Thursday, July 19, 2007

This is Information Retrieval

Story in today's LA Times about baseball's popularity -- or relative lack thereof -- in Brazil. Here are a couple of things I didn't know:

Decades after the sport was imported by Japanese immigrants, Brazil has baseball. It's just that very few people know about it because the sport remains very much a foreign one in South America's largest, most populous country. Of the 20 players on Brazil's national team . . .16 are Japanese. And so is the manager, Mitsuyoshi Sato, who most players refer to as sensei.

As a result, Brazil's hitters swing like Ichiro, pitch like Daisuke Matsuzaka and use a style of play that is fundamentally different than any other team in the Americas.

"When we prepare to play in a tournament, we tell our guys that when they play Brazil they're going to think they're playing Japan," said Paul Seibel, the executive director and chief executive of USA Baseball. "They play very much like an Asian team."

Kind of cool. Not that the Japanese influence is everything:

And that talent is beginning to ripen. Despite a population that is sharply divided between ignorant and apathetic when it comes to baseball — the official Pan Am Games baseball logo shows a batter, hands spread wide apart, hitting cross-handed — Brazil's national team has made great strides in recent years . . .

While the article suggests the thing with the logo is based on ignorance of baseball, I prefer to think that they're simply paying tribute to Hank Aaron's days in the Negro Leagues.

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