I feel like I'm identifying with the Red Sox in ways I haven't before. I travel a lot for my job (though not as far away as Japan), and let's just say this expression from Kevin Youkilis is one I recognize:
(MLB.com photo; from Youkilis' blog)
Thoughts on the Sox in the Land of the Rising Sun below the jump.
-- It's interesting and often quite adorable to see players with whom we're so familiar in such an unfamiliar context, and an unfamiliar situation. Some of the players seem to be handling it better than others; Curt Schilling looked bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the footage of the visit he, Mike Timlin and Tim Wakefield took to Camp Zama, but Wake, at times, looked like a wreck.
Mad Mike brought his wife and son with him on the trip. With a dad like Timlin, I'd imagine the kid probably has a strong sense of discipline, but then why do I imagine, looking at him, that there's a standing rule not to ever leave him with Pedroia unsupervised?
-- Probably the tenderest moment I had with the Sox in Japan was seeing the footage of their introductions during the pre-game ceremonies in Hanshin. While an announcer spoke in Japanese, you could see all of them milling around in their gray road uniforms, heads on swivels, shifting nervously from foot to foot. The only person who looked perfectly calm was Daisuke.
Seeing Daisuke in his element, looking relaxed and strong and calm, made me realize how pinched he really has looked at times while traveling the US with the Red Sox, though not having anything to compare it to before, I haven't realized it.
-- Another gorgeous moment captured by cameras at the Tokyo Dome was David Ortiz's enthusiastic greeting for Hanshin Tigers outfielder Norihiro Akahoshi, whom he not only hugged, Yuniesky-Betancourt-style, but also slapped enthusiastically on the ass with his hat.
-- I'm sure the players were happy to get back to something familiar when it came to playing the game. Clay Buchholz struggled, but I guess it's still early yet or something. (*Puts fingers in ears* La la la la la la)
No but seriously, Stickbug. Step away from the Penthouse Pet for a moment or two and get to pitching.
-- Eventually, the Sox prevailed by a run, which meant that the Tokyo Dome was treated to an appearance by the Papel-Bot, who made quick work of the Hanshin hitters. I still have yet to see footage of Papelbon roaming the streets of Tokyo like a corn-fed white version of Godzilla, and about that I must say I am sorely disappointed.
Luckily, in the meantime, we have this cover photo to tide us over:
(scan via Texas Gal)
-- The whole trip seemed worth it for the Sox when I got to hear the Japanese broadcast call of Papi's homer in the first inning against the Tigers. Having now heard English, Spanish and Japanese calls of Papi home runs around the world, I hope to one day see a glorious montage of Papi home runs being called in dozens of world languages. I think it would properly communicate the international, even galactical spectacle of his bombs.
-- Generally, I'm just so happy that baseball season is finally, ever so slowly, thinking about commencing to inching toward beginning. I was ranting about some subject of stress or another to a coworker who knows me well a little while ago, and she asked me, seemingly out of the blue, when baseball season would begin.
Not understanding the connection, I told her, not for another few weeks. "That's your real problem," she said. "Around this time last year, you had the weight of the world on your shoulders without baseball to think about, too."