Blood, Sweat and Type O: Japan's Weird Science
記得之前The New York Times對王建民所做的專訪中
(報導全文請見Yankees’ Wang Finds His Place on the Mound and in the World)
最近一波由D-Mat (或是你要稱他是Dise-K都可...) 引發的熱潮
讓這樣的文化交流 (或是文化衝擊) 益發頻繁
The New York Times有著這麼一篇名為Blood, Sweat and Type O: Japan's Weird Science的文章
Blood, Sweat and Type O: Japan's Weird Science
By DAVID PICKER
Published : December 14, 2006
In the end, the Red Sox apparently decided to spend more than $100 million to get the Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka in a Boston uniform for the next six seasons, a daring financial outlay for an athlete who has never thrown a pitch in the major leagues or sampled the mildly insane rivalry between the Red Sox and Yankees.
For intrigued baseball fans in the United States, Matsuzaka’s relevant statistics are no-brainers: 26 years old, 6 feet, 187 pounds and a 108-60 record with a 2.95 earned run average in eight seasons with the Seibu Lions.
But what many fans, the Red Sox front office and even Matsuzaka’s determined agent, Scott Boras, may not realize is that in the eyes of the Japanese, Matsuzaka’s most revealing statistic might be his blood type, which is Type O. By Japanese standards, that makes Matsuzaka a warrior and thus someone quite capable of striking out Alex Rodriguez, or perhaps Derek Jeter, with the bases loaded next summer.
In Japan, using blood type to predict a person’s character is as common as going to McDonald’s and ordering a teriyaki burger. The association is akin to the equally unscientific use of astrological signs by Americans to predict behavior, only more popular. It is widely believed that more than 90 percent of Japanese know their blood type.
“In everyday life in Japan, blood type is used as a kind of a social lubricant, a conversation starter,” said Theodore Bestor, a professor of Japanese studies and anthropology at Harvard University. “It’s a piece of information that supposedly gives you some idea of what that person is like as a human being.
“Japanese tend to have a fairly strong kind of inherent belief that genetics and biology really matter in terms of people’s behavior. So I think Japanese might be much more predisposed to thinking about a kind of genetic basis for personality than most Americans would.”
Japanese popular culture has been saturated by blood typology for decades. Dating services use it to make matches. Employers use it to evaluate job applicants. Blood-type products — everything from soft drinks to chewing gum to condoms — have been found all over Japan.
No one is suggesting that blood type can truly predict whether Matsuzaka will pitch well enough in the major leagues to justify Boston’s huge investment. Like any other pitcher, he will have to stay healthy. And like other Japanese players who have preceded him here, he will have to adjust to a foreign culture and, in his case, to hitters who are bigger and stronger than those in Japan.
A person can have one of four blood types, A, B, AB or O, and while the most common blood type in Japan is Type A, many of the more prominent Japanese players are like Matsuzaka, Type O. That group includes Hideki Matsui of the Yankees, Kazuo Matsui of the Colorado Rockies (and formerly of the Mets, with whom he was a huge disappointment) and Tadahito Iguchi of the Chicago White Sox.
Sadaharu Oh, the great Japanese home run hitter? He is type O, too, as is Kei Igawa, the 27-year-old Hanshin Tigers left-hander who has until Dec. 28 to sign with the Yankees.
In Japan, people with Type O are commonly referred to as warriors because they are said to be self-confident, outgoing, goal-oriented and passionate. According to Masahiko Nomi, a Japanese journalist who helped popularize blood typology with a best-selling book in 1971, people with Type O make the best bankers, politicians and — if you are not yet convinced — professional baseball players.
But there are exceptions to any categorization, and in this instance one of them would appear to be Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners, who has become one of the great hitters in major league baseball since joining the Seattle Mariners in 2001. Suzuki is Type B.
“That makes sense in a way,” said Jennifer Robertson, a professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan who specializes in Japanese culture and history. Robertson added that people with Type B, known as hunters, are said to be highly independent and creative.
And creative would be a good adjective to describe Suzuki at the plate, where he sprays the ball to all fields and sometimes seems to hit the ball to an exact spot. Suzuki set the major league record for hits in a season with 262 in 2004.
“Even in Japan, Ichiro was kind of a maverick baseball player in the sense of being very philosophical and very meticulous,” Robertson said. “People with Type B are individuals and they find their own way in life.”
Can any of these correlations be scientifically supported? The medical community does not think so, Even in Japan, they are accepted on faith.
“There’s absolutely no evidence that you can predict batting average by blood type or that there are different character traits that you can define by blood type,” said Marc Siegel, an associate professor of medicine at the New York University School of Medicine. “To me, it lines up with astrology. Some people will say if you’re a Gemini, you’re more aggressive. I know a surgeon that will only operate on certain phases of the moon. But there’s absolutely no scientific evidence.”
In a sense, all this will play out when Matsuzaka faces Hideki Matsui for the first time next season. In Boston and New York, it will be Red Sox pitcher versus Yankee hitter, right-hander versus left-hander, high-priced Japanese athlete versus high-priced Japanese athlete. In Japan, it will be all that and more. May the best Type O prevail.