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Denard Span is somewhat confused

Feb 22, 2011, 6:11 AM EDT

Tsuyoshi Nishioka

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)

  1. largebill - Feb 22, 2011 at 7:14 AM

    Consider it the ESPN effect. Most folks can only identify players from the Yankees, Red Sox, and Phillies. Oh, and that guy with the beard from San Fran.

    • bleedgreen - Feb 22, 2011 at 9:23 AM

      Wait, so…. teams that have been consistently good over the past 7-9 years get more exposure? NO WAI!

      • clydeserra - Feb 22, 2011 at 1:08 PM

        like the twins?

    • ta192 - Feb 23, 2011 at 5:14 PM

      I would think damn near everyone can ID Pujols, maybe even by his batting stance (squat?), alone.

  2. anybodyinhere - Feb 22, 2011 at 9:30 AM

    I know where you’re coming from, Craig. I helped out with coaching my son’s youth football team and the kids had helmets on practically the entire practice. Took me a couple a weeks to learn who was who without helmets. They didn’t necessarily all look alike with the helmets on, but once you replaced the lid with hair, they took on a different appearance.

  3. klbader - Feb 22, 2011 at 10:14 AM

    I think ballplayers look completely different once they take their hats off. I probably could only recognize a handful of them hatless. It is quite a transformation. Take Chase Utley. With his hat on, he looks like your standard run of the mill ball player. He takes his hat off and I see that slicked back, greasy hair, he looks like your standard run of the mill douchebag. Perhaps both are true, but the transformation is scary.

  4. fivetoolmike - Feb 22, 2011 at 11:52 AM

    I was convinced that David Freese was black until I saw a picture of him. I realized I was confusing him with Joe Thurston. They’re not at all similar. This type of confusion occurs with me too frequently.

  5. oldnumero7 - Feb 22, 2011 at 12:13 PM

    My memory’s a little hazy, but I recall sharing drinks with three pro ballplayers: Steve Carlton, Miguel Batista, and Ray Chang. Ray used to date a friend of a friend, and he also like to pound shots and have his alter ego “Yar” come out. Fun guy.

  6. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Feb 22, 2011 at 12:24 PM

    I don’t know why, but I still picture Willie Bloomquist as a black guy. I’m sure that if my brain worked, I’d have a reason for this.

  7. nicosamuelson2 - Feb 23, 2011 at 1:01 AM

    I’m having trouble picturing Chris Carpenter right now… i’m picturing Cliff Lee in my mind. Do they even look alike? I’m gonna google Carp right now.

  8. cur68 - Feb 23, 2011 at 10:23 AM

    All you sportswriters look the same to me.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Feb 23, 2011 at 10:25 AM

      Yeah, Murray Chass and Ken Rosenthal look like twins.

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