• Who's on First? Growing up in New Zealand, contributor Bennett Richardson played cricket. It wasn't until he arrived in Japan that he was exposed to baseball. "About five years ago, I was living in rural Japan when I saw my first game. There was no team in the area, but a touring team, the Orix Blue Wave, was coming to town. I saw Ichiro Suzuki play before he left for the Seattle Mariners," says Bennett.
He has seen three or four professional Japanese baseball games since then, and occasionally played a pickup game in the park with friends. But he admits, "I'm easy to get out because I don't understand when to run. I don't understand when the ball is dead. In cricket, you can run even when the other player is out."
While reporting today's story (page 1) about ways to enliven Japan's game, Bennett heard that with only 12 teams (six in each league), the league is too small. "You play the same teams over and over again," he says.
One idea being floated in Japan is to create an all-Asian league. "Korea, China, and Taiwan all have good baseball teams. There are several coaches here who are pushing this idea but the administration of pro baseball in Japan doesn't want change," says Bennett.
• Interviewing a Gang Member: Staff writer Danna Harman found her interview with one Salvadoran gang member (this page) particularly unsettling. "Antonio Garcia was pulled out of his cell to talk to me. He stood there, eyes averted, talking very politely and softly. He seemed sweet, but the things he was describing boggled the mind - brutal stabbings, and many killings," she says.
He told her that the only family he has in the world is a twin brother - who is a police officer. "I asked him what he would do if his 'homeboys' instructed him to kill his brother. Without missing a beat he said, 'Of course, you have to do everything for the brothers.' It's upsetting and strange to be chatting to someone who's polite, almost familiar, and yet has such wildly different values and ideas about life," says Danna.
David Clark Scott