All Ichiro, All the Time

JMB · December 4, 2005 at 10:17 am · Filed Under Mariners 

The Times today has a bunch of Ichiro coverage, stemming from the now famous “I’m unhappy” interview which led to numerous articles about a month ago. Finnigan states that the P-I received three seperate translations of the original interview, and that one did not agree with the other two. Keizo Konishi, who conducted the interview, feels that certain aspects — specifically about card playing in the clubhouse and team leadership — made their way into the translation despite not being part of the original interview. Here’s the rundown of coverage:

Finnigan: Lost in Translation
Konishi: Reporter Aims to Get it Right
Translation 1: Newly acquired from Kyodo News Service
Translation 2: From “Number” Magazine

Given the translation issues involved, this is a potentially delicate subject. That aside, however, there’s a bunch of good Ichiro content, stuff like him talking about his swing, swinging at first-pitch strikes, and so on.


22 Responses to “All Ichiro, All the Time”

  1. Jeff K. on December 4th, 2005 10:54 am

    This quote from Konishi’s article really surprised me (although in a pleasant way). If only all MLB players were more humble in their approach to the team–how many prima donas have we seen, complaining about being dropped WITHIN a lineup, much less OUT of it…

    “Ichiro is far from being a selfish player. I wonder how many fans know that in April 2003 when he was in a slump and his monthly batting average fell below .250 for the first time, he asked manager Bob Melvin to take him out of the starting lineup, adding that he wouldn’t mind being dropped to the minors.

    About two months later, Ichiro explained it this way: “I said this because I thought that if a new manager kept a player like me, who wasn’t performing, in the lineup, the veteran players would complain and that would make things hard for him.” This illustrates how sincere and caring a person Ichiro is.”

  2. MB on December 4th, 2005 10:55 am

    That’s why every city needs at least two papers. The competition helps bring out the truth. The downside is that you end up with reporters trying to sensationalize stories and reporting half-truths to try to sell papers. You end up with Boston/New York/Philly where papers are full of rumors and even made-up stories with sensational headlines and players/GMs/managers that hate and will not talke to the press. I don’t think we have to worry about the Times or PI turning into the Boston papers, though.

  3. msb on December 4th, 2005 11:15 am

    I appreciated the discussions about nuances either lost or incapable of translation, and Colborn & Heid on the cultural differences between Japanese & American baseball, and the fact that Ichiro is his own kind of player in either league (“”Ichiro? Intense?” said Mariners scout Ted Heid, a man who knows the player well, and also knows Japanese baseball. “He’s the most intense player since Pete Rose or Ty Cobb.”)

  4. msb on December 4th, 2005 11:25 am

    oh, and the other thing was the apparent difference between Japanese articles and ones in this country– here the reporter might set the scene, but generally the Q&A would follow in a straightforward fashion; it appears that in Japan, the reporter can interpolate his thoughts, interpretations, opinions smack in the middle of the Q&A….

  5. Jonathan on December 4th, 2005 1:03 pm

    Wouldn’t you sort of hope that a town like Seattle, prominently perched on the Pacific Rim, home to large Japanese and Japanese American communities, major import/export center, etc., would be able to find some decent translators for its newspapers? I get that translations between Japanese and English are tricky, but the M’s are hardly the first Seattle based corporate entity to have need of such services. And the papers?? Well, much has been written here about the failings of our local daily fishwrappers. Maybe the News Tribune has a translator they can loan the Times/P-I.

  6. b on December 4th, 2005 3:14 pm

    finnegan’s article was pretty good, i was pleasantly surprised. go team guy

  7. DrNaka on December 4th, 2005 4:28 pm

    >Finnigan states that the Times received three seperate translations of the original interview

    It is not Times who recieved three seperate translations. It is P-I.
    As a note I wrote about the misinterpretation of Morosi weeks ago.

  8. Evan on December 4th, 2005 4:30 pm

    Translations generally are tricky because different languages offer different levels of precision in different areas. The different levels of respect, politeness, and discretion allowed for in Japanese can’t be represented properly in English.

    There’s almsot no chance that Ichiro called out his manager while talking to a reporter. It’s just not something any vaguely respectful Japanese would do. That’s the greatest failing of the translations used by the paper: they allowed errors which could not possibly be right.

  9. JMB on December 4th, 2005 5:52 pm

    It is not Times who recieved three seperate translations. It is P-I.

    Correct. And fixed.

  10. Shimanchu on December 4th, 2005 7:39 pm

    I’m surprised at the low level of comments on this issue. When the playing card issue, and Ichiro calling out Hargrove was the “news”, there was all kinds of opinions voiced. It’s interesting how little response comes when the news is not sensational or controversial.

    A large difficulty about translation is also the necessity for an understanding of the thought process and feelings used in the original text. Japanese is more than just a language, but also a thought process. There are many differences in ways that things are looked at and approached.

    I spoke up about this when the article originally came out, especially since the original Japanese text was nowhere to be found. I am glad that the original author’s thoughts and intentions have been share in regards to the situation. The Ichiro that we know and love is still the same guy. He’s a winner and I’m glad to have him on our side!

  11. Jim Thomsen on December 4th, 2005 9:29 pm

    Given that we don’t know for sure just what the hell Ichiro said in these interviews, why doesn’t the Seattle media try to approach him directoly to clarify what he said, given the consternation this interview is causing here?

    There’s only one interpretation I will accept as fully valid, and that is: “Yo, Ichiro. Just what the hell did you say here?”

  12. jtopps on December 4th, 2005 9:49 pm


    I think Ichiro denied requests for any statements or interviews from the Seattle papers to clarify this. Given all the confusion, I am not sure I blame him.

    I agree, though, it would be the best in terms of clearing the whole thing up.


    As I remember it, a lot of the discussion the first time around on this subject was that there was a possibility of a mis-translation. This report is just confirmation.

  13. wilymo on December 4th, 2005 11:06 pm

    A little off topic, but [ot]

  14. ChrisK on December 4th, 2005 11:34 pm

    Well, if Tampa Bay were dumb enough to make that trade, they could send us Delmon Young for Joel Pineiro while they’re at it. In other words, it ain’t gonna happen. Just another one of those “let’s send our crap for another team’s established players” trade proposals.

  15. ChrisK on December 4th, 2005 11:50 pm

    Btw, I do realize that Huff is overrated but his perceived value will certainly fetch more than some Meche/Rivera scraps.

  16. wilymo on December 5th, 2005 12:01 am

    Larue makes it sound as if somehow the offer has been made or something:

    The simplest deal the Mariners could make wouldn’t be the headline-grabber Mariners fans covet, but it would change the look of the team – Gil Meche and catcher Rivera to Tampa Bay in exchange for Aubrey Huff and tall left-hander Mark Hendrickson.

    That’s the kind of deal the Mariners can make without seriously altering their roster. Is it the trade they want? No.

    Maybe I’m interpreting it wrong.

  17. RickL on December 5th, 2005 2:31 am

    Ichiro’s (possibly misinterpreted) comments remind me of Guardado’s comments that the team had not energy and no competitive fire. I have been reluctant to join the many anti-Hargrove comments on this site, but I have to lay the attitude problem at the feet of the manager.

  18. Brian Rust on December 5th, 2005 8:32 am

    Ya know, if everyone on the team played with the “grit” and “hustle” of a certain reserve utility infielder, I doubt we’d even be having this conversation. Levesque’s column of Aug. 29, praises a level of individual effort that Ichiro apparently also finds lacking in his teammates. Though Levesque is unfit to loosen Ichiro’s sandal strap, I think he might have been prophetic here.

  19. JDS on December 5th, 2005 9:17 am

    For those of us who happen to read a little Japanese does anyone know if the original interview in Japanese can be found on the web?

    Not surprised by Konishi’s comments. Seems like typical Japanese-to-English translation games.

  20. Evan on December 5th, 2005 10:28 am

    The reason Ichiro’s not making any public comments to clarify what he meant is because it would be impolite. If he stands up and says, “I didn’t say that – I meant something else entirely,” that will mean that he openly accusing the paper or the translators of making a mistake, and he would never shame them like that.

    Japanese has about 12 different words for friend based on how the relationship came about, and the mutual awareness of it, and the relative ages of those involved. All that meaning is contained in the single word that we’d almost always translate as “friend”.

    Japanese offers a greater level of precision for things that matter more in Japanese culture. In this case, that relevant area is circumspection, and I suspect Ichiro was being far more circumspect than can be represented in English.

  21. jtopps on December 5th, 2005 11:03 am


  22. ray on December 5th, 2005 7:24 pm

    #19, I believe a blog named Marinerd has it. It’s okay to mention another blog in this case isn’t it?