"working on my faults and cracks..."

8.28.2008

unsportsmanlike conduct for beating dead horse

If you care to look at the overall medal count, from a country-by-country standpoint, it would appear that Japan got their ass royally kicked by a meaty boot wrapped in flags of countries like The United States, China, Russia, Britain, Australia, Germany, France, South Korea, Italy, and Ukraine. In no particular order, of course. Eleventh place, but who's counting, right?

But from all the obnoxious television coverage here--nightly specials, daily talk shows, and product endorsements at every hour between, all celebrating Japan's new national heroes, the casual passerby might be easily tricked into believing that the tiny island nation of Japan pulled a surprise upset in every single one of their events, collectively overthrew the 2008 summer games, and ended the war in Iraq.

Obviously, they did not. Granted, in a perfect athletic world, the international community would give a shit about gold medals in women's freestyle wrestling, and men's heavyweight judo, but the unfortunate reality is, they do not. Nobody does. The events Japan gold-medaled in, were fairly minor for the most part. Save for one--and it's the one medal that Japan cannot, and will not ever shut the hell up about.

Women's softball.
Japan upsets the U.S. undefeated powerhouse for the gold medal.

Tone of reporting on American shores has been brief, disappointed, and tinged with subtle bits of shock. 

Tone of reporting on Japanese soil? Slightly less so.

I'll admit, like any sports aficionado, I'm a sucker for a good underdog story. So I'm not even ashamed to admit that I was rooting for the Japanese team going into the game. Who wouldn't? I mean, the Americans hadn't lost in eight years--they had it coming. They floated around in their impervious softball-shaped Death Star, made piecemeal of their helpless Alderaan opponents, and ruined ballpark scoreboards with hilarious, lopsided margins in the span of seven inning cakewalks. Even their last Olympic outing in Athens was a joke; the gold medal game capping a 51-1 country-fried can of whoop ass on the tournament's entire field. Like everyone else, Japan was just supposed to smile, bend over, and take the silver.

So I spilled my beer in elation when Yamada eked one over the fence in the fourth, then glared angrily at Bustos the softball she-beast whose bat returned fire in the bottom of the same inning. I bit my nails when the Americans threatened Japan's minuscule lead by loading the bases in the sixth, but I cheered when Mishina's long throw from third made it to first for the game's final out. In all the hoopla and pandemonium on the field, I swear I saw Harrison Ford standing at the edge of the Japan dugout, whooping "Great shot kid! That was one in a million!" as the United States' chokehold on women's softball came to a spectacular, interstellar explosion.

But my celebration ended there. I did the dishes, then went for an evening ride. Japan's celebration, unfortunately has not.
Unlike their European rivals who incite riots and set police cars on fire as acceptable means of celebration, Japan takes its post-victory blitzkrieg to the airwaves. Since the game, I have seen upwards of 17 million replays of that final out (each complete with the male sportscaster screaming into his clipping mic, and his female partner bawling on live TV) across variety television--each with their own slant on the game. From interviews with bat boys (girls? whatever) in the U.S. dugout, to secrets on how the clever Japanese 'decoded' Cat Osterman's pitches; no trivial aspect of the game is being overlooked. I don't expect the idiocy to end until samples of the infield dirt on which victorious pitcher Yukiko Ueno tread, are brought in for chemical analysis on some vapid cooking show. I've had enough. The entire transfixed nation of Japan (with exception to the actual softball team) have annoyed me enough to deeply regret having taken sides with the underdog.

In short, congrats to the very deserving Japanese softball team for an awesome game. But to the rest of the country, pipe down already. The Empire always strikes back.



PS: Who cares if they medaled. Stop putting your female wrestlers on TV while I eat. It's gross. They look like baboons with pigtails.  

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