No, just kidding. The Lotte Marines Mind Control Task Force let us go on the field before the game and I got to take a bunch of pictures and talk to a bunch of people and hopefully not put my foot in my mouth too much.
Me with some guy. I think he's the Lotte manager or something.
The quick version is that Larry gave us a backstage tour of the stadium, and it's pretty neat (even aside from things like "Uh, did Johnny Kuroki just walk past us?"). And I got to talk to Bobby Valentine, who is really great, especially because we really do share the belief that baseball here in Japan truly is awesome for what it is, not for what could be exported. Oh, and there was a game. And it was Tsuyoshi Wada vs. Shunsuke Watanabe which is already a pretty great pitching matchup, PLUS it was a gorgeous sunny afternoon and we were sitting in the second row in the nifty field seats in front of the screens with our cameras and so if I wait to go through all 650 pictures I took I will never write an entry.
Wada had a no-hitter going through 4.2 innings -- really through 6.1, but they called a Benny bloop a hit, even though Nakazawa and Shibahara lost the ball in the sun and allowed it to drop. Shunsuke, on the other hand, gave up a whole bunch of scattered hits and runs and came out of the game shortly after giving up a home run to Mitsuru Honma in the 7th inning, behind 4-0. But the Marines rallied back to get 3 runs in their half of the 7th. Larry stopped by in the 8th and I told him to apologize to Shunsuke for me for the bad luck I brought him again. He said, "No problem, we're going to win today."
So with the score at 4-3 going into the bottom of the 9th, CJ Nitkowski came in for the save (since Mahara's having shoulder problems I'm not really clear on who's the Hawks' closer) and Takehara led off with a double, then Benny grounded out moving Takehara to third. I was positive Saburo would hit another sac fly, but Shibahara smartly let his pop foul fly fall instead of catching it; instead, Saburo walked. Imae also walked. Bases loaded for... Masahiko Tanaka! (No, the Rakuten pitcher is Masahiro.) Tanaka hit a single to left and it was 4-4! Then Keisuke Hayasaka grounded to third, but Matsuda threw home for the force out on Saburo. Two outs. The next batter was Tsuyoshi Nishioka, and he was 0-for the day, so you could say he was due. And do he did, hitting a low liner to left, Imae running home and the entire team running out to dump water on Nishioka and to, er, "congratulate" Tanaka and Nishioka:
And this is how they treat their game heroes.
I feel a little bit bad for CJ Nitkowski, actually, but that's another story.
Anyway, I have a bazillion pictures to go through and miles to go before I sleep. I'll write another entry about the game soon, I promise.