Orientalmix

Adventures from the Far East and Beyond

Japan takes second baseball Classic!! March 24, 2009

Filed under: Rakuten Eagles — orientalmix @ 6:22 am
Tags: , ,

Samurai Japan Hisashi Iwakuma

OTTAWA – what a game for Japan!!!

Everyone did their part. Iwakuma was fantastic, I think he pitched 8?innings and only gave up 2 runs, Darvish took over gave up a run and tied the game in the bottom of the 9th for Korea. Ichiro got things going when he pushed Japan up two points to 5-3 in the top of the 10th. Whoa. That was some intense baseball watching for one night.

I could hardly believe my eyes when I went online tonight after class. I don’t own a TV so I went  to the WBC ’09 website but it wasn’t enough. Watching little boxes change randomly on my screen didn’t cut it. Called all of the people I could think of that lived close, liked sports, but no luck. I felt like I was the only person in downtown Ottawa watching the game. After seeing that Japan was up 1 in the 3rd inning, I had to get out of my house and off to a bar.

Begged a waiter to turn one of the TVs on to show the baseball game (the rest were showing the Calgary vs Detroit hockey game) and the guys at the bar kind of looked at me as if I were a tad crazy. After being so kind to oblige, he told me that the last time that he watched baseball was when the Blue Jays won in 1992… that was a while ago… It was crazy to see how many Korean supporters were in the stands in LA. Huge Korean flags were flying left right and center and it was so hard to call which team was going to walk out of the stadium with a trophy. Just after the bottom of the 9th, the bar I was in closed – talk about bad timing. However, they were nice enough to point out that the bar across the street might be kind enough to change one of their channels to the game. (Oh, and this whole time, a retired former government employee decided that I was fun and that he wanted to join me while I was watching the game in both bars

.) After switching venues, my father in Vancouver (who also doesn’t own a TV) called for the play by play. He caught me giving the lowdown on Ichiro’s play and Darvish’s pitching. Watching those walks was bad  for the stomach but was worth it. Catching a glimpse of Tanaka in the bullpen was a bonus too. Not sure how many people tuned into the game but I’m sure that tonight’s game put Iwakuma and Darvish’s names in people’s minds.

 

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.

 

The stands before the game

The stands before the game

 

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.

 

Pacific League cheering squad

Pacific League cheering squad

 

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.

 

 

Kumi Koda singing the national anthem

Kumi Koda singing the national anthem

 

Hichori Morimoto pulls a stunt

Hichori Morimoto pulls a stunt

 

 

 

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. 

 

The "Home run King" if the evening

Ramirez - aka the evening's home run king

 

The Central League All Stars

The Central League All Stars

 

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.

 

Ohmatsu of the Marines likes his pocket

Ohmatsu of the Marines likes his pocket

 

 

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.

 

Mascots please the crowds

Mascots please the crowds

 

Mar-kun is the cutest

Mar-kun is the cutest

 

 

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.

 

The game from a new vantage point

The game from a new vantage point

 

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. 

 

Ma-kun showing Japan he is ready to pitch

Ma-kun showing Japan he is ready to pitch

 

 

 

The Eagles’ Exercise ball July 19, 2008

Filed under: Rakuten Eagles — orientalmix @ 2:35 pm
Tags: , ,

TOKYO – When Deanna and I caught a glimpse of the Rakuten pitchers warming up at Tokyo Dome, we noticed some funny things going on with the team exercise ball. 

See exhibit A:

 

Domingo squashes teammate

Domingo squashes teammate

 

Um… I feel sorry for the player buried under the ball. It can’t be that comfortable to be squashed by Domingo Guzman (no. 99). I just checked his weight and he is not a light guy by any stretch of the imagination. He weighs in at a comfortable 92Kg (that’s just over 202lb). Ouch.

Now, see exhibit B: 

 

Tanaka talking to Hisashi Kitani (no. 54)

Tanaka talking to Hisashi Kitani (no. 54)

It may just be me but I don’t see any exercising happening in this picture. However, it’s kind of a nice candid of Kanehisa Arime (no. 26). 

And finally, exhibit C:

 

Tanaka demonstrating how to sit on an exercise ball

Tanaka demonstrating how to sit on an exercise ball

This was the only point where I feel like we saw how to “correctly use an exercise ball” – well, according to Tanaka anyway. I was secretly hoping that Tanaka would turn around while taking this show but he kept on balancing away… 

Yeesh. Just checked today’s scores. Softbank Hawks beat the Rakuten Eagles 5-4 at Kleenex Stadium. The Eagles were actually winning until at the bottom of the eighth. They haven’t had a win at Kleenex Stadium since July 2nd… But the Marines weren’t so hot today either. They lost to the Seibu Lions 17-10. Hope they win tomorrow! Good luck guys 🙂

 

Hoshino Japan July 18, 2008

Filed under: Chiba Lotte Marines,Rakuten Eagles — orientalmix @ 2:30 am

TOKYO – Tanaka is in and Saburo is out?

Manager Senichi Hoshino announced the 24 team Japan members at a press conference yesterday. From the Marines, Yoshihisa Naruse (no.17, pitcher), Tomoya Satozaki (no. 22, catcher), and Tsuyoshi Nishioka (no. 7) made it on to the team but Saburo (no. 3) was left out. Out of the four that played in the Olympic qualifying tournament this past December in Taiwan, the only player I managed to talk to on Sunday was Saburo and he said that he wasn’t optimistic about his chances of going. That’s too bad but I hope that the other three who are going make Japan proud. (I better be careful because Team Japan plays against Team Canada on August 18)

Super cute Baseball Japan file

Super cute Baseball Japan file

I picked up this “clear file” at the Tokyo Dome store on Wednesday with Deanna. I was having trouble choosing between a Tanaka file or a Stitch file but the Disney character won me over (but it’s really because I already have a different Tanaka file…). Out of the Rakuten Eagles, Tanaka (6 wins and 6 losses) was picked over Iwakuma (who has 12 wins and 3 losses). At 19, Tanaka will be the youngest member on the team. He is also pitching at the All Star Game so it looks like he has a very busy summer ahead! I’m hoping that Karakawa will make it on to the next Olympic team in four years. Yay for team 平成 Heisei .

 

Tokyo Dome Debut July 17, 2008

Filed under: 1,Rakuten Eagles — orientalmix @ 7:56 am
Tags: ,

TOKYO – Success! Went to the Nippon Ham Fighters vs. Rakuten Eagles game yesterday at Tokyo Dome.

I had several goals for yesterday and they were:

1. Meet Deanna from marinerds.blogspot.com – easily the best blog about Japanese baseball!

2. Go to Tokyo Dome – have never ever been

3. Be on the Jumbotron – I think many ppl have this dream too

4. See Masahiro Tanaka – (yes, again)

5. Sit and cheer in the outfield – first time

Number 1 was accomplished as soon as I saw a gaijin (foreigner) walking towards the exit at Korakuen Station. She was easy enough to spot in her green Hichori T-shirt. I have been wanting to go see a baseball game with her since the start of the season after Larry Rocca from the Marines introduced us virtually. She is a walking encyclopedia and knows so much about baseball here and back home. Amazing! Add in her West Coast mannerisms (she used to live in Seattle and I am originally form Vancouver) and she made a great companion to spend a day with at Tokyo Dome.

 

Deanna and I

Deanna and I

 

 

 

The Marines are in 4th... not 5th!

The Marines are in 4th... not 5th!

 

So yes, on to number 2. That was easy too. It didn’t really hit me that I was at Tokyo Dome for a bit. All together I have lived in/near Tokyo for six years but have never been to Tokyo Dome. I’m not a Giants fan nor a huge arena concert fan so I just never felt inclined to go. When I saw that the Eagles and the Fighters were playing at the dome, I begged Deanna to meet me and show me the ropes. I felt bad making her take a Wednesday off of work (especially since Yu Darvish is pitching tonight and it was Glynn yesterday)… but I think it was worth it.

 

Tokyo Dome!

Tokyo Dome!

 

 

We had lunch near Tokyo Dome at Baseball Cafe. The “diner” was decorated from ceiling to floor with lots of baseball paraphernalia. It’s kind of one of those pseudo-American style places trying to replicate something from someone’s imagination of what they think American diners should look like. It’s pretty convincing but you only needed to take one look at the pictures of the food to remind yourself you were still in Japan (funny-looking burgers patties with small fluffy white burger buns etc.). But as a lucky bonus, we were treated to a live broadcast of the American All Star Game.

As for goal number 3, wasn’t really sure if I could accomplish this but we did! My first game at Tokyo Dome and we made it on the jumbotron. The funny thing is that I specifically told Deanna that I wanted to get on the big screen. Have been to more than a few games this season but have never managed to make it on the big screen at Marine Stadium. It helped that Deanna brought along her two Nippon Ham Fighters jerseys, cheering sticks, posters, Hitchori blowup microphone, a Kensuke Nakata bright pink blow up hand, and knew Fighters fans in the first row of the outfield bleachers. We made it on to the big screen for a few second while cheering on Fighter’s players up to bat.

If you live in Sapporo and are looking for a team to cheer on, support the Fighters. The fans are very welcoming, they have song sheets prepared, and never say anything bad about the other team (even if their home team is loosing). That’s a really big feat. Deanna and I must have really stood out because after the game some fans came over and asked to take pictures with us… go figure. Yay for random gaijin power.

 

Fighters stretching in outfield

Fighters stretching in outfield

 

 

No. 4. Well, really no. 18 for the Rakuten Eagles. I spotted the Rakuten pitchers warming up and dragged Deanna over to see them with me. After Sunday, I do believe that Tanaka thinks I am a crazed Canadian fan. There was no way that he missed me then (was only standing several feet away) and he noticed us there last night… he even waved after we shouted a few “Tanaka”s and “Ma-kun”s. I even wished him good luck at the All Star Game… slightly awkward but worth it! I also shouted below to Domingo Guzman and got his attention. He singed my ticket from Sunday’s Rakuten vs Marines game. Um… he is pitching against Yu Darvish tonight. Best of luck.

 

Domingo and Tanaka (pitchers for the Rakuten Eagles)

Domingo and Tanaka (pitchers for the Rakuten Eagles)

 

Masahiro Tanaka (no. 18)

Masahiro Tanaka (no. 18)

 

 

5. We sat in the front row of the outfield bleachers! I haven’t even had the guts to sit through a game at Marine Stadium but I did it last night. It took some time to get used to the Fighters cheering songs but I got the hang of it after a while. Marines cheer songs consist of a lot of “la la la” and “ooooh” so the Fighters songs felt a bit complicated to me… I had such a great time last night at Tokyo Dome with Deanna. Am sad to think that this might be my first and last game with her but it’s safe to say that I will be living vicariously through Deanna’s blog for the next while.

 

Deanna's huge pink hand

Deanna's huge pink hand

 

 

Not sure when I will be back in Japan next but hopefully it won’t be too far down the road. If you want to read more about the game, I suggest you read marinerds.blogspot.com for the details.