Sunday, August 31, 2008

Game Report: Swallows vs. Baystars @ Yokohama - When it Rains, It Pours

Some guys got together tonight on the field at Yokohama Stadium and played something resembling a game of baseball while the skies opened up and poured rain on them for several hours. I think those guys were members of some professional baseball teams, namely the Yakult Swallows and Yokohama Baystars, but honestly, between the rain and the staggering 17-5 score, it's really hard to tell. Every hit off of Swallows starter Masanori Ishikawa was a home run, but it would have taken about 12 more of them to do any good for the hapless Baystars.

I showed up around 5pm and ran into Sign Guy, who I had also seen on Friday at a minor-league game between Lotte and Shonan (more on that soon; I took too many photos). He was making a sign to hold up outside about the Hanshin games next week. I left him to his work and went on in to get a ticket and go into the game and find a seat in the Baystars cheering section and all. I actually saw a group of foreigners there, and I asked if I could sit with them, and they basically told me to go away. Went down to about 6 rows off the field and asked a pair of Japanese guys if the seats inside their row were free, they were like "Yeah, no problem, you can sit here with us."

Go figure.

Did my rounds of the concourses, got food, got a 300-yen plain clear raincoat (I don't know how you get the free Baystars garbage bag ponchos and the Baystars raincoats were 1800 yen), and did pinbadges, wherein I got a second Miura, and also got a Nonaka and a Yoshimura. Yay!

One of the ouendan guys caught a baseball thrown into the stands at the start of the game (the players always do that, but it usually goes further than the front row). He was immediately besieged by like 6 little kids asking for it.

That was probably the most exciting thing to happen in the first few innings of the game from our side, honestly. Kentaro Kuwahara started for Yokohama, and within 4 batters of the game it was already 3-0 Swallows. Lead-off Fukuchi walked, Shinya Miyamoto singled to short where Takehiro Ishikawa made a nice stop but had no time for the throw, and then Aoki grounded into what was a forceout at second instead of a 1-6-3 double play, and then Kazuhiro Hatakeyama hit a 3-run homer into the Swallows cheering section. Boom.

In the top of the 3rd, they added another run to that when Fukuchi singled and made it to third on a sac bunt and a groundout, so Hatakeyama could single him in to make it 4-0.

Ryoji Aikawa was the first Baystars batter to get a hit off Swallows starter Masanori Ishikawa -- and his hit was a homerun into the first few seats of the outfield in left field. It was so far out that I was fairly sure it was foul and was hugely confused as to why everyone was cheering at first. 4-1.

Shuuchi Murata got the next hit off of Ishikawa in the 4th, ALSO hit a solo homerun, this one a monster shot to right-center. 4-2.

Then, uhh...

Kazuya Takamiya, whose main redeeming feature seems to be that he throws baseballs with his left hand, took the mound in the top of the 5th inning, and it was just a disaster. Miyamoto doubled, Aoki singled, Hatakeyama singled, and Yasushi Iihara grounded into another failed double play, just a forceout. Hiroyasu Tanaka grounded to third and Murata threw home, and Aoki was safe and scored, by then making it 6-2. Keizo Kawashima walked, loading the bases, and then it started to rain. I mean, literally, water started falling from the sky, although you could say they were already in the midst of a when-it-rains-it-pours kind of inning. By the time Takamiya got yanked from the game, the Swallows had batted around their order and scored 6 runs, making it 10-2.

Hiroki Sanada came in for one batter and put him away to end the inning.

I have no clue why, but Futoshi Kobayashi came in to pitch the 6th for the Baystars. He gave up another two runs that inning, and by then I had given up on keeping score because it was raining too hard for me to have the book out in any reasonable capacity. 12-2.

Masanori Ishikawa gave up his third hit of the game in the bottom of the 6th, and just like the other two hits, this one was ALSO a solo home run. UNLIKE the other two, this one landed RIGHT near where I was sitting, two rows up and four seats over. Also unlike the other ones, this one was by Takehiro Ishikawa, and it turned out to be his FIRST CAREER HOME RUN! Wow! A bit later a few ushers came up to the guy who had caught the home run ball and asked him for it, which I thought was pretty weird since you're usually allowed to keep home run balls. Well, as it turned out, Ishikawa-player wanted his first home run ball. So, the fan gave up the home run ball and got a signed ball from Ishikawa in return. Pretty cool, huh? 12-3.

Kazuki Fukuchi led off the Swallows' Lucky 7 with a home run that barely cleared the wall in left, and infact bounced back onto the field. By this point so many of us on the Baystars side were holding up umbrellas in the rain and were fed up with the game, so we sang along with the Tokyo Ondo song and the Swallows fans... kind of... in that we were all singing "Kutabare Yomiuri" ("go to hell, Giants") and waving our umbrellas around. 13-3.

I started taking videos of stuff because I wanted to get a decent "rain video" like I had a few months ago of a rainy Murata cheer. After a few failed attempts, I got a decent shot of Yuuki Yoshimura's cheer song in the rain, and wouldn't you know it, in the midst of me filming, he HIT A HOME RUN 125 meters into centerfield. So instead, I got a video of his cheer song, AND of the home run fanfare, and of everyone singing the Yokohama Baystars run-celebrating theme and doing a banzai. 13-4. You might note that this was the fourth hit off of Masanori Ishikawa and also the fourth solo homerun.

Yoshimura cheer song and homerun!

Ishikawa pitched 7 innings, gave up 4 hits, 4 home runs, thus 4 runs, and struck out 4. When it rains, it fours?

Shigetoshi Yamakita came in to pitch for Yokohama then, and gave up another run in the 8th inning, bringing the score to 14-4. Sheesh.

It was still raining, and we spent the ENTIRETY of the 8th inning singing the "Behind" chance music. I had learned this a bit after the game on August 4th -- a game which the Baystars actually WON so there was no reason to sing it DURING the game. Since they were completely and totally losing this game, I guess it made more sense to sing it:

Baystars Chance Music 5 - "Behind"

Okay, so here is how this song goes. First there's some drumbeats and shouts:

(ドドドン)熱く! (ドドドン)熱く! (ドドドン)熱く!立ち上がれ!
Atsuku! Atsuku! Atsuku! Tachiagare!

("Heat up! Heat up! Everyone stand up!")

The first time, the trumpets play the song and you just say "Hey!" or "Oi!" at appropriate intervals. Then the shouts again, and then everyone sings the verse acapella:

Let's Go BAY 不器用で カッコ悪くても 選手を信じ声を枯らし
Let's go BAY bukiyou de, kakko warukutemo, senshu wo shinji koe wo karashi
Let's Go BAY 変えてゆく 俺たちが変える 想いよ届け君のもとへ
Let's go BAY kaeteyuku, oretachi ga kaeru, omoiyo todoke kimi no moto he

("Let's go BAY though we're clumsy and uncool, we believe in you players and raise our voices,
Let's go BAY let's change this game, all of us can change too, we hope our thoughts reach you.")

Or something to that effect.
I was surprised that they literally just sang it for the whole inning. Guess there's nothing better to do in the rain. And it's not like much happened. Kazuya Fujita singled, was replaced in a fielder's choice by Hiroaki Ohnishi, and he was left on second. Yay.

Yamakita gave up another 3 runs in the top of the 9th, including a 2-run homer to Yasushi Iihara that LITERALLY banged up against the foul pole in right field near us and bounced back onto the field. 17-4.

In the bottom of the 9th, with Masato Hanada still on the mound for the Swallows, Seiichi Uchikawa led off with a nice clean single... and got himself thrown out trying to stretch it into a double. Oops. Shingo Nonaka followed that up with another single, and though Yoshimura hit a high pop fly foul to the left of first base, the next batter was a pinch-hitting Takanori Suzuki, who almost hit another home run, but instead the ball bounced off the centerfield wall a meter or so short of clearing it. Aoki played it on a weird bounce and Takanori ended up with a triple, scoring Nonaka. 17-5... and naturally that is where the game would end, as Kinjoh grounded out to second.

I mentioned that the guys who let me have a free seat in their row were really nice, right? Well, after the game as we were all packing up and lamenting what a completely retarded blowout it was, the one sitting further away that I hadn't talked to before said "I know you! I've seen you here before, you were writing a scorecard but in a little notebook instead?" and I was like "Yeah, I forgot my scorecard book that day..." He said that it was really strange and memorable to see a foreign girl, left-handed, alone, cheering, and keeping a scorecard, so he remembered me. When the guys found out that my name is Deanna -- which sounds like "diana" -- which is the Yokohama Baystars cheer girl team -- well, they flipped out. I gave the one guy my fake meishi card so he could see the spelling, and he was like "I'll email you! Then next time I can cheer with Deanna!"

I realized two things after that:

1) I really need to film the "Go! Go! Diana!" opening sequence (Westbay has made the exact same comment, "Go go Deanna!")
2) I should actually be taking more advantage of the fact that I have the same name as the cheer girl squad. I've been a little shy about telling people my name at Baystars games because I figure either they won't believe me or I can't explain the difference in spelling and all. But, that's pretty stupid. So, Cheer Girl Deanna! That's me!

I figure that at least in terms of cheering, this year it's pretty much all been about the Fighters and Baystars for me, so this is a reasonable conclusion.

After the game I did more pinbadges outside the Baystars store since I opted to go for the north entrance to Kannai station. I got another Yoshimura, and an Ohnishi and a Katoh. I couldn't find anyone to trade with though. I wonder if there's some good time/place to see if there's anyone out there who would give me a Takuro for a Miura AND a Yoshimura... Fan Fest? Who knows.

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