Adventures from the Far East and Beyond

Bobby’s Last Post October 29, 2009

Filed under: 1 — orientalmix @ 4:49 am

Ottawa – Oh dear. I just finished re-reading Bobby Valentine’s last blog post on “Bobby’s Way.” It was written on July 26th (http://www.bobbysway.jp/), marking his announcement to leave the Chiba Lotte Marines after the 2009 season. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to see him with the team one last time when I visited the stadium in early September. The one game I managed to catch was just so good, baseball was fun again!

It was one of the best games I saw the Marines play to date. When I got to the stadium, I could hardly believe my eyes. The roster was stellar. So many of my favourite players (i.e. Imae, Fukuura, Saburo, Satozai, Tsuryoshi etc.) were on the roster and to top it off, Tsuyoshi, Iguchi, Saburo, and Satozaki all hit home runs! We even beat the Fighters 9-2 that night. Sometimes the Fighters seem unstoppable but not that night.

Looking back, the 2009 season was a challenging seasons for both the fans and the management. I could feel the tension when I visited the field the next day. I truly, truly hope that 2010 brings a new chapter to the team and I look forward to catching more of Bobby’s great work on this side of the ocean.

You can catch Bobby on ESPN as an analyst on “Baseball Tonight” and on 1050 ESPN Radio in New York. 2010 here we come!


Kazuya Fukuura (no.9) X 1500 games! August 20, 2009

Filed under: 1 — orientalmix @ 10:37 pm

CHIBA CITY- Kazuya Fukuura played in his 1500th pro-baseball game on August 19th against the Orix Buffaloes. Congratulations! It seems fitting since Fukuura’s Pacific League debut took place against the Buffaloes on July 5, 1997. He is the 166th person to have played in 1500 games. Wow. That’s a lot of games.


(Just looked through my photos from last year. Don’t have a good one of Fukuura – it’s probably because I end up cheering and singing along to his song when he is up to bat. He has such a good song too. Gotta go to a game soon!)


The Marines email newsletter August 11, 2009

Filed under: Chiba Lotte Marines — orientalmix @ 11:58 am

OTTAWA – I have spent the good part of this season living vicariously through the Marinerds blog and the Marines email newsletter – oh and the website too. Today they are advertising Karawaka goods and of course I want to get my hands on it… the thing is, I’ll actually get to go see a game in less than a month!!!!! I’m so excited! The website tells me that I will be in Chiba for a match up with the Fighters. Sweeeeet!


Japan Times story on Trey Hillman May 31, 2009

Filed under: 1 — orientalmix @ 9:50 pm
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OTTAWA – Success! We came out of our first softball game with a 17-6 (?) win. That was fun. I managed to get in three runs and even hit a double. Not too shabby for a first game. Unfortunately, our last game was canceled due to bad weather. It’s bloody cold here this week. I think it was 8 degrees C this morning. Not what I would expect on the last day of May. I’m putting together a presentation for the new JETs leaving Ottawa this summer on the Japanese workplace environment. Thought that the Japan Times would have some interesting articles to rummage through. I didn’t have to go very far before coming across an article on Trey Hillman, former manager of the Nippon Ham Fighters. You can see the classic Japanese workplace values come through in the story. i.e. patience, relationships, saving face, following form etc.
It’s worth a quick read: http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/sb20090531j2.html


Softball May 20, 2009

Filed under: 1 — orientalmix @ 3:02 am

OTTAWA – The Marines are on a roll! They have won two out of three games during their match-ups with the Golden Eagles, Softbank Hawks, and Seibu Lions. Now they are up to third place. The Fighters are doing really well too. They are three wins ahead of the Eagles, securing first place.

I’m seriously considering flying out to Japan at the end of the summer just to catch up on some Pacific league baseball. I’m not sure if I could live with myself knowing that I missed a season that could possibly be Bobby’s last. It makes me so sad to think that Chiba could lose Bobby… So, to make up for the big gaping hole in my life AKA lack of live Japanese baseball, I have joined a recreational softball team. Can’t pitch to save my life but am sure that I will come out of this with a bigger appreciation for baseball.

p.s. I’m loving the picture of Imae and Karakawa on the Marines website from Tuesday’s Baystar win.


The Canucks are out but Jeffrey Sachs was in town! May 13, 2009

Filed under: Economics — orientalmix @ 12:32 am

OTTAWA – Spent most of the morning with a cloud hanging over my head. My beloved Canucks are out of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Uggg. They lost 7-5 last night. Was full of gloom all morning but then fun developments in the world of economics in Ottawa were taking place. Jeffrey Sachs was in town this afternoon giving a lecture on financial reform and sustainable development. The lecture was hosted by the Department of Finance under the title of the “second annual Thomas K. Shoyama lecture series” – this was a treat to discover. Thomas (Tommy) Shoyama was born in 1916 in Kamloops, BC, attended UBC, and was a reporter for the Vancouver-based Japanese-Canadian newspaper, The New Canadian. It was the only Japanese-Canadian newspaper that was allowed to go to print after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He had a long and distinguished career as a civil servant and I think he even worked his way up to Deputy Minister of Finance – hence the lecture series. It’s always great to hear about distinguished Japanese-Canadians, especially during our 80th anniversary of diplomatic relations. The Canadian Embassy in Tokyo first opened in 1929.

Ahh but back to Jeffrey Sachs. It’s always nice to have the chance to meet someone who you have been following through the course of your academic career. PLUS it was great to see many other young professionals at the lecture who were ready to engage one of Time magazine’s “100 most influential people.”

p.s. Yes, I did have him sign my copy of Common Wealth.


Marines beat Eagles 6-0 and Karakawa takes the win May 10, 2009

Filed under: Chiba Lotte Marines — orientalmix @ 6:43 pm
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Yuki Karakawa (no. 19) on the jumbotron  OTTAWA – Here’s the thing. My hometown Vancouver Canucks have been hitting the ice hard all season, did a fantastic job taking the quarterfinals and are now tied 2-2 with the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference semifinals. The Stanley Cup playoffs have been a blast to follow and are a great way to feel camaraderie among Vancouvorites across the nation… but I still miss Japanese baseball. A LOT. The Marines are in 6th place in the Pacific League right now but are only one win behind last year’s champions, the Lions, and I’m sure that things will change up for them really soon! It’s pretty strange to think that the Eagles are in 1st place. It looks like the Fighters have nudged their way up their too.


Ugh. I picked up some sort of stomach bug while traveling and have been catching up on my Japanese baseball all week. So happy to see that the Marines beat the Eagles 2 out of the 3 games over the weekend. The best part is that Yuki Karakawa took the win for the Marines. Go Marines Go!!
I’ve been enjoying the pictures and stories from Deanna’s Marine Stadium adventures at http://marinerds.blogspot.com/2009/05/game-reportphotopost-eagles-marines.html.


Yu Darvish & WBC Bowman Baseball Cards March 26, 2009

Filed under: 1 — orientalmix @ 1:36 pm
Tags: ,

OTTAWA – Tried tracking down a place that sells baseball cards in downtown Ottawa yesterday. No luck. Wanted to find a place that would be getting in a box of the much-anticipated 2009 Bowman Baseball cards in May. The box features 20 Exclusive World Baseball Classic Rising Stars including Yu Darvish. Go Darvish! I figured since I can’t find Japanese baseball cards here, I might as well try to get North American ones. Turns out that no such place exists in downtown Ottawa. Please let me know if you know a place that sells baseball cards. Thanks!

Pitcher Yu Darvish's first North American card

Pitcher Yu Darvish's first North American card


Japan takes second baseball Classic!! March 24, 2009

Filed under: Rakuten Eagles — orientalmix @ 6:22 am
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Samurai Japan Hisashi Iwakuma

OTTAWA – what a game for Japan!!!

Everyone did their part. Iwakuma was fantastic, I think he pitched 8?innings and only gave up 2 runs, Darvish took over gave up a run and tied the game in the bottom of the 9th for Korea. Ichiro got things going when he pushed Japan up two points to 5-3 in the top of the 10th. Whoa. That was some intense baseball watching for one night.

I could hardly believe my eyes when I went online tonight after class. I don’t own a TV so I went  to the WBC ’09 website but it wasn’t enough. Watching little boxes change randomly on my screen didn’t cut it. Called all of the people I could think of that lived close, liked sports, but no luck. I felt like I was the only person in downtown Ottawa watching the game. After seeing that Japan was up 1 in the 3rd inning, I had to get out of my house and off to a bar.

Begged a waiter to turn one of the TVs on to show the baseball game (the rest were showing the Calgary vs Detroit hockey game) and the guys at the bar kind of looked at me as if I were a tad crazy. After being so kind to oblige, he told me that the last time that he watched baseball was when the Blue Jays won in 1992… that was a while ago… It was crazy to see how many Korean supporters were in the stands in LA. Huge Korean flags were flying left right and center and it was so hard to call which team was going to walk out of the stadium with a trophy. Just after the bottom of the 9th, the bar I was in closed – talk about bad timing. However, they were nice enough to point out that the bar across the street might be kind enough to change one of their channels to the game. (Oh, and this whole time, a retired former government employee decided that I was fun and that he wanted to join me while I was watching the game in both bars

.) After switching venues, my father in Vancouver (who also doesn’t own a TV) called for the play by play. He caught me giving the lowdown on Ichiro’s play and Darvish’s pitching. Watching those walks was bad  for the stomach but was worth it. Catching a glimpse of Tanaka in the bullpen was a bonus too. Not sure how many people tuned into the game but I’m sure that tonight’s game put Iwakuma and Darvish’s names in people’s minds.


Decoupling Debunked? March 10, 2009

Filed under: Economics — orientalmix @ 2:48 am

I’m still struggling with this one but the global value chains that link country to country have changed (should change) the way we think about globalization.


Last September, the failure of Lehman Brothers sent global stock markets tumbling, causing billions of dollars of losses across the world and severely shaking the foundations of the international banking system. The world’s largest economy is now officially in a recession, consumer demand has slumped, and millions have lost their jobs across the globe. Many emerging Asian economies have been hit much harder than their Western counterparts. For the past few years, emerging markets such as China and India were new engines of global growth. Even when the United States experienced a slowdown in 2007, these economies continued to record high growth rates and large current-account surpluses. Some economists even wondered whether the US and the rest of the global economy were headed in different ways. But the idea that much of the world economy has “decoupled” from the US may be based more on investor strategy than a sound investment theory.


No one will argue that against the fact that the United States is still the dominant power in the global economy even in this current mess. What about China? What impact will this financial crisis have on China’s economic output? I have a sneaking suspicion that the financial crisis will affect China’s economic output in the short run but will help China achieve a stronger relative global position in the long run.

>Will have more meat to back up these claims later. Stay tuned.


Advocates of decoupling argue that European and Asian economies, especially emerging ones, have become robust and diversified enough that they no longer need to depend on American growth, leaving them largely insulated from a severe slowdown in the world’s biggest economy. Over the last two decades, the global economy has changed significantly. Emerging economies have integrated into the global economy and have experienced strong growth. Some, like China and India, have even continuously outpaced developed economies. Countries such as China, Singapore, and the oil-producing states of the Persian Gulf have realized enormous financial surpluses, while the United States has become the world’s largest debtor. This is in stark contrast to the early 1990s when many of the emerging economies ran balance-of-payments deficits as they imported capital to finance their growth.


The US has functioned as the main engine of growth in the global economy for the last several decades. However, financial experts began to question if there was a genuine shift in economic power after a slowdown in the American economy in 2001. Investors on Wall Street noticed that emerging economies such as China and India continued to grow steadily, even when the American economy was stagnating. Michael Avery, chief investment officer of Waddell & Reed, has noted that the concept of decoupling began to “pop into the heads of professional investors, including his, during the last US recession, in 2001-2, although it had not yet achieved buzzword status”. This set in motion the thinking that the US might not be the leading economic force in the future. Many have speculated that China in particular is moving from being export-dependent to enjoying strong internally driven growth due to rising incomes and higher consumer demand. In an industry based on perception, faith in decoupling generated impressive performances for stocks of emerging economies, encouraging greater investment. High returns made it easier for investment bankers and economists to sell their idea of a decoupled world.


Economic trends in 2007 helped support the decoupling argument. A major slump in the US in the first quarter did not pull the reins on growth in Europe or Asia. China, India, Central and Eastern Europe, along with the Middle East purchased larger shares of capital goods and injected capital into European and Japanese economies. While the American economy decelerated, emerging economies were growing at full speed, adding fuel to the decoupling debate. For example, China’s exports to America slowed to 5 percent in 2007-2008, but exports to the other BRIC economies (Brazil, India, and Russia), increased by more than 60 percent and were up 45 percent to oil-exporting economies. As the number of economies that traded with one another grew, some economists began to speculate if the US and the rest of the global economy were going their separate ways. Investors, in particular, stood to gain financially if the decoupling theory were to be true.


 The Chinese government is undeterred. They  even announced recently that they will grow at 8% in 2009. However, it’s difficult to know what kinds of “statistics” the Chinese economists have based this prediction on – especially since they have been advertising the fact that GDP needs to grow at 8% a year to continue their economic advancements.