Zen and the Art of Teamwork Maintenance


The Chiba Lotte boys checking in on a somber note. It's afternoon here, and we've just foregone a morning workout to watch the wanton longball orgy that I've come to understand as the stilted, Westernified version of a game I once knew.

You guys know I've been on my soapbox in the past, and now's the perfect time to remind you how much this new World Baseball Classic is stewing our soba.

In the past few years I've come to understand the game on a level that transcends send-ups and 6-4-3's, rises above sucking a cold Budweiser with Icy Hot tickling your nose and dudes lounging in their jocks in the clubhouse.

Baseball in Japan, friends, is an elephant on a feather, a feather known as teamwork, and if our best can't cultivate our spring mojo, sing our koans from the outfield and bask in the echoes, we will revert back to the slobbish stick and ball game I left what seems like an eon ago.

Our best players simply cannot leave their teams for the first weeks in March, a time when in Chiba we await the blossoming of the sakura, the unfolding of our swing to the fence. We eat sweet takenoko, and koinobori flutter in the wind while the boys and girls welcome their Marines home.

Our game is a game of counting. I got win number 1,200 as a manager here, we're halfway through another winning season. But as the Marines and I start our 2006 season we will become one as others separate, and your insulting proposal of a World Baseball Classic will not demean our solidarity. As Master Ryokan wrote:

The flower invites the butterfly with no-mind;
The butterfly visits the flower with no-mind.
The flower opens, the butterfly comes;
The butterfly comes, the flower opens.
I don't know others,
Others don't know me.
By not-knowing we follow nature's course.

Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld


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