OTTAWA – I have spent the good part of this season living vicariously through the Marinerds blog and the Marines email newsletter – oh and the website too. Today they are advertising Karawaka goods and of course I want to get my hands on it… the thing is, I’ll actually get to go see a game in less than a month!!!!! I’m so excited! The website tells me that I will be in Chiba for a match up with the Fighters. Sweeeeet!
Marines beat Eagles 6-0 and Karakawa takes the win May 10, 2009
OTTAWA – Here’s the thing. My hometown Vancouver Canucks have been hitting the ice hard all season, did a fantastic job taking the quarterfinals and are now tied 2-2 with the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference semifinals. The Stanley Cup playoffs have been a blast to follow and are a great way to feel camaraderie among Vancouvorites across the nation… but I still miss Japanese baseball. A LOT. The Marines are in 6th place in the Pacific League right now but are only one win behind last year’s champions, the Lions, and I’m sure that things will change up for them really soon! It’s pretty strange to think that the Eagles are in 1st place. It looks like the Fighters have nudged their way up their too.
Ugh. I picked up some sort of stomach bug while traveling and have been catching up on my Japanese baseball all week. So happy to see that the Marines beat the Eagles 2 out of the 3 games over the weekend. The best part is that Yuki Karakawa took the win for the Marines. Go Marines Go!!
I’ve been enjoying the pictures and stories from Deanna’s Marine Stadium adventures at http://marinerds.blogspot.com/2009/05/game-reportphotopost-eagles-marines.html.
Spring Training January 24, 2009
OTTAWA – Here I am sitting at home doing course readings on a Saturday morning and all I can think of is how much I want to go to Marines Stadium to see the Marines play! I’m still getting the emails from Team 26 and getting weekly updates on fun things that the franchise is putting together for their fans. I think that Bobby and his boys are doing a fantastic job. 2009 is a really big year for the Lotte franchise since it is celebrating its 40th year. 1969 is a pretty good year for a start date! The Lotte team started off as the Lotte Orions (after being the Daimai Orions and Tokyo Orions) and then settled on the Lotte Marines name in 1992… hmm I actually was in Japan in 1992 for the whole year. Fancy that.
As for spring training, the guys are so very very lucky to be going back to Ishigaki Island. I still can’t get over how wonderful the people on the island are and how welcoming they were to the volunteers for the triathlon. I made sure to go check out where the Marines practice when I was there. See below:
According to the official website, the Marines will be at the Ishigaki Marines Ball Park starting February 1st to the 23rd. The players and staff will be taking a break on the 4th (Wednesday), 9th (Monday), 14th (Saturday), and 19th (Thursday). If anyone is planning a trip to Okinawa, it would be a fun time to go!
All Star Game – Yokohama August 13, 2008
YOHOHAMA – Mazda All Star Game 2008! This was my first time heading out to the stadium in Yokohama. The trek wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be from Chiba but once the train started getting closer to Yokohama, people clad in yukatas and jinbes started to crowd the train. For some reason the Yokohama fireworks were scheduled at the same time as the All Star Game. It was a strange mix of people wearing gear from the 12 baseball teams and people dolled up for the fireworks at Sakuragicho station.
I went inside just as the “Homerun King” face off was about to begin. Since my seat was out in the bleachers a lot of the balls that were hit into the stands came flying by. It was really fun to see Alex Ramirez ‘s (Yomiuri Giants) homeruns zoom by. Unfortunately G.G. Sato (Seibu Lions) really wasn’t hitting that well and his time out to bat was pretty short. All of the balls that didn’t make it over the fence were left for school boys in uniforms to catch out on the field. Some of the boys had bulging pockets with a ball in each pocket while others were frantically running to catch their own prize.
As the clock ticked closer to 18:00, more and more people poured into the stands. I was so excited to cheer on all of my favorite Pacific League teams at the same time! It turned out that the person sitting next to me was wearing a Tsuyoshi Nishioka (Chiba Lotte Marines) and his friend next to him was wearing a Masahiro Tanaka (Rakuten Eagles) uniform so I knew I was in good company. My whole row was jumping up and down when the Pacific Leaguers were up to bat just like at Marine Stadium. Some guy who sat two rows behind me knew every single song for each player so he was leading the chants in our section.
The starting lineup for the Pacific League was Tsuyoshi and Ohmatsu from the Marines, Yamasaki and Rick from the Eagles, Inaba from the Nippon Ham Fighters, Kataoka and Nakajima from the Lions, and Matsunaka from the Softbank Hawks. Then the remaining Pacific League All Stars were called out one by one. Everyone came out in a “normal” way but of course Hichori (Morimoto form the Fighters) had to do something different. When he first came out the announcers were confused and announced that Hichori came out doing a handstand but once our eyes adjusted you could see that he had put his pants on his head and his shirt on his legs and attached a head to his crotch… I have no idea where his inspirations come from but it was pretty funny to watch him during the singing of the national anthem by Kumi Koda.
The Central League All Stars were slightly blinding in their all-white uniforms and was more difficult to tell them apart. However, I did manage to catch Alex Ramirez (or “Rami chan”) come out from the dugout but was soon distracted by Hichori again and went back to watching him interact with his team. It was great to have a chance to see the Central Leaguers since I usually only watch Pacific League games. For example, I know that Kenshin Kawakami of the Chunichi Dragons (last year’s champs) has a huge following so it was a treat to see him pitch.
Hisashi Iwakuma, the Eagle’s ace pitcher, had a couple of good innings and everything was going well until Yoshihisa Naruse of the Marines took the mound. It was seriously the most painful pitching I have ever seen. I might not remember this correctly but he gave up something like 11 hits and 8 runs in a couple of innings!! This was totally unexpected, especially coming from the man who gave up fewer runs than Yu Darvish in the 2007 season. What happened Naruse?? In an interview after the game, he didn’t even know what happened「自分でも分からない」were his words after the game. Seriously painful pitching. As for something good, Ohmatsu was on a roll and hit two homers. July was a fantastic month for Ohmatsu and I believe that he was given MVP status for July.I am not sure why he does this but every second time I went to take I picture of him he had his hand in his left pocket. So here he is in his favorite position.
One of my favorite moments of the evening was when the mascots of every team came out to roll a gigantic baseball from one end of the field to the other. The Central League mascots and the Pacific League mascots were out to get each other and kept derailing the ball rolling process. It was really fun to watch and people near first base even got to participate. I know that I am biased but Mar-kun is the cutest mascot! I’ll have to find a new home for my Mar-kun mascot when I get a new phone in Canada.
For the last few innings, I had a friend sneak me around to different seats behind the Japanese journalists covering the event. (I noticed that a lot of them had red-penned Naruse’s 6-run inning as they were taking notes). For some reason beyond anything I can comprehend, there was a musical interlude by Yuko Ogura (an idol) and her non-musically gifted friends. I feel like the baseball was enough entertainment as well as the Yokohama fireworks in the background but the organizers threw in some idols to spice some things up.
Ahh and yes, I got to see Ma-kun pitch! Yay!! He only pitched for one inning. If you recall Ma-kun was pulled form the team roster because of a rumoured right-shoulder injury. There was talk that he would miss the All Star game as well as the Olympics but he worked on his arm and gave it some rest. I hope that he isn’t pushing himself too hard and that he has actually recovered from the injury. The Eagles don’t need another Iwakuma… especially since the team rakes in huge merchandise profits due to Ma-kun’s popularity. When I got home and watched the highlights, there was so little focus on who hit what when but a lot of attention was paid to Ma-kun’s one inning. Go figure.
Please excuse my delayed posts – haven’t had internet access since moving out of Chiba and there seem to be very few wireless spots in this country….
ISHIGAKI & CHIBA – My host mother is a gem! She sent me a care package from Ishigaki Island. Two pineapples and two mangos – I already ate a pineapple before taking the picture… And to top it off, she sent me a newspaper from July 25, the day after Ohmine had his first win. He did make front-page news!
The article starts off like: Pitcher Yuto Ohimine (20) of the Chiba Lotte Marines (who graduated from Yaeyama Shogo Senior High School) was in the starting lineup against the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters on the 24th, this forth game this season, and went on to mark his first win.
Ohmine pitched 89 balls, six innings, etc. See? The Marines make front-page Yaeyama News, especially when the article is Ohmine related.
Afternoon Fun at Marine Stadium July 30, 2008
CHIBA – Now that I have had a chance to rest a little, I am feeling a bit more clear headed. Again, a great big “thank you” to the Marines staff. I was lucky enough to have a chance to go to the dugout yesterday and say my final good byes (but only sort of because I sent and said good bye after the game too…oh well).
Below: This is what it looks like from the bench in the afternoon before a game. I just missed an interview with Tsuyoshi Nishioka when I arrived. Since this was the last game before the All Star Game and only a few days away from the start of the Olympics, there were a lot of camera crews and reporters.
I saw a lot of familiar faces amongst the TV crews. There were people from Fuji TV, sports papers, and many other media outlets. It was seriously scorching hot on the field yesterday so I have a lot of respect for the journalists and their patience. It really takes a certain kind of person to go get a story day after day no matter what the weather has in store.
It was great to see members of Team Japan out practicing before the game. The Marines players must have no clue who I am and why I am there… but it was nice to watch things unfold on the field. Here is a picture of Satozaki out at practice yesterday (and you can also see Saburo in the background getting ready to catch).
Satozaki, Naruse, and Nishioka adorn the cover of the Marines magazine this week. They are on the cover with an image of the Japanese flag in the background. There aren’t any home games at Marine Stadium before the 13th so I was really, really fortunate to be able to catch these guys before they head off to the Beijing Olympics.
Coach Frank Ramppen had to fill me in about Monday’s game and to explain why Ohmatsu was being greeted like a rock star. I had no idea how amazingly well Shouitsu Ohmatsu (no. 10) has been doing this season but he hits when it counts. He has had a lot of great hits. For example, he hit a three-run homer on Monday after the Rakuten Eagles were up 3-0. According to his profile, he played in 77 games in the 2007 season and this year he has already played in 94. At the rate he is hitting you can bet to see him in a lot more.
Yay! I got a picture with Frank. If you ever see him riding his bike around the Makuhari area, just remember that he is one of the nicest foreigners around town. I met his wife (gorgeous!) and his kids (soooooo cute!!) last night during the game. Really, really nice family. It’s been a pleasure helping translate/interpret for them during my time in Chiba City. I hope that they enjoy the rest of their stay in Japan.
Though you can only see the back of Larry, you know that he is hard at work. If you are a foreigner, group of foreigners etc. who love watching baseball and want to come out to a game, he is the person to get in contact with. It can be a bit challenging trying to figure out how to buy tickets or box seats etc. through the Japanese ticket-buying system but Larry is the expert and can help you sort things out. I really hope that more people will come out and experience the fun at Marine Stadium, especially in the summer. The fireworks are a blast and so is the dancing at the end of the evening outside the stadium. Many of the games are also sponsored so you may have a chance to walk away with prizes.
Ohmine adds a 1 July 25, 2008
SAPPORO – The Marines beat the Fighters last night 5-2. Not only was it the only baseball game yesterday, but the Marines beat the Fighters in their home stadium for the second straight night and Yuta Ohmine, the pitcher from Ishigaki Island, won his first game at the farthest possible stadium from home. Considering that Ishigaki is 1,952Km from Tokyo, and is only 278Km from Taipei, Sapporo must feel very foreign to him. I can only imagine how excited everyone in Ishigaki was last night when they heard of Ohmine’s first win.