It's time we all take a breather from worrying about the sports themselves and focus on the players involved. This article is written with the intent of recognizing that there are bigger things that we should be focusing on at this time in the world rather than sports. On 3/11/2011, an unprecedented 8.9 earthquake rocked the country of Japan. It brought devastation, injuries, life loss and widespread panic, but that was only the beginning.
After the earthquake hit, a gigantic 23 foot tsunami tore through the coastal areas of Northeastern Japan. The waves pushed inland as much as six miles in certain spots, devouring everything and anything in their way. We are reminded how strong the forces of nature that are out of our control truly are. If you are reading this article now, then please take a moment of silence to meditate on this tragic event and to pray to God for the safety of Japan and it's people.
We hope the worst is now in the past, but danger still looms, as nuclear meltdown is the newest concern in Japan thanks to damage at three nuclear power plants inflicted by the mega-quake and powerful tsunami. You may be asking yourself, "How could this terrible, horrific event possibly tie into sports?"
In this gigantic melting pot known as the United States of America, the land of the free and home of the brave, we have taken in many Japanese athletes as our own and have grown to respect them in the process. We have looked up to them, we have cheered their names and now it's time we reach out and send our condolences to them, their families and their friends. Our hopes and prayers are with you and we are thankful to have you all here competing in our nation. May God Bless America, God Bless Japan and God bless the whole world.
Here is a brief slideshow that points out all active major leaguers that come from Japan. Be sure to pray for all of Japan and its people, but say a special prayer for these major leaguers and their families as they take time away from baseball to focus on this tragedy.
According to MLB.com, Ichiro Suzuki was worried about his family, saying through a translator: "We don't know yet because cell phones and power are down. I have not gotten hold of my family yet."
According to MLB.com, Daisuke Matsuzaka said on the situation in Japan, "I e-mailed them and was able to get through from that, so I contacted my family and a few of my friends and they all seem to be all right," Matsuzaka told Major League Baseball. "I haven't been able to get in touch with my grandmother, who lives in Aomori, which is close to where the earthquake was."
Matsuzaka and teammate Hideki Okajima created the following video to encourage Red Sox Nation to donate to help those in need over in Japan.
According to Boston.com, Hideki Okajima, who pitches for Boston, said his wife's family lives in Kantor, near the epicenter of the quake. "I'm not sure, but they are probably OK," Okajima said. "There's probably some sort of damage to the house. I'm also concerned for my house in Japan."
Again, Okajima and Daisuke Matsuzaka created the following video to encourage Red Sox Nation to donate to help those in need over in Japan.
On the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in regard to his own players Daisuke Matsuzaka, Hideki Okajima and Junichi Tazawa, Terry Francona, manager of the Boston Red Sox was quoted by Boston.com and said, "I didn't know about it until this morning. So we just checked with everybody, with Okie and Dice-K, and there are no issues. Everyone's family is OK. We did a double check right before we came out here."
Oakland slugger Hideki Matsui said his family lives far from the epicenter of the quake, but his worry is for those who have been touched by the destruction.
MLB.com quoted him saying, "It is a bit disturbing to see this and I'm worried about the people in the area who have been affected by the earthquake." He goes on, "It's a bit difficult to watch, especially because you're away. It's tough seeing all that's going on knowing you have family and people you know in the area."
At one point, Chicago Cubs G.M. Jim Hendry checked on Kosuke Fukudome—who used his bat handle to point and tap on the TV screen and speak in Japanese to his translator, Hiro Aoyama—to make sure Fukudome’s family was OK back home.
According to Chicago's Sun Times, Fukudome said through Hiro Aoyama that he "was able to reach his brother, who was fine and although he couldn’t reach his parents through busy phone lines, he presumed they, too, were fine because they live in the southern part of the country, far from the worst damage."
According to Steve Henson of Yahoo! Sports, Saito was quoted saying, "I feel powerless and not able to do anything. Being away from my family, it's very tough. I'm not sure what my next best decision is," he said through translator Kosuke Inaji, whose own extended family is safe on Japan's western coast.
"I heard that they are safe, but I don't really know what they need or what they are missing. I don't know anything about that."
He does know one thing.
"I could tell they are really scared," Saito said, his eyes down.
"All I know is they are alive. I'm just really worried about the people there. I just picture my family that lives there and I feel terrible. From what I hear, this doesn't even compare to what I experienced when I was younger. When I was playing catch outside, I couldn't get anything out of my mind," Saito said.
"I started looking at the pictures and the pictures got worse and worse," Kuroda told ESPN through a translator. Kuroda went on to say, "Then I turned on the TV and saw devastating images and it was horrifying."
Uehara was quoted by the Baltimore Sun saying, “This morning I heard about the news,” Uehara said through interpreter Jiwon Bang. “The families are safe; some of the friends I can’t get a hold of at this moment. I couldn’t use phones, but e-mail I can use.”
Uehara’s wife and son are in Baltimore, but the rest of his family resides in or around Tokyo.
Uehara went on to say, “It was in a different place, but there has been some damage where I live. At this moment, I don’t really know all the details yet, but I am guessing that the damage will be huge, so I am worried.”
Although he said his family seemed fine, he won’t be worry free until he hears their voices.
“I haven’t really spoken to them directly yet, so I am still a little worried,” he said.
Uehara said he has experienced earthquakes before—though none of the record 8.9 variety—and, “all I can say is it’s really scary.”
Per MLB.com, Hisanori Takahashi said, “Fortunately, my family is fine because we’re in a little different of area,” Takahashi said through his translator, Yoichi Terada. "A lot of bad things. This morning, I checked the Internet and saw the video. It was horrible. I called them again and they’re fine.”
ESPN.com is reporting that Tateyama said he talked to his family and they were OK.
"It's terrible," Tateyama said through a translator. "I talked to my family. I don't have a lot of friends in that area, so I don't know a lot of what's happening."
Tateyama did say one of his friends has had trouble locating his parents.
According to NJ.com, the Yankees announced that Kei Igawa was finally able to reach his family back in Oarai, a town devastated by Friday's earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan.
The team said Igawa's family was safe, though the pitcher left Tampa Saturday, heading back to Japan to be with them.
MLB.com is reporting that Tsuyoshi Nishioka has said, "I was able to get a hold of my wife right after,'' Nishioka said through interpreter Ryo Shinkawa. "She mentioned how severe the situation is and we talked of safety for people back home.''
He goes on to say, "I understand that I'm in an occupation where I can relay dreams and hope and energy back to Japan. I wanted to be on the field and think about people back home and go all out on the field and give some of that back home.''
For a list of other major league ball players and for more information in general on Japanese major league baseball players, please refer here.
In these tough times we live in, we as citizens of this planet need to unite and not fight over every disagreement. There are enough struggles to overcome in life. Must we fight one another and further complicate our world. Seek peace and love and turn from hatred and oppression. Remember that this world is what we make of it. Japan needs our help. Together, we as a world must rise to the occasion and restore this country and it's people. It is not the responsibility of just Japan's allies but it's enemies as well. If we help when we don't want to help then good will follow. If nations decide to not assist out of hatred, jealousy, anger or spite, then only evil will come to them. This disaster is bigger than our small problems. Millions of people in Japan and across the world need your help. Help where you can and remember what you put into this world you will get out.
Our thoughts and prayers go out not only to those major league baseball players from Japan, but to all those involved in this monstrosity of a disaster.
If you are reading this article and have not yet prayed for Japan, then please say this prayer with me..."Lord, I pray for the people of Japan. I pray that they will recover from this utter devastation caused by the massive earthquake and tsunami that has battered their nation. I pray that they will do so faster than anyone thinks to be possible and I pray for them to avoid Nuclear Meltdown. You are an awesome God and can do all things. Even in the face of the impossible you create hope and possibilities. I pray for your hand do touch these people and deliver them from their hardships. These things and all things we pray for, we do in Jesus' name, Amen!"
R.I.P. to those who were lost on that terrifying day of March 11, 2011. All the world is praying for Japan as it struggles with a potential Nuclear meltdown and recovery from this madness.
God Bless America, God Bless Japan and God Bless the entire world.