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Joey Votto explains the story behind his Players Weekend uniform name, “Tokki 2”

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Major League Baseball released the personalized jerseys for the inaugural Players Weekend, scheduled for this upcoming weekend. Craig highlighted some of the more interesting choices, like Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager‘s “Corey’s Brother.”

One that flew under the radar was Reds first baseman Joey Votto‘s “Tokki 2.” It actually has a really cool story behind it, which Votto explained on Wednesday. It involves outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, who was Votto’s teammate on the Reds in 2013. Via MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon:

“He was performing really well to the point that I kept telling him all the time, ‘I’m trying to keep up with you, I’m trying to catch you. How can I catch you? How can I beat you on the season?'” Votto explained. “About halfway through the year, I said, ‘Have you ever been to a dog track?’ He said, ‘Yep.’ I said, ‘You know those rabbits in the middle that spin around the center of the dog track that dogs chase but can never catch?’ He said, ‘Yep.’ I said, ‘That’s how I feel about you. No matter how much I chase, I can’t catch you.’ He said, ‘Oh yeah, that’s a tokki.'”

“Tokki” is the Korean word for rabbit.

“Every day, we would say what’s up to each other, and we’d call each other Tokki,” Votto added. “Maybe three-quarters into the year and by the end of it, he said, ‘You’re my tokki.’ He was basically saying, ‘I’m trying to catch up with you now.’ By the end, he was Tokki 1 and I was Tokki 2. It’s just kind of a full-circle thing that we both put the word rabbit on the back of our jerseys. I thought it was kind of cool that we got to use a Korean word and got to share something with a former teammate. It’s an inside joke between the two of us that we get to share with everybody else now.”

What strikes me about this story is how Votto adopted some of Choo’s culture, in this case his language. When foreigners come over to the U.S., they’re expected to assimilate, forgoing so many things that have made them who they are, like mannerisms, language, habits, lifestyle choices, etc. People from the U.S. very rarely go the other way. Votto did and it resulted in a great friendship with a teammate.

Major League Baseball told Kolten Wong to ditch Hawaii tribute sleeve

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Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Major League Baseball has told Cardinals infielder Kolten Wong that he has to get rid of the colorful arm sleeve he’s been wearing, pictured above, that pays tribute to his native Hawaii and seeks to raise awareness of recovery efforts from the destruction caused by the erupting Mount Kilauea.

Goold:

[Wong] has been notified by Major League Baseball that he will face a fine if he continues to wear an unapproved sleeve that features Hawaiian emblem. Wong said he will stash the sleeve, like Jose Martinez had to do with his Venezuelan-flag sleeve, and find other ways to call attention to his home island.

Willson Contreras was likewise told to ditch his Venezuela sleeve.

None of these guys are being singled out, it seems. Rather, this is all part of a wider sweep Major League Baseball is making with respect to the uniformity of uniforms. As Goold notes at the end of his piece, however, MLB has no problem whatsoever with players wearing a non-uniform article of underclothing as long as it’s from an MLB corporate sponsor. Such as this sleeve worn by Marcell Ozuna, and supplied by Nike that, last I checked, were not in keeping with the traditional St. Louis Cardinals livery:

ST. LOUIS, MO – MAY 22: Marcell Ozuna #23 of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrates after recording his third hit of the game against the Kansas City Royals in the fifth inning at Busch Stadium on May 22, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

If Nike was trying to get people to buy Hawaii or Venezuela compression sleeves, I’m sure there would be no issue here. They’re not, however, and it seems like creating awareness and support for people suffering from natural, political and humanitarian disasters do not impress the powers that be nearly as much.