MESA — Yu Darvish is the only human being on the planet who has the following two abilities: He can throw nine different pitches on the mound and then, while hanging out in the clubhouse after the game, the Chicago Cubs righty can guess your blood type.
It might be the strangest party trick anyone’s ever heard of, but for those who know the Cubs right-hander, it’s just another quirky aspect of his ever-emerging personality. Blood types are more commonly talked about in Japanese culture but even with that knowledge, Darvish isn’t exactly sure how he came about this unique ability. It’s just something he can do.
“It’s what I might use in casual conversation,” Darvish explained recently at Cubs camp. “Like [catcher] Victor Caratini might walk by and we’ll carry on the conversation.” And from that conversation, Darvish can guess his blood type. He explains:
“So there is Type A. That person is organized. Type B isn’t exactly selfish but he goes his own way. Type O is laid back, a ‘whatever happens’ type of guy. AB is weird or different.”
As he says all this, his catcher actually walks by. Darvish points back at Caratini as he passes.
“He’s Type B,” Darvish says with a smile. “I know it.”
But was he right? That’s the one problem with this party trick. Who actually knows their own blood type?
In Japan, it’s common, but only a couple of Cubs players actually knew theirs and the information is not kept in their regular medical charts. When a few teammates heard Darvish could guess blood types, they went scrambling to find out their own.
“I almost gave my mother a heart attack,” first baseman Anthony Rizzo said with a laugh.
Rizzo called his mom to find out but without any explanation, she got worried. Alas, no transfusions were needed for her son, but she didn’t know his blood type. Neither did Kris Bryant‘s mom or dad. However, Darvish’s agent, Joel Wolfe, did know his — which Darvish guessed correctly.
“It all started during his free-agent year , when we were meeting with teams,” Wolfe explained. “We were at one of his favorite spots in Dallas for dinner, after meeting with all these general managers and assistant general managers. All these new people for him. And he mentions something about one of them being Type A blood type. That struck me as odd. He says unusual things, sometimes, so I pressed him. And he said he could guess most people’s blood type if he knows them. So he guessed mine. I had to call my mom, but he got it right.
“Then he was guessing a few people we knew in common.”
As far-fetched as it all sounds, no one was completely shocked that Darvish could do something so outlandish. After signing a six-year, $126 million contract with the Cubs a couple of seasons ago, his personality went into hibernation for about a year coinciding with an arm injury. As he got healthy, things started to change. He came out of his shell, getting to show his teammates a side of himself they hadn’t seen while at the same time, turning around a fan base that had turned on him that first year.
“He’s got a great personality,” teammate Tyler Chatwood said. “His first year here he was a little shy, getting to know everyone. That’s normal. Now he’s being able to show it. You’re getting to see what kind of a person he is and I think it’s released his ability on the field which is cool to see.”
The Cubs believe that as Darvish has become more comfortable, his performance has improved. He’s a must-follow on Twitter and now his most unique ability is known.
“Hmmm, Chatwood,” Darvish says in deep thought. “He’s a Type B or O. … He’s kind of too himself but also laid back.”
In fact, Chatwood is Type O blood. He was one of the few Cubs who knew his own blood type. We’ll give Darvish credit for that one.
“That’s a strange, hidden talent,” infielder Daniel Descalso said. “Some guys can juggle. Some guys can do card tricks. I’ve never heard of guessing blood types.”
“That’s crazy,” newcomer Steven Souza said. “I played with Zack Greinke, who’s an interesting character. I love him. He’s different but sometimes different is better. If you’re going to be elite in this game, you’re going to be a little different. You think a little different than the rest of the group. I think that’s what makes [Darvish] special. The way he calculates is different than everyone else.”
Souza may have hit the nail on the head in assessing Darvish. What makes him quirky might be part of what makes him elite. As for guessing Souza’s blood type, Darvish isn’t ready.
“I don’t know him well yet,” he said. “I need to spend some time with someone.”
OK, so who does he feel comfortable guessing?
“I talk to Kyle Hendricks a lot,” Darvish said. “He’s definitely a Type A. He’s organized. A lot of Japanese players are Type A as well. It’s really about how they carry a conversation. I know Kyle because we have many conversations.”
When informed of the ability, several players went to Darvish to get the truth.
“I asked him,” Chatwood recalled. “It’s something they study or is part of their culture. It’s crazy.”
So add another chapter to the ever-emerging persona of Yu Darvish. He can spin the ball with the best of them but none of the rest of baseball’s top pitchers can guess your blood type.