Last Sunday morning, I found myself walking from east to west on 125th street in Harlem. Just a few blocks away from the Apollo theater I spotted a Japanese kid with an Ichiro/Godzilla t-shirt. He was with two friends (also Japanese I presumed), so I stopped them to chat about baseball and Matsui. I asked if they were going to The Stadium that afternoon, and they said they were. They had also been to the first two games of the series and were pulling for the Mariners. The kid with the Godzilla shirt was named Hidi (I hope I got that right), and one of his friends' name was Hideki (the third guy's name escapes me, but he didn't talk much anyhow). They were very amused with how much I like Hurricaine Hideki Irabu, and they assured me that he was pitching quite well in Japan this season.
The guys told me that Ichiro was slightly more popular in Japan than Godzilla, but that they are really two very different types of personalities and players. They were eager to know who I thought Kaz Matsui would sign with next year. I told them that I didn't think the Yanks would get him, but that stranger things have happened. The guys really enjoyed the passion and excitement of Yankee Stadium, which made me feel proud to be a New Yorker. We enjoyed a nice conversation for about ten minutes when I discovered that these guys are students who live in St. Louis. So I asked them what Cardinals fans were like since I've never visited the midwest.
It just goes to show, you never know where you'll meet great baseball fans.
Speaking of Godzilla, Allen Barra is clearly a fan of the stocky Japanese import, who is enjoying a fine, if not sensational rookie campaign in the majors. Barra makes a case for Godzilla as the hands-down cherce for Rookie of the Year.