Sunday, August 05, 2007

Game Report: Marines vs. Fighters - Hori-ble

Marines 5, Fighters 4

Today I went to a baseball game at Chiba Marine Stadium! Yay! Only problem is that it really takes forever from where I'm living to get there. I left my apartment in Warabi at 2:45pm and got to the stadium around 4:45pm; had to walk 20 mins to the station, take a train to Tokyo station, walk 10 minutes to change to the Keiyo line, take that train out to Makuhari, then I ended up walking to the stadium instead of bussing, because I met a random older guy on the train who wanted to practice English and talk about baseball with me, and who am I to refuse that?

(He was pretty interesting; had been to the US for baseball games TEN TIMES, each time going to St Louis because he saw the Cardinals play in Japan when he was really really young. He's been to 23 stadiums in the US. When I told him I had been to 10 stadiums in Japan he was absolutely astounded; though he was probably more astounded later when it came out that I knew all kinds of random trivia off the top of my head like Darvish's birthday and Yukio Tanaka's high school and whatnot. Anyway, his English was really pretty good and we talked until I got in line to buy a ticket, since he was going to sit on the Marines fan side and I was going to sit with the Fighters. Oh yeah, he also had told me that he watched the Mariners-Boston game at like 7am or something crazy, and saw them lose to Matsuzaka.)

So yeah. I guess I got into a seat around 5-5:10ish. Oh, you guys in Seattle will NEVER believe this, but among the food selections in the visitor's outfield concession they have IVAR'S CLAM CHOWDER. I am not making that up and it is actually called Ivar's specifically and even has the same cardboard bowls. They also had cheesesteaks which I wasn't courageous enough to try.

I ended up sitting down next to another older guy and his friend, since I wanted to sit in the back row of the front half -- that way I could lean against the bar behind the seat, since they have no backs there. There was a guy around my age a few seats to my right (wearing an Ogasawara jersey no less) but he didn't try to talk to me. See, for some reason Japanaese guys in their 40's-50'sish really like to talk to me, which is sort of always pretty funny to me, but younger people don't as much. This time I totally didn't mind, especially because after talking to me for a while, and watching me write kanji names in my scorecard and all, the older guy (who spoke absolutely no English, too) kept buying me drinks when he'd go buy them for him and his friend, so he kept coming back with a third for me, like chu-hai and some grape drink and whatnot. He said it was in return for me teaching him how to keep score, but in reality I think it was just because he thought my bizarre gaijin-ness was entertaining; he nearly lost it when I called Mitch Jones a gaijin, and when I was singing Oi Hokkaido after a run scored, he was like "That is SO WEIRD for an American to be singing that!" He did also say that Japanese people don't really keep scorecards because they are usually too busy either singing or drinking during games. But I kept score AND was singing and drinking, so...

ANYWAY, the game was actually pretty exciting. Mitsuo Yoshikawa was starting for the Fighters -- he's a 19-year-old lefty hotshot kid, was our #1 draft pick this past year, so it was cool to get to see him. Shingo Ono started for the Marines, and I think this is actually the third time I've seen him start a game, somehow.

In all honesty, most of my game notes don't have anything to do with the gameplay itself, but let's see. I mean, my first note is about waving to Hichori Morimoto and having him wave back. (I should mention that I was wearing a Tsuboi #7 oldskool Fighters t-shirt and a Hichori towel around my neck.) My second note is about the Marines' Hayakawa utterly failing to hit a sac bunt and INSTEAD grounding into a double play, prompting the guy next to me to be like "That's very major-league like, right? Where everyone sucks at bunting?"

Julio Zuleta, who is still injured-ish, was at the stadium and they showed him on the big screen waving to everyone at one point.

The game stayed scoreless for 3 innings, and then the Fighters finally got a run in the 4th when Inaba started off with a double, was eventually bunted up, and batted in by Mitch Jones of all people, hence my singing Oi Hokkaido and high-fiving everyone. Unfortunately the Marines struck back in the bottom of the 4th and scored THREE runs, with a walk and three straight hits, two of which were doubles. I was sad that I had to root against Satozaki, who batted in the first run, but alas.

(Jose Ortiz's cheer music is to the tune of Glory Glory Hallelujah or whatever that military march is called. Bizarre.)

In the 5th inning, they had fireworks -- the Marines mascots shot a baseball over the centerfield scoreboard and suddenly it erupted in fireworks. It was pretty. During the bottom of the 5th they finally took Yoshikawa out of the game, and Hichori and Kudoh were hanging out in centerfield during the pitching change with their gloves on their head (like Hichori/Inaba/Shinjo used to do last year) and Mitch Jones was just standing there in left. So the guy next to me was like "Look at Jones standing there alone! He isn't at the meeting! Here, you go tell him in English!"

The Marines scored two more runs in the 6th. Hayakawa hit a triple, too.

In the 7th, right after a cheer of "Home run, home run, Seguignol," he actually hit a home run over the centerfield fence. That was kind of cool. Sadly it only brought the score to 5-4, and that's where it would stay. Interestingly, both closers came into the game -- Hillman brought in Micheal Nakamura in the 8th, and Valentine brought in Masa Kobayashi to pitch the 9th.

Bobby also made the 7th inning take ninety years by having THREE pitching changes -- Ogino to Fujita to Kanda to Yabuta. Poor Marines fans were waiting with their balloons for the 7th inning stretch forever!

The Fighters lost, but it was a fun game.

I got a new lyrics sheet since I didn't know the cheers for Koyano, or Tsuruoka, or even the silly new one for Naoto Inada, so now I have to go learn those.

Oh, Tomochika Tsuboi did come into the game later on, and he struck out after a bazillion pitches, but then he played left field and was standing right in front of where we were, and... uh, he may be the best-looking high-socks-wearing player I've ever seen. Just awesome calf muscles, he really does the high socks something good. Kudoh and Hashimoto also had high socks, and no Marines players did that I recall.

The title of this post is just because Koichi Hori went 2-for-3. He always does that every time I start thinking of how damn old he is.

There were four baseball games in the greater Kanto area today -- 66% of Japan's baseball teams were playing here -- so after getting out at Tokyo station to change lines, I saw people coming from the Yokohama-Chunichi game and the Giants-Swallows game. Pretty neat to see so many baseball jerseys all over.

I need to get out of this internet cafe before I totally fall asleep, so if I remember anything else maybe I'll add it later.

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