In today’s Seattle Times, the Kyodo News’ Keizo Konishi writes that his recent interview with Mariners OF Ichiro Suzuki — the basis for a November report in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer claiming that Ichiro was disillusioned with his teammates — was grossly misinterpreted.
In the interview Ichiro never criticized any teammate by name. He never mentioned players playing cards.
The comment in the P-I’s translation that new players played cards all the time without studying videos of the opposing pitchers is my own personal observation. I’d like to make that perfectly clear.
I’ve covered the major leagues for five years, and I understand that there’s a special set of interpersonal relations and rules that operate in the clubhouse. If they were winning that would be one thing, but the mood in the Mariners’ clubhouse this year really was odd. At least I can say that I hadn’t seen things this way until this past season. And I wrote this comment because I heard people connected to the team lamenting this as a scene that symbolized a breakdown in team discipline.
One other thing I’d like to make very clear here is how difficult it is to convey the nuances of articles written in a different language. One of my jobs as a reporter for more than 15 years for the international news organization Kyodo News has been to write Japanese articles based on English news reports. Among all the reporters in the press box at Safeco Field, only myself and the handful of other Japanese reporters have this kind of experience.
Needless to say, the most important thing in this process is getting the facts straight. You have to start by correctly pinpointing who said what. I’ve seen many cases, though, where even when this is done perfectly, the original sense of the article doesn’t get communicated.
The problem this time, though, is much more basic. In relying on a translation of my interview, the reporter mixed up what Ichiro said and what I wrote. On top of this, the whole text of the interview wasn’t translated, just a less-than-adequate summary.
The best catcher in Japanese baseball today, Kenji Johjima, has signed with the Mariners. We’re in an age when an increasing number of new Japanese players will come to the U.S. to play. And there will be more and more opportunities for their words and actions to be transmitted on both sides of the Pacific.
With this incident in mind, I have a suggestion to make to readers in Seattle. In the future, whenever you read a newspaper article that says, “according to reports in Japan,” I’d like you to recall what took place this time.