Saturday, March 03, 2007

Swords and Bats

I'm seeing shameless amount bats broken and thrown away in the waste basket. The spring training is a testing place for new models, so a lot of bats do break during free batting. Even so, it's a bit too much. Lighter bats, together with the consumption mentality must be the cause.
Batters opt for lighter, easy-to-manage bats to respond to breaking balls, and it's the same trend in the Major Leagues. But bats weren't commodities to be wasted in such a way. Being made with natural wood, some bats go along much better than others, even with the same shape and weight. A really good bat makes you feel that it's guiding you to hit the ball. I would save those kinds of bats and not use them for screwball pitchers for fear they might get broken.
May be it's similar to how a samurai treats a sword.
I used to be called "Samurai Toyoda" when I was an active player, and so I collected a lot of swords. I was especially attracted to the beautiful guards of the swords. I later gave them all away to other people, but still own about 100 sword guards.
Once, I was given a sword. Since then, my wife became ill, and other misfortunes followed. When I showed the sword to an expert, he informed me that there was an engraving which said "killed so and so with a big slash". I was scared stiff, and had it taken away to be purified.
But the person whom I entrusted the sword died soon after. Could it have been a curse sword? May be it's just my imagination, but there's something scary with swords. When you draw a sword with refreshed spirits, it feels really satisfying; when you draw with a bad mood, evil thoughts are sure to occur.
This kind of man-tool relationship must have continued when men started swinging bats. You can feel the craftman's soul in the bat, so in our days, we avoided breaking them as much as we could. We refrained from using too light bats, even if they were more easier to swing.
A bat reflects the day, and the game. It's more than a mere tool for me.

Toyoda Yasumitsu (Baseball critic)
From the Nikkei Feb 1, 2007

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