Monday, September 18, 2006

I'm still alive

Sort of. I survived the plane flight back, and no, we weren't eaten by a typhoon.

You know, one of my absolute best Japanese baseball memories wasn't actually from this last trip, but was from my trip in April of 2004. I trekked out to Chiba Marine Stadium by myself to see the Fighters play the Marines, sit in the Fighters cheering section, and yell and scream and sing and cheer. I got there early, got a lyrics sheet, and took a seat in the middle of the cheering section, in the middle of a bunch of people who looked at me funny at first.

By the end of the game I was just one of the gang, high-fiving everyone when the team scored runs, chatting about how awesome they were, about how cold the weather was, and sticking around to do the victory songs and cheers, etc, and riding the high as the Fighters won the game. I got on the bus back to the station, and this one guy, maybe ten years older than me, in a Fighters jersey saw me and my Fighters jersey, and looked confused at first, and then said,

"Gaijin da yo..." ("You're a foreigner...?")

"Hai, demo yakyuu ga daisuki da ne!" ("Well, yeah, but I LOVE baseball!")

Well, we get off that bus, and I get on a train at the station, and sure enough, that same guy is on the same car as me.

So he comes over and sits next to me, and despite him not speaking a word of English, and my Japanese being decent but not spectacular, and at the time my baseball vocabulary wasn't all that great either, we sat and talked about baseball and the Fighters for about half an hour. His first year as a Fighters fan was 1981, when they made it to the Japan Series but lost to the Giants in 6 games. I told him about being a Phillies fan when I was a kid, and talked about the Mariners and Ichiro a little bit of course as well. It was really pretty cool.

Anyway, when he reached his stop he said something to me like "Please come back to Japan and cheer for the Fighters again. You'll make them win for sure!"

Well, they've won 20 of their last 24 games and are in first place by a tiny, tiny sliver (79-52 .603, to 77-51-2 .602 and 75-50-5 .600).

I know Seibu gets an easy schedule down the stretch, facing Lotte and Rakuten, while the Fighters and Hawks have to play against each other at the end of the month, but still. I love this team.

And to the guy from the train that day -- I hope they get to the Series, and I hope you get to go with them.

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