best in the world. Suzuki made sure of that.
This story implies a symmetry that isn’t there. If you don’t believe me, here’s a thought experiment: Which would have been more satisfying to the average Korean/Japanese fan, beating the Japanese/Korean team for the championship or the U.S. team?

Incidentally, Iwakuma is listed at 86 kilos, or about 190 pounds, not the “169 pounds” that made “Iwakuma [look] as thin as a flag pole as he stood on the mound.” He’s thin, but no one actually watching the game would have mistaken him for a flagpole, or even Randy Johnson. This is but a small example of the dangers of replacing real journalism with your imagination.


guydetrop said...

If people think Iwakuma looks like a flagpole now, what would they have called him back when he was a rookie and REALLY skinny. He looked like the hero in a shonen baseball manga. He's beefed up a lot. I don't think it's steroids -- it's probably more like an effect of getting married.
A great pitcher with a lethal slider.

Jun Okumura said...

guydetrop: I think you’re right, though years of weight training will also help you fill out. You only have to watch the high school games to see how skinny they are coming into the pros. Even Kiyohara looked…normal back in the day. I struck out my comment on Iwakuma because he was listed on the Rakuten website at the kilo equivalent of 169 pounds. But he certainly looked heavier in the championship game, no Randy Johnson he.