Caple on Ichiro

DMZ · July 29, 2005 at 6:30 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Caple maintains that Ichiro is a Japanese-American fusion.

Back when I used to write for Baseball Prospectus, I’d get hate mail sometimes would have something in them like “This article was something I’d expect to read from Jim Caple’s ESPN stuff” or “blah blah blah and then you turned in Jim Caple.”

And I would reply “Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed it.”

Anyway, check it out. I don’t agree with some of his conclusions, but it’s a good read. The bath thing is funny.


20 Responses to “Caple on Ichiro”

  1. Nick on July 29th, 2005 6:39 pm

    Caples = Jim Caple / No “S”

  2. DMZ on July 29th, 2005 6:48 pm

    Fixed typo

  3. dw on July 29th, 2005 6:55 pm

    As a web designer/developer, I am agog at the design of the article. An excellent example of what you can do with web standards and tableless design.

    And the article’s pretty cool, too.

  4. Jeremy on July 29th, 2005 7:01 pm

    Wow, an article that isn’t an Insider article!

    Seriously, I enjoyed reading Caple’s piece on Ichiro. Caple has always been one of my favorite writers and if there’s anybody at that’s worthy of writing about Ichiro, it’s Caple.

  5. Gunga on July 29th, 2005 7:07 pm

    I’ve never pretended to be overly knowledgable about baseball, so I don’t feel too bad about asking the question: what am I missing? Caple says, “That’s why it is very unlikely he’ll ever hit .400 — he doesn’t walk enough.” I’ve heard this before, and it beats the hell out of me what the one thing has to do with the other. Anyone care to explain this to me?

  6. Dave on July 29th, 2005 7:17 pm

    It’s harder to hit .400 in 500 AB than in 650 AB. If Ichiro was a prolific walker, some of his plate appearances wouldn’t count as at-bats, reducing the sheer number of times he had to have the ball in play go for a hit 40 percent of the time.

    It’s not a huge factor, I don’t think, but it probably is a small one.

  7. Dave on July 29th, 2005 7:18 pm

    Sorry, its easier to hit .400 in 500 AB than in 650. The first sentence is backwards.

  8. shigelojoe on July 29th, 2005 7:23 pm

    3: I’m just glad they didn’t shoehorn any obnoxious Flash widgets in there.

  9. Shoeless Jose on July 29th, 2005 7:54 pm

    I haven’t read the whole thing (will get to it later, after the game) but I have to say just from the first page (which I know is unfair) it doesn’t sound like Caple has been to Japan lately, or has met many tourists from there either. Dyed hair, hip hop, goatees, MTV, Star Wars — that’s all in Japan. (Heck, the original Star Wars owes a debt to Kurosawa’s “Throne of Blood”). Comic books? Hello, ever heard of manga? Playing with your dog? WTF? Ok, a lot of Japanese don’t have the room to have a dog but how is playing with your pet “American”?

    I’ve never met Ichiro, but he strikes me as very Japanese. It just so happens that Japan, like almost everywhere else, has gone global. That sometimes looks like an American fusion (particularly to Americans and to anti-American intellectuals, particularly Europeans) but it’s much more complex than that. America has Hollywood and Madison Avenue and Compton and TRL and that of course has a big impact on the rest of the world. But so does Canto-pop and Bollywood. It feeds back in subtle, sometimes surprising ways. West Africans rap in French to hip hop beats spiced with traditional drums. Teletubbies is available by satellite in Arabic and Hebrew. There are kids here in Seattle who are so into anime and obscure Japanese video game characters that they dress up like them and go to conventions (google “Cosplay”). Who invented Karaoke? And when my Bangkok cab driver is listening to a local karaoke radio show where Thais call in and sing along phonetically to Santana’s version of “Omo Como Va” — what culture does that belong to, exactly?

    So my point, I guess, is that if Ichiro is a “fusion” then so are a lot of people who never left Japan. And so are a lot of people in lots of other places who don’t play baseball for a living.

  10. Pete Livengood on July 29th, 2005 8:08 pm

    DMZ – being compared to Caple is high honor. I love his writing. You are worthy of the comparison, too. I think those people complain because you would “stray” into very substantive topics, while Caple’s reputation is for pursuing fluffier pieces. That’s really not fair to either of you, though. Keep writing whatever the hell interests you . . ..

  11. Pete Livengood on July 29th, 2005 8:15 pm

    I would add to what Dave wrote, in response to #5 wrote, that most people think that if you are selective work the count (and hence take a few more walks), you will swing at better pitches and hit the balls you swing at harder. In the particular case of Ichiro (an exception, I think), I’m not sure that’s true.

    Of course, with this strategy you will probably also strike out a bit more — but the number of outs you make should decrease, overall, as you hit fewer dribblers off the end of the bat and fewer weak fly balls, etc. Thus, fewer ABs = higher average. Or so the theory goes. I believe it, generally, but I am not sure I’m convinced it has strong validity in the case of Ichiro.

  12. Gunga on July 29th, 2005 9:03 pm

    Dave – Thanks for the explanation. Rational enough. I suppose I buy it, but do have trouble seeing it as anything other than, as you say, a small factor. At least I feel less ignorant than before.

  13. Jean-luc Perrier on July 29th, 2005 9:11 pm

    The little Chinese character/Kanji on the first page reads “Zen,” as in Zen Buddhism. Americans abuse this term to no end. Most Japanese people know nothing about Zen other than you spend a lot of time looking at a wall and you have to shave your head. Ah, the Orientalist imagination. My other favorite was a Japanese soccer player who went to Germany and got the nickname “Sushi bomber.”

  14. Gunga on July 29th, 2005 9:19 pm

    Thanks also for your input Mr. Livengood.

  15. Pete Livengood on July 29th, 2005 9:27 pm

    Gunga – YW. I’m not sure how much credibility I have when I leave words out of my posts, though.

    Listen to Dave. He’s always right, and more importantly, always sober. 🙂

  16. Tak on July 29th, 2005 10:53 pm

    As one of Japanese, this article is alright. When Ichiro came to play Big League, we ourselves analyze such ideas how American people take him by ourselves.

    One thing to remeber Japanese also think Ichiro is a very unique person. He is one of the superstars in Japan, but in a very different way. Yankees’ Hideki Matsui is a “normal” superstar for us.

    Regarding the attitude on the interviews, he said in one interview to one Japanese famous ad copywriter, “I am challenging to reporters. I am one of the professional. They are, too. They should prepare proper questions” He is such a guy that Japanese media people are also tough to take.

    One more thing. He is truthfully thankful to American baseball organization. That’s for sure.

  17. mln on July 29th, 2005 11:01 pm

    Ahhh… the mystical, inscrutable, exotic Ichiro is now becoming “Americanized” according to Jim Caple.


  18. msb on July 29th, 2005 11:47 pm

    dang. you closed the game comments before I got home and I was going to waffle on about how I almost posted during Friday’s game that I wasn’t looking forward to seeing Guccione behind home plate tonight. my, such precience– once again he made the game all about him, and not about the players.

    oh– good piece by Cap’n Jimmy 🙂

  19. Josh on July 30th, 2005 8:36 am

    So considering he came to the MLB so late, what do you think it takes for Ichiro to make the H.O.F.?

  20. drjeff on July 30th, 2005 9:00 am

    I like Caple. He gets a little carried away sometimes, but don’t we all? That was a nice piece. Great photos, too.

    Off topic… with Torii Hunter down for a bit, does Randy Winn look attractive to the Twins all of a sudden? Or is a deal like that just out of their depth?