As the Cro flies

Popular former Yomiuri Giants outfielder Warren Cromartie is out of the hospital after a “non-invasive” procedure and is feeling good, he said Sunday.

Thinking back on his playing days, when Japanese baseball was livened up by larger-than-life imports like Cromartie, Greg “Boomer” Wells, and the late Brad “Animal” Lesley, really put me into old fart mode.

Brad “Animal” Lesley

My nostalgia fooled me into thinking the game was more interesting then. It was probably just an unusual confluence of interesting characters. Alex Ramirez and Brandon Laird, with his signature sushi celebration after home runs, would have fit in really well.

I mentioned it to Cro, because he expressed concern about what he perceived as complacency in Japanese society.

“Japan has lost its ‘genki,'” he said.

Cromartie came to Japan the same year I did, 1984, at the height of a bubble economy, that is known here as “The Bubble.” Author Robert Whiting can explain The Bubble a lot better than I can, but a financial house of cards built on top of a solid manufacturing base made Japan briefly tower over the world like a colossus.

I don’t think Japan was better or more innovative then. But in a time when China was not yet ready to resume its place as a world economic power, Japan had a lot more swagger.

I don’t miss the more extreme chauvinism of the Bubble era, but I do miss the swagger a bit.

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