Thursday, May 27, 2004

Moving to Osaka helped me reign in my life in many ways. One way in particular, was to cure me of my need to consume baseball.

Before I came to Japan, I used to be a much bigger baseball fan. A long time San Francisco Giants supporter, I would listen to or watch games as often as possible, attend maybe a dozen each season or BBQ and put a few back with the boys while watching one. The days and free moments following games were spent in preparation. I would read the various articles in the sports sections, pore over box scores and statistics in the newspaper or on the computer and argue with my baseball friends, while simultaneously sucking in as much sporstalk radio as I could stomach. I wouldn't say baseball was my life, but it was an impressive feature in it.

Since I've been in Osaka, I've lost much of my interest, partly due to the lack of options to watch or listen to good old Major League Baseball (MLB). The New York Yankees (NYY) and the Seattle Mariners are often shown on television here, but they just aren't my teams. I could pay to listen to audio or video broadcasts, which normally air when I'm sleeping, but then it just becomes something that, as my father would say, "nickels and dimes you to death," and I'm trying to cut-back on those costs. Sometimes, when I'm writing e-mail or doing other work at my computer, I follow a game using Gameday, a kind of 2-D computer representation of the games in progress, but if you think watching baseball is slow already, you've never experienced it on the internet. The time difference, which is 16 or 17 hours depending upon which part of the year it is, doesn't help either.

It's certainly not due to the lack of baseball in Japan, which is nearly manic about the sport. Osaka hosts two teams: The Hanshin Tigers (who won their division last season and played in the Japan championship series, coincidentally sporting uniforms which resemble those worn by the NYY) and the Kintetsu Buffaloes, who are generally viewed by the masses as a second-class team but, for the past few seasons, wielded one of the league's most powerful hitters.

Whatever the reason for my waning interest, I won't completely forget baseball. I simply don't have the time in an afternoon to kill a few hours watching a game. I never even turn my TV on, aside from the fact that everything on it is in Japanese. Nonetheless, I spent too much time over the years studying the game to forget about it completely; buying baseball cards, playing little league, scrabbling for autographs and foul-balls, attending games, throwing baseball parties. I have quite a few strong memories from baseball, which relate to different parts of my life, and that's a good thing.

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