I hear Texans, who are proud of their state and love anything big, are indispensable to American jokes. Apparently, all the more since Texas is second among the 50 states that make up the United States both in terms of area and population, their obsession to be No. 1 is extraordinary.
I can only imagine their expectations for the Texas Rangers, which advanced to the World Series these last two years. In particular, Texans must have been chagrined beyond words last year for allowing the St. Louis Cardinals to win the World Series, coming from behind when the Rangers were only one strike away from winning. This season, it is none other than Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish who was chosen to prove the third time lucky.
In his fourth appearance after transferring to Major League Baseball, Darvish pitched against the powerful New York Yankees on his home turf in a showdown with fellow Japanese pitcher Hiroki Kuroda. With 10 strikeouts, Darvish baffled the Yankees’ power-packed lineup to record his third win. It was a rewarding victory.
Every time the count got to two strikes, Rangers fans stood and called for a strikeout. And every time he struck out a batter, the ballpark resounded with a chorus of “Yuuuu!” It was as if they were cheering for Texas’ newly born “pride and joy.” When the game ended, Darvish raised his fist in triumph. Although the gesture was more subdued than his expression of victory in Sapporo Dome where he played for the Nippon-Ham Fighters, it nevertheless showed his determination and joy.
But the way fans are eyeing the 25-year-old, who signed a six-year contract worth $60 million (about 5 billion yen), is neither tolerant nor patient. No one can understand the weight on his shoulders but Darvish himself. For now, I wish to simply watch the pitcher with uniform No. 11 as he takes the mound.
Jackie Robinson (1919-1972), the first black major league player, said to the effect that the opposite of impossible is not possible but challenge. As a player, he broke down a thick wall of racial discrimination with the swing of his bat.
Fortunately, there is no wall that stands in the way of Darvish’s right-handed pitch. All he must do is to go as far as he can toward the horizon that becomes visible only when he keeps challenging it.
--The Asahi Shimbun, April 26
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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.
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