Pull up a chair while we talk about all things Blue Jays-related.
Healthy discussion is always encouraged!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Mulliniks’ Moustache #5 – Munenori Kawasaki

A lot of things changed for the Blue Jays on April 12, 2013.

Some will look at it as the unofficial end of the Blue Jays 2013 season, and some will see the start of a beautiful friendship. Or you can look at it as both.

The Blue Jays were struggling, sitting at 3-6. Sure, it was incredibly early in the marathon we call a professional baseball season, but given the expectations, 3-6 was woeful. I think 8-1 would have been a cause for concern for some. One of the few bright spots early in the season was the play of Jose Reyes. He came from the Florida Marlins in the huge off-season trade exactly as advertised – a prototypical leadoff man who played above-average defense.

On April 12, 2013, it happened. After driving in two runners with a base hit to put the Jays up by four runs, Reyes attempted an ill-advised steal of second base. He slid feet-first and rolled his ankle on an awkward-looking slide, immediately crumpled to the field at Kaufmann Stadium in Kansas City. The broadcast cut to commercial with Reyes in tears, being carted off the field. Out for three months. Poof. Season, in essence, over.

The next day, the Blue Jays called up everyone’s soon-to-be favourite Japanese backup middle infielder – The Diminutive Dynamo™, Munenori Kawasaki. And the rest, as they say, is history. The love affair had begun.

Kawasaki is an enigma – a moderately talented baseball player that fans absolutely love. As I’ve often stated about Kawasaki: “If he had his own sitcom, I would watch it.” But that’s the extent to which I’d say I was enamoured with young “Muni”. Is he fun to watch? Yes. Is he charismatic and excessively likeable? Definitely. Does he possess the skills necessary to be a contributing member of a major league baseball team for an extended period? No, no, a thousand times no.

Kawasaki’s skills are limited to the following:
  • He can play an adequate shortstop/second base
  • He can barely reach the Mendoza line
  • He possesses virtually no power
What Kawasaki does do in spades is keep his team loose and provide entertainment, both for players and fans. This skill really shouldn’t be overlooked and was of particular benefit during last year’s forgettable, painful season. Incredibly, his homerun is seen as one of the highlights of the 2013 season. His single, solitary homerun, which he hit in the midst of the Blue Jays magical, false-hope-giving mid-season 11-game winning streak.

Photo taken by me!
It’s incredible how Blue Jay fans have taken to and embraced Kawasaki. I’m speaking from a place of first-hand experience: I was one of the schmucks who waited in line for an hour, outside, on a chilly June morning for Kawasaki’s autograph simply because my wife loves him so much. Don’t we all remember the pall that overtook the city when Kawasaki’s contract was declined on Halloween day? Or the unbridled joy that we all felt due to the early Christmas/Channukah/Kwanzaa/Festivus gift the Blue Jays presented to us when he was re-signed on Christmas Eve? All this angst and joy for a backup middle infielder! Incredibly, the Blue Jays themselves held a team meeting where it was announced to the other players when he was being sent down to Buffalo on June 25th. The only time I’ve ever felt anything remotely similar to that level of love is when I get home after a 3am Burger King run for motley crew of drunkards.

As long as the Jays aren’t playing in a National League ballpark, then I’m fully in favour of calling him up from Buffalo every few weeks for a couple of games to keep the team loose and to provide a couple of hijinks for the blooper reel, He can still adequately play the part of backup infielder (he’s only a notch or two below Maicer Izturis or Chris Getz or whoever it is holding that position at any given time), but I don’t think there’s any possible way he should be a full-time member of the major league roster.

The bottom line is this: if Munenori Kawasaki spends a large portion of time on a major league roster, the team he’s on is not bound for the playoffs. If you enjoy watching him and are hoping to see him play this year, I hope you either: like Buffalo or are looking forward to another losing season for the Blue Jays.

Jeez. That was a downer of an ending, wasn’t it? Watch Kawasaki dance!


  1. If Kawasaki himself were to read this (or have it read to him, I s'pose), do you think he would tear up, or dance-dance-dance in front of you until he de-blackened your blackened baseball heart?


    P.S. I totes agree with everything you said!