Matsui v. Ichiro!

DMZ · October 18, 2004 at 4:22 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Is Hideki Matsui really so much more popular in Japan than Ichiro! that it’s “not even close”? I have trouble believing the Fox guys when they say that. I mean… not even close? Popularity-wise, I’d say that Carrot Top is nowhere nearly as popular as say, kittens. But any two baseball players? You’d have to go Bonds v. Cal Ripken Jr. to get in that territory.


33 Responses to “Matsui v. Ichiro!”

  1. Chris Robertson on October 18th, 2004 4:42 pm

    Anyone know why Varitek is hitting right handed against Mussina?

  2. Sriram on October 18th, 2004 4:42 pm

    If the M’s were playing the post-season against someone other than the Yanks, you can ‘find-and-replace’ Matsui with Ichiro – as far as Fox announcers go.

  3. Chris Begley on October 18th, 2004 4:45 pm

    I dunno. I was talking to a Japanese girl at the end of the summer. A fan of Orix, no less, so she was biased in Ichiro’s favour. I asked her who was more popular, and she said Matsui was quite a bit more popular back at home.

  4. Nikku on October 18th, 2004 4:56 pm

    It would depend on where in Japan. Closer to Tokyo, Matsui would be much more popular. In the rest of the country, it’s probably split.

  5. Evan on October 18th, 2004 4:57 pm

    This could be a function of timing – Matsui was playing there more recently. He had two years of Ichiro-free Japanese baseball to build his support.

    That said, I’m still surprised. Hideki Matsui is a very unattractive man, while I have it on good authority that Ichiro’s a bit of a hottie. That has to count for something.

  6. Amano on October 18th, 2004 5:11 pm

    In a Yahoo! Japan Internet poll conducted from 30 June to 8 July (sample size 49,793), Ichiro was number one and Matsui was number two. Of course, it’s just one poll.

  7. devil's advocate on October 18th, 2004 5:12 pm

    matsui’s got a much better nickname, that has to count for something.

  8. happygolucky on October 18th, 2004 5:23 pm

    Matsui played for the most popular team in Japan where half of the baseball fans are Giants fans. Ichiro, on the other hand, played for a young team that doesn’t have as many fans. By that logic, Matsui is more popular. However, Ichiro is the first ever position player to play in the Major League and his success certainly made him a household name and his popularity became unparalleled back home. The fact that Ichiro bumped Matsui off the All-Stars this year should be an indication of how popular Ichiro is. If I’m to guess, I would say Matsui is more popular among the older generation of Japanese fans (who are most likely Giants fans), but Ichiro is certainly more so among the young genereation and probably female fans (the “hottie” advantage).

  9. Jim Thomsen on October 18th, 2004 5:24 pm

    And isn’t Ichiro married to a major Japanese celebrity in her own right? A TV reporter, or actress, something like that?

  10. Paul on October 18th, 2004 5:43 pm

    I don’t think this is a fair comparison. During the seven years when Ichiro played there, he was the most voted all star for consecutive 4 or 5 years. They also did a survey that Ichiro was the most well known person in Japan – even more than the emperor. It’s after Ichiro left that Matsui took over.

  11. tvwxman on October 18th, 2004 5:44 pm

    I think that comment had more to do with Fox’s (and the national media’s) inherent bias in favor of all things New York than what is the actual truth in Japan.

  12. Paul on October 18th, 2004 5:59 pm

    All right. Here is a link to a report on the 2000 NPB All Star game which is the last time Ichiro participated in –

    roughly translated to –
    2000 All Star game vote result was announced on 11th. Ichiro received 1,157,018 votes and this is the second year in a row that he got more than 1 million votes. This is also the sixth year in a row that he received the most votes.

  13. Paul on October 18th, 2004 6:10 pm

    Can’t help it :p

    2002 NPB All Star game which is the last time Matsui attended –

    roughly translated to –
    2002 All Start game vote result is announced on 2nd. Matsui received the second most votes (1,298,046) in history (Ichiro received 1,346,504 votes in 1999) and this is the second years in a row that Matsui got the most votes.

    Who is more popular?

  14. happygolucky on October 18th, 2004 6:24 pm

    Maybe Matsui is “considered” more popular in Japan because he’s played in two really popular teams, the Giants in Japan & Yankees here. What does it say about Ichiro though that he has achieved such fame when he plays for less “popular” or recognized teams, the Orix Bluewave and of course the Mariners, both of them are no media darlings.

  15. DMZ on October 18th, 2004 7:07 pm

    “More popular” I could buy. But “not even close”? There’s just — there’s no way that’s true, unless Ichiro! had a reputation for… jeez, what– killing puppies? unlicensed nuclear testing in the Sea of Japan?

  16. toshi on October 18th, 2004 7:35 pm

    I think #7 is correct. In addition, Matsui was very media friendly, whereas Ichiro was more quiet and kept distance from media. Because of this, I think a lot of people respected Iciro but felt more close to Matsui.

  17. Scott on October 18th, 2004 8:16 pm

    I live in Osaka now for seven years and have two more years to go for my company. I was more exposed to Matusui since Giants is huge here in Japan. However DMZ is totally correct, to say not even close is a stupid statment. Ichiro was super popular among the south region and among young people. He used to date a very popular actress here in Japan and created quite a name for himself. He is considered more “hip”. And now with his new record, you can actually find his Tshirts and things selling everywhere here.

  18. YAMADA on October 18th, 2004 9:46 pm

    I’m a Japanese living near Tokyo,and always enjoy this site.
    I think #7and#15 is exact as a whole.And in addition to that,
    I can say that Japanese media is “very very very” friendly to
    the Tokyo Giants.
    So very very vey friendly to Matsui while not to Ichiro.
    I think that’s a huge reason Matsui is more popular than Ichiro among the general public in Japan.

  19. Adam on October 18th, 2004 10:12 pm

    Why don’t we check the MLB All-Star ballot votes? Surely Matsui would get more votes since he plays in a much larger MLB city and is “more popular” in Japan…

  20. Colm on October 18th, 2004 10:15 pm

    It’s second hand knowledge, but I work regularly with a guy who runs one of the outfield high definition cameras for NHK on all the Mariners’ home games and who is also married to a Japanese girl. He reckons that it’s “not even close” in Ichiro’s favor.

  21. Adam on October 18th, 2004 10:17 pm

    Here we go…’bout halfway down…”The Mariners right fielder finished with 1,891,136 votes to finish behind Guerrero (3,024,870) and Ramirez (2,682,121), and slightly ahead of Yankees Hideki Matsui (1,855,118). ”

    Sorry if you don’t like us posting links.

  22. Adam on October 18th, 2004 10:19 pm

    Anyway, common sense would say that since there are obviously more fans (and a larger home crowd city size) of the Yankees in the U.S. than the Mariners, Matsui should win over those votes.

    If he’s so popular in Japan (according to the dumb McCarver), then why did he not crush Ichiro in the voting?

  23. Dave in Palo Alto on October 18th, 2004 11:12 pm

    In Japan a few months ago, saw a very cool Ichiro ad where the man is dressed in black painting Japanese characters on a poster against an all white background. He completes the caligraphy with his chop — which of course was an ornate “51”.

    Didn’t see any Godzilla ads.

  24. jj on October 19th, 2004 12:26 am

    I think regardless who WAS or IS more popular in Japan, history would speak itself for Ichiro. Ichiro has the most hit record now will be hall of famer one day, while Matsui I think is doubtful. He is a good hitter but he would have to be more to make it.

  25. Mike on October 19th, 2004 1:35 am

    Since I am over there right now, my perspective is that while I have no idea if,on the whole Matsui is more popular, I have seen an awful lot of Ichiro-related stuff on the streets, and comparatively little Matsui-related paraphenalia… FWIW.

  26. msb on October 19th, 2004 8:32 am

    all of which which reminds me of one of my ‘favorite’ Steve Lyons moments in time… his flat pronouncement when the M’s signed Ichiro that he’d never make it in the big leagues– this being based on Lyons having broadcast the MLB/Japan All Star team. Not live mind you, but via the tapes sent from Japan. I believe his thought was that Ichiro was a slap-hitter who relied on speed, and frankly, he just wasn’t that fast…

  27. TroutMaskReplica on October 19th, 2004 8:33 am

    I have a Japanese friend who says that Matsui is indeed way more popular than Ichiro in Japan. Simply, Matsui embraces the media, while Ichiro scorns it…

  28. eponymous coward on October 19th, 2004 1:00 pm

    Considering the Japanese media makes our paparazzi look like the New York Times at times (I liked the description in Ya Gotta Have Wa of the Japanese rag that had a porn star grab the arm of a baseball player waiting at a crosswalk so they could have a photo of them together), I’m not so sure Ichiro’s making a bad decision.

  29. Deanna on October 19th, 2004 1:15 pm

    I saw about an equivalent amount of stuff for both of them when I was in Japan, to be honest. A Matsui picture up on a building outside the Shinjuku JR station, an Ichiro sunglasses ad in Ginza, the stuff is all over the place and about equivalent, at least around Tokyo.

    The Japanese baseball hall of fame had a huge Matsui Yankees display out front and a smaller Ichiro Mariners one in the back, when I was there, but that was during 2003, so Matsui was the newer bigger deal at the time. Also, their HoF is in the Tokyo Dome, where the Giants play, so it’s no wonder they made a bigger deal about Matsui there.

    And yeah, as #16 said, I think they seem to have two totally different images… Ichiro is the hip bad-boy type, and Matsui is the clean-cut boy-next-door type. Appeals to totally different audiences, in some ways, I think.

    The Japanese media coverage of baseball is somewhat baffling anyway. So much of it seems based on who is “popular” and not on who is actually “good”. (Or maybe I’m just bitter I couldn’t find any media mention of Ogasawara taking his second consecutive Pacific League batting title last year in favor of every report about the Fighters being “Shinjo is coming to our team! Wooo Shinjo!”)

  30. Pat on October 19th, 2004 3:10 pm

    Hideki Matsui looks like Shemp from The Three Stooges.

  31. happygolucky on October 19th, 2004 3:15 pm

    Ichiro does have a reputation for shunning press. Remember when he refused to give any interview to Japanese press to protest the invasion of privacy from them? I would’ve too if some tabloid is giving out rewards for anyone who can get a topless photo of me. Jeez. Godzilla is more friendly to the press is partly because there is less curiosity about him. He doesn’t have that kind of rock star & mysterious image the way Ichiro does. I don’t want to be mean, but I can’t imagine anyone would be interested in his naked pictures either.

    The media is biased and they like celebrities who embrace them and give them all kinds of access. A player who is more reserved and doesn’t show emotions for the camera is usually considered having no personality as if it’s a personal flaw. A show horse is worth more than a work horse as for as the media are concerned.

  32. Brian Rust on October 21st, 2004 2:26 pm

    Matsui tastes great, but Ichiro is less filling.

  33. Ray on October 23rd, 2004 1:48 am

    I’m a Fukuoka Daiei Hawks(an NPB team) fan from Taiwan. And I think #7 is correct. The Tokyo Yomiuri Giants is too popular that makes Matsui the most famous position player in Japan. In fact,for Giants is the first professional baseball team and win 9 consecutive champions in Japan,it become a really “Giant” in 20 centry there.

    Hawks,one of the most popular team in Japan, can only sell the right of TV lives each game at the price about 150,000 USD whe Giants sells it at 1,000,000~1,500,000 USD(depends on the rival team).

    Even the fee is high,every Giants game will be broadcast national wide. It makes Matsui the most popular players in Japan. Ichiro can only have some media attention when he’s going to break some record.

    I think it’s fair to say that Matsui is more popular when they were in Japan. But they have become same popular now.