The day after right fielder Kosuke Fukudome made his Major League debut against the Brewers at Wrigley Field, he blogged about it on his Japanese Web site. "I don't quite feel like a real Major Leaguer yet," he wrote, "but my first at bat was greeted by such amazing cheers and the Chicago fans, said to be especially tough, gave me such a warm welcome that I felt like I was truly a member of the team. I was so relieved!
"I couldn't help but laugh a little," he adds, "at the signs that read 'How unexpected!' (^_^;)"
Photos of Cubs fans carrying the signs he's referring to (see above) are all over Japanese blogs and news sites. Transliterated, the signs read "Guuzen da zo!"--the kind of thing you'd say if you bumped into someone you were just thinking about calling. "Guuzen" also means "chance," "sudden(ly)," and "accident(al)," and that's why it's such an endearingly curious way to welcome a talented new player; search "accidental" (and scroll down a little) on this popular message board for an ASCII art rendition of the joke.
From what I've seen, there's no disrespect meant to resourceful Cubs fans eager to reach out to Fukudome. As this blogger pointed out, online translators are likely to blame. Google Translate offers "Guuzen da zo!" as the translation of "It’s gonna happen" (look closely and you'll see the Cubs mantra on the back of the sign in the photo). And sometimes it shoots back the much less catchy and even more puzzling "Shinrai kachitoru okoru." I asked my old editor in Tokyo to help explain the translation. "'Shinrai o kachitoru' means 'gain someone's trust,'" he said, "but to stick 'okoru'* on the end is weird."