Do you know who Munenori Kawasaki is?
He firstly came to prominence as a dancer… I mean, player… when he was initially signed with the Seattle Mariners in the MLB.
He’s primarily been a bench player, who used to play middle infield for the Toronto Blue Jays, and now (sadly for me, a dedicated Jays fan) the Chicago Cubs.
Sports Illustrated posted a video in April, 2016 titled, “Munenori Kawasaki will be your favorite MLB player after this.” SPORTS freakin’ ILLUSTRATED.
He’s also Japaneeeeeeeeeese.
But that’s not why you should know who he is.
Sometimes, and I believe unfortunately, called a ‘mascot’, Mune always shows a lightheartedness and fun… after all, while baseball is a business, it’s also a game. A game, people!
With his new team, the Chicago Cubs for 2016, Mune got on the mike to get his team mates pumped with his unique version of Aerosmith’s classic, “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.”
Look at the sheer joy in his teammates’ faces!
And you should know who he is because he is a guy who plays baseball for a living and genuinely appears to enjoy it.
Heck, how many of us would love to be a professional athlete? And would it kill some of these pro guys to look like they’re enjoying it on the field/court/whatever sometimes?
He shows exuberance when he plays, but he plays hard and has his fundamentals down. He kids around with his team mates, but he also shows up and (from player and manager accounts) helps to lift the spirit in the clubhouse.
Having moved from playing in the Japanese baseball league in 2012, his English is well… let’s just say that he’s working on it. But he tries.
“My English isn’t good enough, but I’m every day studying English.”
He doesn’t have an interpreter as part of his contract as many of the other Japanese players do in the majors, but he figures out a way to communicate and his teammates all seem to have a great appreciation for him.
I was watching the MLB Network a while ago, and former player and teammate Mark DeRosa talked about Kawasaki, and it’s clear the affection he has for him.
R.A. Dickey, the knuckleball throwing pitcher for the Jays, says that one of his most memorable moments from the 2013 season was of Kawasaki hitting his first major league home run.
Esmil Rogers is one of my favourite players because of this clip from 2013:
That’s a real smile, folks! How often do you see genuine laughter on TV?
EVEN THE MEDIA LOVES HIM!! These guys at Sportsnet went as far as finding a jingle by the Kawasaki motorcycle company from the 70s to showcase “the legend” that is Kawasaki, the player.
But can you see how much fun these guys are having?
And let’s not forget the fans. Last year many of us Blue Jays fans were INTENSELY disappointed after a bunch of off-season moves which showed promise but ultimately ended up in a terrible in-the-basement season.
But the highlight for many Blue Jays fans? KA-WA-SAKI!!!
I’m stupidly emotional. When I experience something real happening, it gets to me and I have to fight back tears. The fans started buying up Kawasaki gear, would chant his name every time he’s at bat, get joyous cheers whenever his name would be called.
Why can’t more baseball players play and be this way?
Kawasaki will always have his detractors because he is not a ‘power guy’, nor it can be argued that he hits for ‘average’. BUT – he always gives his best either on at bat or on the field. And he gets results too. He’ll usually make the opposing pitcher work with quality at-bats and makes some pretty awesome plays on the field, too.
And don’t we love a guy who is dedicated and just out there doing his best?
After all, baseball is a game. And even life, to some degree, isn’t something we should be taking so seriously all the time. This is why we should all know who Munenori Kawasaki is.
Because he shows us that it’s possible to do well, although not necessarily be the best, even when he can’t speak the language that’s most used around him, but enjoy himself and do what needs to get done.
I think there’s a lot to learn from Kawasaki: Do it and do it right, but don’t forget to build good relationships and most of all, have fun. And of course, be truly silly.
Finally, it was amazing to have Mune as part of the American League Championship team for the 2015 season. I miss you, Mune! But maybe you’ll be part of the history-making Chicago Cubs team that will finally win the World Series.
Do you have a favorite Munenori Kawasaki moment? Share by commenting below!