Those that know me personally know that I’m a pretty big sports fan, with baseball being my favorite sport. I used to hate baseball up until a few years ago before I learned the nuisances of it. You can say that for just about any sport or anything for that matter, but I really like how, over the course of a 162-game season, you can quantifiablely tell where you stack up relative to your peers. Within those 162 games there will be ups and downs but they always seem to balance out by years end. So from year to year, with very little exception, your performance and your results will be the same. I find that to be a pretty good metaphor for life in general.
Perhaps another reason why I enjoy baseball is because per capita, it has more Asian athletes than any other sports. In general, there’s not a lot of talk about Asian athletes, well because, and let’s face it, there’s not a lot of superstar Asian athletes with national U.S. recognition. One can make the argument that because there aren’t many Asian athlete role models, there aren’t many kids who aspire to be athletes.
There’s plenty of other possible reasons that people have came up with, some base on reason other based on stereotypes that we’re not going to get into (though you can discuss in the comments if you want). Instead, I want to focus on the upcoming baseball All-Star game which I’ll probably be attending since it will be here in NYC at Yankee Stadium this year. New York is arguably the biggest stage for sports and the Yankees is the most successful franchise in all of sports. There’s going to be a great spotlight for potential stars to shine and it would be great if some of those stars were Asian.
As fans, we can only vote on the position players, which is really unfortunate because there are way more Asian pitchers than position players. Here is a list of those on the ballot on the MLB website along with my notes on them:
Hideki Matsui – DH, New York Yankees
Nicknamed Godzilla because he was a giant among men while playing in Japan, Hideki is having a career year so far and he’s leading his league in hitting. Hideki is currently second in the vote count, but very much deserving of an All-Star position because of his ability to get hits in important game situations. If you had to vote for one guy, this would be him!
Kosuke Fukudome – OF, Chicago Cubs
Technically a rookie in Major League Baseball, but Fukudome was an absolute stud in Japan. He’s one of the main reasons Cubs fans are hopeful of a potential World Series run, their first in exactly 100 years. He doesn’t need much help as he’s all but guaranteed a spot as a starter.
Ichiro Suzuki - OF Seattle Mariners
You have to be living under a rock to not know this guy. He’s pretty much locked as a starter as well. However, if he doesn’t get voted in by the fans, then he’ll be voted in by the players.
Johnny Damon – OF, New York Yankees
Damon is half Thai! Never would’ve guessed if someone didn’t tell me since he never talks about. At this point he’s a long shot but he is an All-Star caliber player which I thought I’ll mention.
Shane Victorino – OF, Philadelphia Phillies
Mr. Flying Hawaiian is destined to be a great baseball player…in a couple of years or so. Injuries and inconsistencies are hurting his All-Star chances for this year, but I expect him to be a top player in 1-2 years.
Kauzo Matsui - 2B HOU
There’s a long story behind this Matsui, but we’re not going to spend all day on it. He’s a decent player and there’s few good candidates at this position. There’s no way he’ll win the fan vote, but he might get in on the players or coaches vote only because of the scarcity of talent at second base.
Akinori Iwamura - 2B, Tampa Bay Rays
Kurt Suzuki - C Oakland Athletics
Both of these players are solid baseball players, but for one reason or another haven’t really excelled at their position. They’re just on the ballot so I thought I’ll mention them. There’s other position players not on the ballot, but they have zero to no chance of making the All-Star roster.
To vote, go to the MLB website and click on the All-Star vote graphic. There’s like three such graphics on the homepage alone. You can vote a total of 25 times up until July 2nd. Try to vote at least once and tell your friends to do the same. What I plan to do is spend 2 minutes a day for the next 25 days so it’s really not that much effort to potentially make a big difference.
So out of 240 position spots and 14 Designated Hitter spots, there’s a total of 7 Asian starters. Hard to believe when Asians make up more than half of the world’s population that there isn’t more balance.