If you read between the chalk lines, you might have noticed that the Oakland A's will also be playing in Japan this week. That's if you can click past the fanboy photos of the Red Sox arriving at the airport, healing lepers and signing autographs. When you look further, you might notice an aside refering to the fact that the A's arrived too. Apparently the Bosox need an opponent or something.
But before the big leaguers do battle, the Washington Generals (sorry, I meant the A's) and Sox continue exhibition season against a pair of Japanese squads. Saturday the Athletics play the Hanshin Tigers and then Sunday the Yomiuri Giants host the green and gold. If you want to know some great details about Japanese baseball you've got to check out Bob Bavasi's site. There you'll learn that Hanshin is sort of like the Chicago Cubs, playing in an ancient ballpark and living with the long-time loser thing, a tad unlike the Cubs in the throwing batteries and pachinko ball thing though. Then bring on the Giants, who amusingly to American fans who use the name to describe the worst team in the National League translates to "Yankees" in the Far East. Just like the Bay boys the Tokyo team wears black and orange, and have a stupid mascot, described on the team website as a "half logo and half rabbit". Unlike San Francisco's Giants they've won championship trophies since President Eisenhower's term.
Before the highly irregular regular season begins at least, we're two equal American teams; both sporting 0-0 records, both enjoying jet lag and sumo wrestling, and both take their first swings against Japanese pitching on Saturday. As long as they throw pachinko balls at both sides we've got a chance; seems the Red Sox will be a far bigger target.— Kibby Kleiman