The season's right around the corner, but if you're a baseball fan you've probably been thinking about the game all winter long. In that spirit I present one of the impractical daydreams I had this winter, just to get it off my chest onto yours.
I admit, I'm pretty excited about the first Japanese position player to wear the TC on his cap. Tsuyoshi Nishioka's got speed, he's got style up the middle, he's got a laid back attitude and he's willing to do anything to help the team. I'm pleased as punch...more than punch...I'm as pleased as the Kool-Aid Man's Punch Like substance
Part of my happiness is related to the fact that we've got a good middle infielder, and part of my happiness comes from the fact that now the Twins have something to boast about overseas. As someone who has travelled around the world, I can tell you that baseball isn't tremendously popular abroad, but shouting out: "New York Yankees!" is.
Even though people in Africa and Asia don't know much about baseball, they know the Yankees. The Yankees are a multi-billion dollar industry, and if you see US baseball caps elsewhere in the world, they're usually Yankees caps. So when I say "I cheer for the Minnesota Twins" I get a lot of "who?" and a little bit of "what/where?" Part of me hopes that Nishioka might make us a little more popular, might lead to a few more fans, and might (just might) be a big fat "pbbbt" to the Yankees global hegemony.
But, I figure, why limit ourselves to just Japan? We've got a fair few fellas from the Caribbean and that's nice, we've got the Aussie, Luke Hughes, fighting for a spot on the opening day roster, we had the Flying Dutchman Bert Blyleven...but why not look to some new territory...why not sign the first Indian to a major league contract?
If you didn't know, I used to live in India (check the archives on my other blog for more info). While I lived there it was hard to follow baseball, but really easy to follow cricket: the subcontinent's sporting obsession. And while I would never start a blog entitled: "Tea Crumpets from Heaven" I do actually like the sport. It's like a long home run derby with the batter in the middle of the field, and the pitcher entitled to run up to the rubber before throwing (thereby making the ball go by VERY quickly). And while living in India, I naturally fell for the national cricket team, a talented but often unlucky side who often falls short in the playoffs (remind you of anybody else?).
So here's my idea, let's go after Sachin Tendulkar, the best batsman in India's history. He could play a corner outfield position or serve as designated hitter, and maybe, just maybe, feel like he's got nothing to lose by trying out the game with the round bat rather than the flat one. In my fevered imagination I can see him trying out in February 2012, establishing an incentive laden contract to replace Jim Thome, and hitting somewhere around .300 with about 20 home runs...true he might be more comfortable hitting balls that bounce in the dirt before they cross the plate, but heck, it works for Vladmir Gurrero! Best of all it makes the Minnesota Twins THE baseball team in India, which (as you may know) has a fairly large population.
I know this is impractical. That baseball and cricket prefer to be estranged from each other rather than integrated. That asking an Indian mega-star like Tendulkar to play a bench role in Minnesota is like asking Johnny Depp if he'd be willing to be an understudy for a play in Estonia. But still...when you're deprived of baseball all winter, but blessed with cricket, these are the ideas that float through your head, and until I see Sachin swing and miss at an Oriole's pitch, I'll prefer to believe that it COULD work. Anybody willing to take this to Bill Smith?