Wednesday, April 22, 2009

20 questions with Jackson Broder; of East Windup Chronicle

Jackson Broder is a writer, International Scout for the Minnesota Twins, and DJ living in Taiwan. Prior to taking up residence in Formosa, he worked in Tokyo and New York City, getting an advanced degree in things Asia-related and speaking at colleges with fancy names. He is a contributing writer for the Taipei Times and Yahoo! in addition to EWC. He hopes you like EWC and urges you to contact him at Especially with high paying job offers and/or philanthropic ideas involving baseball in developing nations.

1. Tell us a little about yourself?

I'm a scout for the Minnesota Twins and the co-creator and editor of EWC. I'm in my early thirties. I used to be a DJ in New York for about ten years and taught in universities in the states and Asia. I am married and have a daughter who is nearly a year old named Zoe Chen.

2. Why are you in Taiwan, and writing about Taiwanese baseball?

I'm in Taiwan for a few overlapping reasons, the foremost being I met a beautiful Taiwanese woman while I was going to grad school in the bay area and I followed her out to Taiwan. We're now married. I had been cultivating skills previously to get into MLB internationally but I figured I'd probably end up in Japan or mainland China.

3. What was your interest in Taiwanese baseball before?

None actually. I knew nothing about it before I came here. I was more interested in Japanese baseball, since I lived in Japan for two years in Tokyo.

4. What is your best memory of Taiwanese baseball?

I can't single out a best memory but they all involve around getting to know the kids that play ball in high school here. They are funny, interesting kids and if you take the right approach you can become friends with them. I like to shoot the sh*t with the coaches, drink green tea with them, get to know them. The sport here is going through a lot of negativity right now, but I like to think of them as growing pains that accompany Taiwan's increasing contact with the international pro game.

5. Which team is your favorite, and why?

My favorite team is the Twins of course. I work for them, but also grew up cheering for them because I grew up in Minneapolis. If you mean in Taiwan, I tend to cheer for Nan Ying and Ping Zhen because I think they have forward thinking open minded coaches that try their best to act in the best interest of their kids.

6. Who is your favorite player, and why?

All of the '87 Twins team, Kirby especially. If you mean in Taiwan, my favorite player is a little guy on a high school called Kaoyuan. He'll never be a prospect because he's too little but if you watch him he's one of the most intelligent, disruptive baseball players you'll ever see. He's constantly creating and making things happen.

7. What is your favorite Taiwanese ball park, and why?

Tien Mu stadium in Taipei because of the beautiful backdrop (fog-covered mountains), and a series of baseball fields in Taitung where they hold high school tournaments. Taitung is like a terrestrial paradise.

8. What is your all-time Taiwanese team?

Don't really have one, if you're talking about the pro level.

9. Will you continue to follow Taiwanese baseball when you go back to the states?

Well, if fate is kind to me Taiwanese baseball will continue to be part of my profession for a long time. I'm not sure when I'd relocate back to the states as my family is here. If I move anywhere, it would probably be Japan. I love it there.

10. Why did you start the blog?

Well, first off because there was no real English language source providing coverage of Asian baseball leagues that was in-depth. Japanese baseball had stats and a chat room, but no actual stories. I knew that interest in baseball in Asia was just getting started in the states and that it would fill a need. Plus, living abroad and being in a sometimes alienating environment, it's good to have a creative project. I met Aaron and discussed it with him, and we got along immediately and both saw that we could create a project that would fill a void and that no one was really doing. We had a common vision and both agreed that it would be cool to start a baseball site that also provided a cultural lens to what goes on out here.

11. What do you hope to accomplish with it?

The main thing was I wanted to create a reliable and more objective source of coverage of Asian baseball in English, and also create a website that covered Asian cultural stuff as well. Asia is where it's at in the world right now, its the most exciting and interesting place on the planet.

Most coverage at the time in sites like SI, ESPN was always covering Asian baseball in annoying, orientalist terms of difference, 'otherness' and novelty, there always had to be talk about how different Japan was, sushi, samurais, how the game is different. Aaron and I both knew that the game going on out here was a lot better than people were giving it credit for, and that there should be an objective source of coverage treating baseball in Asia with the same type of analysis that was going on in the states. I wanted stats on Asian players, breakdowns of the game that were the same as the ones used with baseball in MLB, and there wasn't really a site like that. So we made one ourselves.

12. What American team do you support?


13. What is your first baseball memory?

I don't know about the first, but it mostly involved games in the Metrodome when the Twins were under the Calvin Griffith regime. I played a lot of strat-o-matic as a kid and collected baseball cards. I had an old Rod Carew card in my desk, the '77 one where he's changing his helmet. I was born in '75, so I was two then.

14. What is your favorite baseball memory?

Being at Game 6 of the 1987 world series and the Twins winning that game.

15. What do you hope to take away from your experience of Taiwanese baseball?
Hopefully a career as a director of international scouting someday.

16. What is the general feeling about the poor showing in the Classic?

My own feeling is frustration that not everyone with power to make changes are taking the necessary steps to try to improve the game or getting the right message from the poor showing. The rest of the feeling, well, I think people are angry and disappointed. They see other Pacific Rim countries improving rapidly around them and want to know why their own team isn’t improving also, especially because there is no lack of talented players here.

17. How do Taiwanese really feel about baseball?

They live and breathe it. There's a picture of a baseball team on their currency. Everyone here knows about it, follows it to some degree, pays attention to it.

18. What can you tell us about the gambling/game-fixing problems in Taiwan.

Gambling is really embedded in the culture here, and like any form of vice or corruption if there isn't a form of oversight or some kind of incentive to change the behavior it won't change. While I believe that those in baseball know its going on, there’s a kind of wink wink nudge nudge agreement and tacit understanding that its part of how things work here and it’s an accepted part of the game. Plus, since there's no free agency and most players in the CBPL know they are there for life, why not throw one down the middle accidentally if it means you'll get a few grand or more for it?

19. What else would you like to say, on any baseball subject?

Thanks for reading our site...we always feel good knowing what we do is getting out there and people read and appreciate it.

Okay, it was only 19 Questions, but I don't know that much about baseball in Taiwan.

I agree completely with Jackson' assessment of how the American sports media treats baseball outside the U.S. It's too much of a, "Oh, look, they play baseball, how cute" mentality. And they couldn't be further from the truth. And he's a Strat-o-Matic guy. Cool.

Thanks, Jackson, very much for taking the time to do this. Good luck with the blog.

Even if you don't go every day, please go check out the site and read a few posts. It will be worth the time.

1 comment:

Misanthropy Today said...

really interesting.. i wanted to spend more time in Taiwan when I was in Southern China, especially so I could see baseball. Wish I had known you when I was there.