Orientalmix

Adventures from the Far East and Beyond

Marines beat Eagles 6-0 and Karakawa takes the win May 10, 2009

Filed under: Chiba Lotte Marines — orientalmix @ 6:43 pm
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Yuki Karakawa (no. 19) on the jumbotron  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.

 

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

 

 

 

Ishigaki treats

Filed under: Chiba Lotte Marines — orientalmix @ 1:12 am
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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….

Sweet treats from Ishigaki

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

Filed under: Chiba Lotte Marines — orientalmix @ 1:29 am
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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.

Inside the Marines dugout

Inside the Marines dugout

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 out at practice

Satozaki out at practice

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.

Ohmatsu being interviewed

Ohmatsu being interviewed

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.

Coach Frank Ramppen and I

Coach Frank Ramppen and I

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.

Larry Rocca at work

Larry Rocca at work

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.

 

Last Lotte Game (;_;) & last game before the All Stars July 29, 2008

Filed under: 1 — orientalmix @ 2:39 pm
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CHIBA – I just got back from my last Chiba Lotte Marines gam (8-2 Marines!!)

 Am soooooooooooo sad. I have been having so much fun cheering on the home team this season. I know for sure that this is one thing that I will really miss about living in Chiba. For the past week, I have been trying to cut down my belongings and make everything fit in to two suitcases and three boxes. Needless to say that this has been quite the struggle. 

Ah… back to baseball: I was hoping to see one full game out in the bleachers as my last hurrah but it turned out that I had to interpret for guests from our sister city, North Vancouver, until after 7:30 tonight. I made it just in time for the top of the 6th but missed the fireworks and the crazy 6 runs in the bottom of the 4th. Um and yes, I was crazy enough to go see the game by myself tonight. I actually had many offers to go with people but since I had no idea what time I would make it, I figured that I would just go alone. It turned out to be a good call since the women that I sat next to were really a lot of fun. We cheered for the home team during the 7th and 8th innings together. As luck would have it, I discovered that I was only sitting a few rows away from the children and wives of coaches. They were also a delight to chat to. 

Though I am heartbroken that I won’t be able to catch another game until who-knows-when, I know that I can always count on the Marines website for information on the team.

I am really, truly, grateful for the opportunities that I have been given by the staff of the Chiba Lotte Marines. There is no way that I would have been given these types of opportunities back home. It’s been quite the ride.

A huuuuge thank you to Frank, Larry, Paul, and most of all, the big man himself, Mr. Bobby Valentine.

 

Ohmine adds a 1 July 25, 2008

Filed under: 1,Chiba Lotte Marines — orientalmix @ 1:47 am
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A beautiful view of Ishigaki

A beautiful view of Ishigaki

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.

 

Summer at Marine Stadium July 22, 2008

Filed under: Chiba Lotte Marines — orientalmix @ 1:58 am
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Summer vacation has finally arrived for children in Japan! I just took a list of all of the great things going on at Marine stadium this summer and thought I would share what I discovered.

Summer '07 at Marine Stadium

Summer '07 at Marine Stadium

Here is a list of some of the regular events taking place at the stadium:

1. Photo areas (July 28 and 29, Aug 13 – 18, 24 – 28) : There will be life-size cutouts of the star players set up at special photo booths. There will also be life-size blow up picture of the posters with players and game schedules (Imae, Ohmatsu, etc.) One neat Olympic addition is that there will be life-size cutouts of Marines players who are off to Beijing in their old uniforms. That’s Naruse, Tsuyoshi, and Satozaki.

Where: Third floor, third base side, gate 20 concourse

2. “Marines Bon Odori” -Japanese summer festival dance (July 28 – 29, August 13 – 18, 24 – 28) : Marines mascots (Mar-kun, Rin-chan, Zu-kun), and the M-Splash cheerleaders will lead summer festival dances after the games to the tune of “We Love Marines Bon Odori” – there will be other songs too. Come join in the festivities.

Where/when: 20 min post game, in front of Marines Stadium and the bus terminal loop

3. “Makuhari Fire” – fireworks (July 28 – 29, August 13 – 18, 24 – 28) : The fireworks are back! Fireworks will fill the sky at Marines Stadium at the bottom of the fifth.

When: Bottom of the fifth inning

4. Fireworks tour (July 28 – 29, August 13 – 18, 24 – 28) : You and your child (10 and under) can enjoy the fireworks from the field! Two children per guardian. Note: A guardian must be present.

Where/when: First 100 couple/pairs to line up at F gate before the game. Numbered tickets will be given out 30 min before the start of the game.

I hope this helps convince some of you out there to hop on a train to Makuhari! You can spend hours and hours enjoying your time at Marine Stadium and the surrounding neighbourhood. If you find yourself looking for a few hours to kill, I suggest wondering around the Makuhari outlet and going for a good crepe or two.

And yes, I am kicking myself for booking my flight home on the 12th. Wanted to catch a full day at Marine Stadium before heading back to Canada but the first home game in August is on the 13th…