Fan Mail Friday, July 3rd
I noticed you went to Northwestern and played for Windy City, are you from the Chicagoland area?
Alex S., Chicago, IL
Yes. I was born in the Northwest Suburbs, but then moved to the Detroit area for a few years. My family moved back and we lived up North near the Wisconsin border near lake Michigan. So, I’ve lived north, when I played for the Windy City Thunderbolts I lived south, I’ve spent time in the west suburbs near Aurora and most recently lived not too far from Wrigley. So, I’ve been all over the Chicago area.
I was wondering if you have considered wearing a number in the 70’s to represent your Fastball when you make it to the big team for good. I would love to see you freeze the likes of A-Rod or Teixeira on a called third strike on the corner from your 3/8″ off of the ground release point and the camera show you as you’re walking back to the mound with a big 78 on your back. My son and I have gotten to see you pitch a lot when you were in NWA, but for the sake of your spreading fan base…
Jake F., Mossburn, New Zealand
Well, crikey dick! My first Kiwi fan mail question. I’m a box of birds after hearing from one of my bugalugs from the South Island. Not many people know I used to play for the New Plymouth/Wellington/Auckland (NWA) Naturals. Glad we could have a yak about it, though. It was a fun year of baseball, but practice got pretty boring because we had no teams to play. I mean, being on an island makes it tough to find competition, but then they had to combine the teams from New Plymouth, Wellington, and Auckland and only then realized there weren’t any other teams around. When Christchurch had to fold due to lack of support, it really put a damper on our season. What it did do, though, was leave for plenty of time for me to think about things like which number I’d fancy on the back of my cardy.
I have to say, I like your suggestion of 78. Despite the fact those high numbers in the 70’s are usually saved for guys on the gridiron who are probably two sammies short of a picnic, I like sticking with the Disco theme. Nothing would show a batter it was merely a piece of piss to strike them out like having them look back at me on the mound and see me wearing the speed of my feeble fastball on my back. I did fancy another step in your thinking, though. If Chad Johnson can legally change his last name to Ocho Cinco, why couldn’t I change my last name to Fastball. Then, we blow it by somebody on the inner half and as they walk to the dugout, in their peripheral, they’ll see:
Hooray and cheerio.
What is Yabuta like in the clubhouse? To whom does he talk to? You should be his friend.
Will G., Omaha, NE
He talks mostly to his interpreter, but he can surprise you with some English here and there too. More than anything, he is witty and hilarious so it doesn’t matter what language he’s speaking, he’ll make you laugh. The best part is the steps that need to take place when someone in our bullpen wants to ask him a serious question because his translator doesn’t accompany him in the bullpen. One of our other pitchers is from the Dominican but played 4 years in Japan, so he is pretty much fluent in Japanese. So, to ask a lengthy question, one of the English speaking players has to ask me the question, which I then translate into Spanish, which then gets translated into Japanese and then gets asked of Yabuta. Then the answer comes backwards down the chain and we have our response. Just the other day in the first inning we wanted to know if Yabuta missed any family from Japan and if he missed eating Japanese food while he was in the states all summer. By the top of the fourth we found out that he only eats the grown-up octopuses and doesn’t like the baby ones and that on occasion he has gone bowling but never had the honor of catching a turkey.
On a serious note, we did find out the Japanese word for “comb-over” is the same as their word for “bar code”, which if you think about it is pretty hilarious. I’ve never played with a foreign player who’s native language wasn’t Spanish, so this is the first time there’s a real language barrier for me with a teammate. He and his translator have been teaching me some Japanese and we do pretty well communicating. I haven’t been here long, but without hesitation I would call him a friend.
To give you a closer look at how funny and personable he is, I’ll tell you this quick story.
My very first day with the team in Triple-A I didn’t really know many guys on the team. I walked into the locker room in Iowa and sat down at my locker, which was next to Yabuta’s. He introduced himself and I went about unpacking my baseball stuff. After getting settled, I sat down and took my phone out to send Mrs. Disco a text to tell her how exciting Triple-A life was. As soon as my fingers started tapping away at the phone. Yabuta said something to his interpreter in Japanese. The interpreter walked up to me and pointed at the phone with a smile and said, “He wants to know if you’re posting to your blog.”