It happened again.
Don’t ask me why or how, but for the second time in just over a month, The OCC was recently halted by the Japanese media to weigh in with an American viewpoint on current events regarding Japanese baseball players coming to the Major Leagues.
You may recall that the previous encounter took place at ESPNZone in Times Square and involved me prostituting my baseball loyalties to play the role of a Yankees fan because that’s what the reporter assumed I was and I happened to be in an accommodating mood. (I also happened to be rather eager to appear on Japanese TV under any circumstances, which added significantly to my willingness to figurative don the pinstripes.)
Anyhow, this more recent interview happened at 53rd and Broadway and involved no such web of deceit as to my baseball allegiances. Shortly after halting me on the street corner (with an assist from my friend, who went out of his way when he saw the camera to announce very loudly that I liked talking in front of cameras), the reporter asked where I was from and I immediately told her Atlanta.
Apparently this wasn’t a deal-breaker, because she proceeded to ask me what I thought about the amount of money Major League teams were spending on Japanese players and whether I thought it was too much.
Looking rather disheveled (my assistant didn't inform me that I was going to be making an international television appearance when I set out to get lunch), I responded that in fact I thought Major League teams were essentially getting a bargain, because paying $52 million over six years for a potential star like Daisuke Matsuzaka is incredibly reasonable when you consider that there are lesser American pitchers getting more money. (I also acknowledged that in Matsuzaka’s case the Red Sox were paying more than just the $52 million because they have to compensate his Japanese team, but said I thought this was a fair system.)
After I mentioned Matsuzaka, the reporter went on to ask me what I thought about his new contract, and I said once again that I thought it seemed very fair, because “From what I’ve seen, he’s a great pitcher.” (This is actually my belief, but it was also a blatant attempt to provide them with a sound bite they would be hard-pressed not to use.)
Apparently she liked my comment, because she smiled, revealing a disarmingly yellow pair of front teeth, and said, “Yes, he is.”
Soon afterwards, the interview concluded. And while it wasn’t quite as eventful as my first encounter with Japanese TV (they say your first time is always the best), it was still rather noteworthy just by virtue of the fact that it happened.
I mean, what are the odds of this happening twice in such a short period of time? It’s enough to make a man wonder...
Is it possible that they’re following me?
Was the uproar/outcry over my first appearance on Japanese TV so dramatic that they absolutely had to have me back on the air once again at all costs so the notoriously dogged Japanese media planted a camera crew on every corner within a 17-block radius of ESPNZone until they found me?
Okay, probably not. But I have to say I find the recurrence of this whole thing a little bizarre. And for the first time in my life, I have at least some tiny inkling as to what it’s like to be Ichiro Suzuki (minus the fancy cars, bad-ass sunglasses and one-of-a-kind left-handed spray hitting ability). I’m half expecting to open the front door to my apartment one of these days only to see a smiling Japanese reporter shoving a microphone and a camera in my face and asking how my shower went that morning.
In the meantime, I have dispatched our local agent in Japan to watch TV 12 Tokyo (the station that interviewed me) around the clock in hopes of spotting this most recent interview.
I have also instructed him to do some reconnaissance and determine exactly why the Japanese media is suddenly so obsessed with my opinion on matters pertaining to Major League contracts. You’ll be among the first to know when he reports back on either subject.
--------------------On a separate note, apparently there was a fight between the Knicks and the Nuggets recently (I have not yet seen any newspaper, television or radio coverage about this whatsoever), and multiple readers (read: two of you) have asked me if/when I’m going to weigh in with my opinion on this topic. Stay tuned, readers. Now that my international television responsibilities are taken care of for the time being, I intend to pen a response to this “Basketbrawl” you refer to in short order.