First, so yeah, I'm going to be pinch-blogging for Jeff Sullivan over at Lookout Landing for a few days around the weekend while he's on a roadtrip to watch the Mariners lose in person. I don't expect things to be any different around here (and I don't expect to end up gushing about Koshien over there).
Second, Monday was Mark "The Bird" Fidrych's birthday, and I was glad to see Mark Lowe come out and kick ass in the game. He's really amazing. I dunno, maybe my initial reaction of there being a resemblance between the two is off. It was things like this pair: Lowe / Fidrych
Fidrych is one of my all-time "damn, I wish I could have seen him play" players. Lowe, well, he just keeps coming out and giving teams the bird.
Third, two more notes on Monday's game, from this article:
1) Kiko Calero apparently was also aware that yesterday's game was a rerun: "Kiko said to me in the sixth inning, 'Soriano's gonna come in and give it up,' Duchscherer said. I said, 'How do you know?' He said, 'I've watched this game a time or two.' And when it happened, he tapped my arm and said, 'I told you.'"
2) It was the one-year anniversary of Swisher's grandmother's death. Betty Lorraine Swisher was almost like a second mother to him, and he used to call her every day before games to calm himself down. He has "BLS" tattooed right over his heart (unfortunately, I can't remember any other clear pictures of it besides the infamous plug one), and yesterday, he even wrote "BLS" on his wristbands in her memory. So when he hit that home run, you could see him cross his heart and point to heaven before jubilantly high-fiving everyone in the dugout, and in that article he even says that "Milton and I were talking, wondering if my grandma and his grandpa were up there doing the home run dance."
(I know you're all probably sick of hearing about Swisher's grandmother, but it's really tough being so far from your family in those circumstances. My grandmother died on August 13th 2002, two weeks after I moved to the west coast. The only piece of jewelry I wear is a chain necklace that belonged to my grandmother, which I never take off, and it reminds me of her every day. It's dumb, but we're human. We do stuff like this.)
Fourth, I didn't even WATCH most of tonight's game, instead choosing to go to dinner with some college friends who are in town for a conference. I did catch the first two innings, so it was 3-0 when I left the house, and I checked the score on my cellphone during dinner, much to my friends' bemusement. "Did they lose yet?" "No, but it's 10-2..." "Great, so we can get dessert, right?"
If you're wondering, the squid sushi at Ototo is amazing, but the Strawberry Taiyaki dessert is really not worth it, even if your team is down by 8 runs in the 7th inning.
Fifth, it's been really awesome following Koshien. The other day I posted right before the Komadai-Aomori game started, and in the 3rd inning the Komadai pitcher Kikuchi got pulled with the team behind 7-1, and put in Masahiro Tanaka, the ace pitcher. The team rallied around him and managed to stage one of the most amazing comebacks ever to win 10-9. I had the game on in the background with no sound at work, and would occasionally look over as the Komadai team kept scoring runs. They tied it up at 8-8 in the 8th inning, and I left work to catch my bus in the 9th inning with guys on first and third for Aomori. I figured I'd get home to see it at 9-8 or 9-9 in extra innings, but this team seems to just be challenging destiny.
Nichidai Yamagata and Imabari Nishi had a crazy 13-inning see-saw game, with Takuya Abe going all 13 innings for the win for Nichidai, throwing 200 pitches, walking four and striking out ten, as Yamagata eventually won 11-10. Yow.
Chiben Wakayama beat Yaeyama Shoko 8-3, which I'm sure makes IceX pretty happy, and Waseda beat Fukui 7-1, which I'm sure makes Sadaharu Oh pretty happy. Toyodai Himeji beat Kiryu Ichi, which I'm sure makes Shigetoshi Hasegawa happy.
We're getting into the quarter-finals tomorrow, with Komadai playing Himeji and Chiben playing Teikyo; after that Waseda faces Yamagata and Kagoshima faces whoever wins the Kumamoto-Fukuchiyama match currently going on. (morning edit: Fukuchiyama won 6-3.)