By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
Welcome to another edition of The Layup Drill. In this edition, we take a look at an honor for an National Hockey League (NHL) player, Shohei Ohtani getting a big extension, and an upcoming New York Yankees player talking about his heritage and more.
Suzuki asked to learn French after being chosen captain
Nick Suzuki was chosen by Montreal Canadiens hockey management personnel as the team’s captain for their upcoming NHL season. Suzuki’s parents emigrated from Japan to Canada. The 23-year-old Canadian has been described as the “heartbeat of our team,” said teammate Brendan Gallagher.
Suzuki will begin his fourth season in the NHL. Last season, he played all 82 games and led the team in points scoring 21 goals and 40 assists.
Being the captain of an NHL team comes with great honor and responsibility. It also comes with scrutiny, especially if you do not know French in Montreal.
Quebec politicians have told Suzuki to learn French. The reason being is to bond with the community that speaks English and French. According to a 2021 survey, an estimated 85.5% percent of households in Quebec speak French.
When asked about whether he was learning French, he said he had been taking French lessons in school and was refreshing himself with online classes.
“I’ll get better at that,” he told the media. Whether or not there is a deadline for Suzuki to speak conversational French is not known, but being required to speak another language for a sports team seems above the call of duty for a captain of a team.
Seattle fans know that a community can relate to a sports team despite not specifically addressing fans. Ichiro Suzuki, who the Mariners honored this past August, was famous for having an interpreter in his interviews. Of course, Suzuki had a handle on the English language. In his induction into the Mariners Hall of Fame, Ichiro addressed fans in English.
Nick Suzuki is the face of the franchise for a rebuilding Montreal hockey team and it seems that he is willing to learn the language.
Ohtani signs massive one year deal
Shohei Ohtani is having another great year for the Anaheim Angels. Even though the team had another disappointing season, Ohtani has improved upon last year’s monster year. Along with his ability to hit home runs, he’s improved on the mound. On Oct. 1, he took a no-hitter in the 8th inning and gave up just one hit in his 8 innings of work while striking out 10. On the same night, he collected another 2 hits and a run batted in.
Despite rumors of being traded in July, the Angels and Ohtani have agreed to a one-year extension worth $30 million to avoid salary arbitration next year. It is the most any Major League Baseball team has given a player eligible for arbitration.
The deal is fully guaranteed with no other provisions.
The deal staves off any rumors that Ohtani will leave the Angels for next year, but the long-term is still up in the air for the Japanese star.
Yankees next star talks Filipino heritage
The Seattle Mariners finally broke through to reach the MLB Playoffs for the first time since 2001. If they are able to go deep in the playoffs, they could be facing the New York Yankees.
Although not currently on the roster for the Yankees, Anthony Volpe is the Yankees #1 prospect and shortstop in waiting.
His mother, Isabelle, is an anesthesiologist originally from the Philippines. She grew up one of seven children and Volpe stated in an interview that his aunt and grandmother currently live with them. His family grew up in New York and then New Jersey.
He has not been to the Philippines but intends to go. Volpe said his parents wanted to take him, but they were too young and then when they grew older, they were just too busy with activities. He did note that he played in an international baseball tournament in Taiwan when he was 12 years old. He met players from the Filipino National Team and talked with them. He would love to go to the Philippines and help grow the sport.
“I grew up loving Hideki Matsui,” said Volpe, one of the Asian greats in Yankees history. Matsui, a Japanese designated hitter, played for the Yankees from 2003-2009.Volpe stated he was his little sister’s favorite player.
Volpe was selected in the first round of the 2019 Major League Baseball draft out of high school. He had committed to play college baseball at Vanderbilt University before being chosen by the Yankees.
The Los Angeles Rams narrowly defeated the Atlanta Falcons on Sept. 18. After the game, Taylor Rapp and Younghoe Koo met and exchanged jerseys. The two Asian football players are a rarity in the NFL and it did not get past them.
Koo made one of two field goals during the game while Rapp had three tackles. Both players posted the photo on their Instagram accounts. Rapp added, “Doin’ what they said we couldn’t!”
We all thought that Manny Pacquiao was done boxing. Well, his professional career may be over but not his exhibition career. The Filipino senator is in talks for a potential exhibition fight in January 2023. There are talks that the 43-year-old Pacquiao will fight former sparring partner Jaber Zayani in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Pacquiao was front row for a Floyd Mayweather, Jr. boxing exhibition match this past September, which gives rise to the speculation that the two may fight yet again, but this time in an exhibition.
The Presidents Cup is a series of men’s golf matches between the U.S. and an International Team representing the rest of the world, except Europe. Tom Kim, a professional on the Asian Tour, stole the show during play last month. The 20-year-old delivered emotion for his team and came through with big putts to make it difficult for the Americans. On one putt, the South Korean putt his ball, then dropped his putter, threw his hat, and ran toward his teammates as the ball was rolling in the hole. Although the United States won the Presidents Cup, Kim made a big impression on the viewing audience.
Jason can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.