Traveling and world experience are the paramount reasons I decided to move abroad–in Asia.
When I return to home, in seven months, I hope to have gained invaluable life experience. I hope to be able to effectively communicate in another language and I hope to have gained at least several thousand Korean Instagram followers. I expect and anticipate a lot of things, and every day excites me. That’s mainly why I committed to this venture. I knew I would wake each morning with the vitality that the unexpected holds. I knew adventure would linger and the embrace of a Geisha was one Friday night away. I knew all of this, and I’ve been living all of this, excluding the sentient Geisha (geishas on deck online, though). But, as I’m sure you ascertained by the title, there is more. You’re welcome, still, for that delicate introduction.
I love baseball. I really do. I may have been hard-pressed to perform at the collegiate level, and playing in front of 14k plus fans every night made me wet my pants, but I still love it.
I grew up with the game. My dad, who has now forgiven me for disappointing him as both an infielder and a son, played 6 years in the Major Leagues. He managed and scouted for several years after that. My Grandad, still young, at 91, continues to work for the Toronto Blue Jays. He has been in baseball for nearly 70 years. The best player he ever scouted was Mickey Mantle… Think about that. Baseball is in my family and it has been a part of me. Always.
So, when given the opportunity to come to Asia, predicated on the contract my best bud signed with a Korean baseball team, I didn’t hesitate… Not accurate. I hesitated: I had a great job, a nice house, an attractive lady who actively sought high-intensity intercourse, tons of friends, season tickets to LSU Basketball, etc.. Since being here, though, baseball has again took hold of my emotive thought. I love it. The Koreans do a lot of things differently, but I love it. Different, but passionate.
Let me explain:
(If you’ve never played baseball, or don’t understand that game, stop here. I’ll write about something different next post that will better suit your interests. Below is baseball comparative talk. Respect that.)
- It is a palpable feeling of friendliness and positivity being around these Korean players. That’s what I will lead with because that’s what I noticed first. They call me “friend” when they see me, even though I crush/crash all their team meals, and they meet their daily work with energy and vigor. I guarantee that work ethic and energy will be the first things you notice if you spend time with a Korean baseball team, if you can both see and hear.
- Noise: Everything is loud. This isn’t a bad thing, or something I disapprove, but it just takes some acclimation. I don’t speak the language (yet), so I’m not sure what they players/coaches are saying, when they say it. But most baseball activity (i.e. throwing, fielding, receiving, hitting) is all met with guttural exclamation. Examples:
- Stretching. Everything is on a verbal count and everything begins and ends with verbal yells. I am not ridiculing, it is just different. Different, but again, passionate.
- Pitcher throws a strike in a bullpen session, catcher and adjacent players meet him with an affirming yell. Threw me, as well as the two American pitchers, for a bit of surprise.
- Any time an infielder makes a nice play, in drills, he is met with accompanying verbal praise. When he missteps, he is met with the same aggressive screams, but it is implied he must try again. I dig it. A lot of positivity in practice, just, everything is loud.
- Practice: Long days and a lot of reps. For a couple days I watched the pitchers. They stretch, and throw, and run, and throw, and throw, and field, and field, and stretch, and eat–then repeat. I watched the position players, too. Much of the same. Always reps to be had and ways to improve. Players playing in the US work hard, of course, this is just, different. Longer, more spread out, more orchestrated. I hope strippers here apply the same work ethic and hours.
- Batting practice. There is a lot of action going on during BP. On the field, simultaneous, are three hitters. Three different cages adorn the home plate skirt. Three hitters are hitting from three different pitchers, protected by “L-Screen”, of course. The orchestration is impressive. A. Lot. Of. Action. Balls are being thrown and hit and caught, everywhere. I hope strip clubs fashion themselves here in the same fashion–in terms of action and handling of balls.
- The actions of the players are different. I’m not sure yet if it’s for better or worse; just, different. And when I say actions I’m referring to the way they swing and throw and field. Amongst hitters, high leg-kicks are more commonplace and left-handed batters tend to lunge a bit more. In general, I’ve noticed a lot more movement–pre-contact– with the arms and legs than you would typically see. I think this helps to relax these hitters–pre-pitch–and put them in a more athletic state. And pitchers tend to function in a similar, more loose/rhythmic form. Arm slots vary and bodies contort. Loose deliveries and loose arms… I won’t make another stripper reference, after “loose”, “slots”, and “bodies contorting”. Too easy.
Being around this team has been the greatest, most invaluable part of my experience abroad thus far. I will continue to absorb and appreciate what they do. It’s amazing how body language and positivity can overcome a language barrier.