From Round to Square (and back)

For The Emperor's Teacher, scroll down (↓) to "Topics." It's the management book that will rock the world (and break the vase, as you will see). Click or paste the following link for a recent profile of the project:

A new post appears every day at 12:05* (CDT). There's more, though. Take a look at the right-hand side of the page for over four years of material (2,000 posts and growing) from Seinfeld and country music to every single day of the Chinese lunar calendar...translated. Look here ↓ and explore a little. It will take you all the way down the page...from round to square (and back again).
*Occasionally I will leave a long post up for thirty-six hours, and post a shorter entry at noon the next day.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Besuboru Guy—Other Cultures, Other Infields

Click here for the "Celebrity Commentary" Resource Center—(all posts available)
Click here for the introduction to the Round and Square series "Celebrity Commentary" (coming soon)
This is a "small" (小) post—click here for an explanation of Round and Square post lengths.
***  *** 
One year ago on Round and Square (3 June 2012)—The Accidental Ethnographer: Ocean and Isle (Fiji)
Two years ago on Round and Square (3 June 2011)—Living and Learning: Warring States, Divided Lessons

[a] Individual and Society RF
可飛ばせ, 田中!
Let 'er rip, Tanaka!  OR
Fly to base, Tanaka!
—Common Japanese baseball chant
(Tanaka is a common surname, like "Smith")
It's time to let 'er rip, so let's start with the differences between the baseball diamonds (infields) in Japanese major league baseball and the United States.

Yesterday, we discussed the fact that there aren't any differences between the American major league baseball diamonds and Japanese professional ones. We even had a handy-dandy diagram to show how this works.
[b] Standard RF

It was only a tiny part of the story, though. You see, aside from the distance to the bases, and from the pitcher's mount to home plate, there are all sorts of differences. Today, we are going to keep things only focused on the infield diamond, where the four bases frame the pitcher's mound. Remember, the distances are the same, whether you are playing in Osaka or Houston.

But the "diamonds" are different. 

In major league baseball in the United States, the pitchers mound is made of dirt, and the base paths from home plate to first base (and third base to home plate) are made up of a slender path of dirt with a white (usually chalk) foul line running down it.

Moreover, there is a wide swath of dirt on either side of the base path (the path the base runner must follow). Toward home plate is the infield grass; on the other side is the vast outfield grass. So many Americans have grown up watching infield diamonds that look like this that they may not realize that professional baseball does not always follow this pattern...even in the American major leagues, as we shall see.
[c] Grass-dirt RF

In Japan, the diamonds often look different. For example, the once-popular American infield configuration used in domed stadiums is so common in Japan's...domed stadiums (and there are a lot of them)...that it seems to be the way a diamond "should" look in Japan. The picture to the left [c] shows the combined grass-dirt infield.

Ah, but there is one thing that you never see in the American major leagues, and it remains quite common in the Japanese leagues.

It's the all-dirt diamond. 

You may remember them from your high school softball days. If there has ever been such a diamond in the American major leagues, it has been many decades since they started growing grass.  

Koshien Stadium (甲子園, for those of you who are aware of the "cycle of sixty" in East Asian culture) has always had an all-dirt infield and a grass outfield. It's the oldest, and most storied of Japanese baseball venues

And the game is a little different when the grounder bounces toward the shortstop...only on infield dirt.

[If you don't read Japanese, but want to have some sense of the Japanese kana and kanji in these posts, just copy the phrases and paste them into translation software such as Babylon or Google Translate].
[d] The dirt on Koshien Stadium RF
[Originally posted on August 3, 2014]

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