Funny tweets from Twins center fielder Denard Span yesterday regarding what he thought was his introduction to new shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka:
Funniest thingever happened today! I thought another player that was Asian on our team was nishi!! I asked him how his English was and [he] said “it’s great man, how r u?” then i looked at him like he was crazy… Then he was like I’m not nishi matter of fact I’m from Kansas city lol … I laughed but I was so embarrassed. He was a good sport about lol
Based on the Kansas City birth and the Asian appearance, I’m assuming Span was talking to non-roster invitee infielder Ray Chang.
Here’s a confession: I have a hard time telling ballplayers apart. No, not Asian ballplayers or Latino ballplayers or black ballplayers. Just ballplayers. I’m so conditioned from watching games on television to expect to see closeups of them with either their names on their jerseys or as a graphic underneath them — or, at the very least, with them standing at their position — that there are some non-superstars who have been around the game a long time that I probably couldn’t identify simply by looking at their face, even if they’re in uniform.
Out of context, even some bigger names might be difficult. If Chris Carpenter or C.J. Wilson sat down next to me at a bar, I’d probably not realize who they were, partially because of the improbability field created by a ballplayer sitting down next to me, probably because they’re out of uniform and thus all of the contextual clues are gone.
People are prone to suggestion, overt or otherwise. Span surely doesn’t know all of the Twins’ NRIs on the first day of camp. If he had been thinking “must meet our new Asian infielder,” and then saw Chang taking ground balls, it makes perfect sense that his brain would click “that’s Nishi.”
But still, that’s gotta be a kangaroo court fine, no?
(thanks to reader Pat McEnroe for the heads up)