In case you missed it, a showboating at-bat by a Japanese high school baseball player that seems to be a combination of gymnastics and a martial arts sword form has gone viral on social media and caused the hashtag #ninjahitter to trend.
With a band playing “We Will Rock You” in the bleachers, number 12’s batter-box ritual has achieved nearly eight million hits on YouTube, although the player in question eventually grounded out rather than getting a hit, but he moved the base runner along in the process.
This unique plate appearance evidently occurred at the Saitama Summer Tournament in Ageo Municipal Stadium in Japan. According to RocketNews24, number 12 is Yuji Baba, a senior for the Namegawa Sogo High School Team.
“Number 12 is sent into the game as a pinch hitter and puts on a complex plate routine that seems to confuse the pitcher. It incorporated bat twirling, flipping, jumping into the box and even a totally awesome pose!,” Hawaii News Now reported.
Particularly at the professional level, baseball is on the receiving end of much well-deserved criticism for being way too boring and slow moving, but as Fox Sports observed, “Yes, this does break basically every code in baseball’s hallowed unwritten rule book — and were pretty sure he would trample all over MLB’s efforts to limit the extra time spent between pitches. But it’s undeniably entertaining.”
RocketNews 24 added that Japanese baseball is traditionally serious business, with even high school players observing a strict code of conduct “so such obvious appeals for attention as Baba’s are extremely rare.”
For what it’s worth, in the U.S., where “showing up” the other team is considered a major transgression, and where pitchers sometimes can inexplicably become furious with slow home run trots or bat flipping, no opposing team would presumably take kindly to this kind of elaborate choreography, likely resulting in what is euphemistically called “chin music.”
That being said, number 12’s artistry is being justifably admired across the globe. “Look at that swagger. He jumps like he’s about to have a freeze frame moment. He swings his bat like he’s fighting off an army of Agent Smiths in The Matrix Reloaded. He points his finger at the pitcher, like he’s ready for a fight. We should all feel blessed to live in the same world as this man,” SB Nation concluded.
Do you think this Japanese high school athlete is the most interesting man, or perhaps more particularly baseball player, in the world?
— 238 (@fumiya234) July 23, 2015
[Image via YouTube]