Tonight, and last night, I have been watching the Yahoo! Japan web broadcasts of the Nippon Ham Fighters as they play the Seibu Lions. I guess there's one advantage to being nocturnal -- 6pm Japan time is 2am Seattle time. I was partially just watching/listening to the games so I could hear some of the players' cheer songs for nostalgia, but really, when a baseball game is on, I can't help but really watch it.
There were many things to notice in the games -- today's game in particular was awesome, because the Fighters killed the defending Japan Series champions, 15-7. The starting pitcher for the Lions was Chris Wright, who used to be in the Mariners' organization until sometime in 2003, getting as far as Tacoma before he ended up being shipped off to the CPBL (Chinese Pro Baseball League) in 2004, and now he's up with the Lions. Anyway, he got ROCKED. He faced 8 batters, got one out, gave up 5 runs, struck out none, walked two. The Fighters were just on a hot hitting streak in general, and were up 8-0 by the end of the second inning.
I took a few screenshots from the video feed. I'm sure this is entirely illegal, but I wanted to point out the following things:
1) Shinjo is still loopy. Nice gloves, dude.
2) Michihiro Ogasawara, my favorite player on the Fighters, has the weirdest stance I've ever seen. Now see -- I've been to a bunch of Fighters games when I was over in Japan -- but, I usually sat in the outfield bleachers and cheered and sang my lungs out with the oendan. Therefore, I'd never really seen a lot of the players from the best angle, so all I knew was that he held his bat outwards while hitting. With the TV feed, suddenly I can see exactly how he looks, close up:
Something you have to understand. This is not him in the middle of a swing. This is him holding his bat out BEFORE he swings. When the pitch approaches, he just takes a lazy slight curve back and whooooosh, his bat comes forward really quickly and thwacks the ball. It looks so weird and so fragile, but he hit a home run in the third inning, his fourth for the year so far. The guy can hit for average (as seen by his two consecutive Pacific League batting titles in 2002 and 2003) and can hit for power. He's also an amazing defensive first or third baseman.
3) I have no point here, I just want to show a picture of the "Hokkaido Shinbun" ad on the side of Hiroshi Narahara's hat:
Anyway, it was a very exciting game, lots of scoring. It lasted over 4 hours, which is really long for Japanese games -- the TV networks will cut them off promptly at 9pm no matter what's going on, usually.