Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Lost in Translation?

Spring training is now officially here!

Beyond Mauer’s knees and Blackburn once again getting ‘Blackburned’ (a.k.a. ‘Bobby Abreued’) in the face, the biggest news story out of spring training so far has been, not surprisingly, Tsuyoshi Nishioka’s transition from Japan to the U.S. and Major League Baseball.

Most U.S. coverage of Nishi and his arrival in Florida (which, by the way, was way back on February 6th) has centered around the huge number of Japanese media members following him everywhere and the fact he worked out mostly alone, sans Twins gear, up until today. Some U.S. media members called him a prima donna, a distraction. Then, when Nishi actually did take an informal batting practice with Thome, Cuddy, and Kubel, the Star Tribune’s Jim Souhan commented: “When Nishioka moved toward the batting cage on a back field at Twins camp on Sunday, a dozen reporters aimed cameras and phones at him, and ignored future Hall of Famer Jim Thome as he walked through their midst.”

I know this needs no reiteration—but Souhan is an idiot.

Of course, the Japanese media is focused on their native son, Tsuyoshi. That's the real story here (especially for them). Besides, how many of the Japanese reporters know English? I'd think some, I do not know. But to think Japanese baseball followers do not know who Jim Thome is?

News Flash: The Japanese are, and have already been, Major League Baseball fans too. This isn’t nearly as new to them as it is to us.

With the help of my new best friend—Google Translate—I have been reading the reports all those Japanese media members have been grinding out. (And, yes, it’s sort of weird being able to find more Twins reports in Japanese than in English). Let me tell you, the batting practice with Thome was definitely a headliner.

For example:

西岡 メジャー589発男からスイング絶賛 ("Praise for Nishioka from a man swing from measures 589!"): "Nishioka bat, which measures 589 from wow man." (Yeah--Google Translate is far from perfect--but I kinda get a sense for what a sentence with 589 [Thome's career homeruns] and 'wow man' means).

ツ軍トーミも西岡に「いつでも力貸す」 ("Thome also Nishioka's Team "force to lend at any time"): "Twins second baseman Nishioka Tsuyoshi (26), but was overwhelmed by slugger Thome 589 career home runs eighth largest in history. February 20 (21 Japan time), participated in joint training camp fielder. ... In particular, witnessed the appearance of a rapid succession over the fence Thome just lightly swinging, and Nishioka said, 'I'm a major, which made me feel like' his eyes widened." Picture of Nishi batting--with Thome perfectly placed in the background (right).


Tsuyoshi was happy and honored for the experience. “He [Thome] is as nice as Igutchi [his former White Sox teammate] said he was,” Nishioka said (or, at least, I imagine that’s what he said).

But that’s not all...

While Google translating the latest Japanese reports on Nishioka, I came across a Japanese Baseball Message Board—where I found Japanese fans Yahoo Translating American reports on Nishioka by La Velle E. Neal III! (Note: The doubled red-writing in the last link is the Japanese translating, but because I found the page with my Japanese to English translator on, it all appears in English).

And they apparently seemed a bit perturbed by the fact Nishioka’s interpreter could not explain the meaning of the new uniform day, and why Nishi was not wearing his new team gear before today. I guess, the first day wearing a new uniform is special in Japan and/or to Nishioka personally. Nishioka had decided early on his first day in the new uniform would be the first official workout on February 23rd. This wasn't a thing of superiority--this was a thing of great honor, respect, and commitment.

The Japanese media might be centered on their hometown boy--but the Twins are now their hometown-boy's team, and now their team. Do you really think all of those reporters are just covering Tsuyoshi? They've reported about Bert Blyleven's HOF entrance; the re-signings of Thome, Pavano, Young, etc.; Morneau's concussion; even about the trees in the outfield being chopped down.

We're all a team now--go Twins (移動ツインズ)!!!


Please view my blog post from December 9th, in which I introduce--multiple times--the song fans should have been learning instead of moaning about the J.J. Hardy trade. (Really--great guy, but let's keep in mind that he was injured a lot in 2010).


  1. Great post. Thanks for the video links. I'm looking forward to a Target Field going crazy with the Tsuyoshi chant.

    We're all a team now.

  2. Good post, Maija. I've done quite a bit of the online translating thing, as well (I think I use Bing, more than Google, though), and it's really a hoot. You can kind of get the jist of things though. The uniform thing makes some sense when you think about it... if he was approaching it from the basis of, "I have not earned the honor of wearing the uniform that my team mates wear yet." It really is too bad that he, his interpreter... someone... didn't do a better job of getting that word out sooner. Anyway, this is all going to be forgotten once we can replace this discussion with one about actual performance.

  3. I think you are right, JimCrikket. I also found it amusing how stupid the Japanese fans thought we were for complaining about the uniform. Arrogant Westerners, or something, they called us! Talk about a little clash of cultures.

  4. This is a great unique post! Great amusing read!

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