Sunday, November 19, 2006

Fighters Victory Parade!

I can count on one hand the amount of things I can clearly recall from the first 4-5 years of my life:

- when my little brother was born
- spraining my ankle jumping off a table (you think little boys do stupid things, you should see the stupid things little tomboys do)
- getting my first library card
- my grandfather dying
- the Phillies winning the World Series

Thus, getting to see pictures of yesterday's Fighters Japan Series victory parade in Sapporo brought back a really long-buried memory of mine, being outside in Philadelphia on a cold October morning trying to see the Phillies parade going by, too small to see much, too big to stay on my dad's shoulders for very long, too scared of the hundreds of thousands of people cheering.

According to Sankei Sports and others, approximately 143,000 fans came out for the parade, even though it was about 40 degrees out. The parade started with an opening ceremony in front of the south entrance to the JR Sapporo station, where a full band played the Fighters team songs and various people spoke, including the governor of Hokkaido and the mayor of Sapporo. The parade went for approximately 1.3 kilometers, heading south at about 2-3 km/h. Most of the players were on top of two buses, waving to the crowds. Several were either in uniform or wearing Fighters jackets, except Shinjo, who was wearing plain clothes (and tossing his designer bracelets into the crowd). In front of the buses were three cars; manager Trey Hillman and player rep Makoto Kaneko were in the front car, while team captain Yukio Tanaka and veteran pitcher Satoru Kanemura followed in another car, and Yoshinori Tateyama and Shinji Takahashi were in another car behind them.

Shinjo gave a shivering Hichori Morimoto a scarf to wear. "I forgot my long sleeves," Hichori said. "The cold made me very tense. But gathering outside the ballpark like this made me so happy!"

"The confetti makes it look more like Hokkaido with snow falling, doesn't it?" said Makoto Kaneko. "Seeing everyone smiling was great, too."

Doshin sports had a truck out there that said "シンジテタ!日本一" ("We believed! Japan Champions", a reference to Trey Hillman's saying "I can't believe it!" so much), and as they reported, fans held up signs that said anything from "thank you Shinjo!" to "don't go, Ogasawara".

Yu Darvish looks so incredibly happy. And so incredibly young.

Kensuke Tanaka couldn't be at the parade because he had an operation on the 16th to remedy an embedded bone fracture that apparently was a result of getting hit by a pitch by Nagisa Arakaki in the summer of 2004. (Sorry, I suck at medical terms, Japanese article here. The end of the above linked Sankei article says it was the top of his ankle.)

Lefty relief ace and Fukudome-killer Hideki Okajima was at the parade, saying that as a free agent, he's had offers from a few MLB teams, and is likely to accept as they've offered him more money.

And as for other free agents... Ogasawara looks pretty happy waving from the top of the bus. Hopefully all of the "Please don't go, Ogasawara!" signs had an effect on him.

Approximately 3,000 people volunteered to clean up the confetti after the parade.

(I see that there's clips of the parade of up on Youtube -- no idea whether they'll stay there. Eight segments: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8, about 9 mins each. The second one has the opening ceremony. The third one actually has the exact lineup of who's in what bus at about 5 mins in. Parade starts in segment 4 with Hichori running around on the bus like a weirdo. Segment 5 starts off with confetti. In segment 6 the parade passes by the office building the TV guys are narrating/shouting from (and the band is playing "Seishun Amigo"?! WTF?))

Oh, and the 2006 Fighters DVD was released on Saturday as well! I need to go order my copy.

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