Monday, August 18, 2008

Rainy Days in Chiba

Well, I went down to Chiba to watch the game on Sunday, only it was raining. Not hard rain, but still, rain that didn't seem to be stopping.

Despite that, guys were out on the field taking batting practice. So I snuck into the Rakuten dugout. First thing I did was just talk to Jose Fernandez for a few minutes. I asked him about all the rain and he explained that the Chiba turf was a bit different than Rakuten's -- apparently Rakuten keeps replacing theirs, and Chiba's is a bit older, so it takes the rain a little differently. I asked him if he thought there was a logjam at DH/1B with Seguignol in the mix, and he said that it should be okay since he (Jose) could also play third base, so Yamasaki and Seggy could split time at first base, maybe. Sometimes teams sacrifice a little defense for more offense. He said that the team still considers themselves to be in the race, since the Pacific League is so close.

After Jose went off to take BP, I found Fernando Seguignol! As a long-term Fighters fan I have of course also been a big Seguignol fan, so I wanted to welcome him back to Japan. He was REALLY nice and friendly -- and he's really happy to be back in Japan! He loves it here.

I talked to Seguignol for about half an hour after he took BP, seriously. I just asked questions and despite still being jet-lagged, he was very candid and just talked about all kinds of stuff. Seriously. It was great to get his story on a lot of things (including his release from the Fighters -- his knees were fine, the team made that up). I'll write it up in a day or two.

As for the rest of the time, I took some pictures during BP, then a bit in the pre-game, said hi to the coaches, and... it was still raining, but they started the game. Hiroyuki Kobayashi started for Chiba, and Hisashi Kitani was starting for Rakuten.

However, it was just raining too much, and they called a rain delay after ONE INNING! The Eagles had gotten two base-runners but no runs, the Marines had one walk (leadoff Nemoto) and no runs.

I was sitting with the Murata family for this game again, and we were trying not to get wet sitting in the wing seats. After the delay we moved up to Bar Magic, and about 20 minutes later the game got officially cancelled.

Then there was a big head-sliding party on the wet field. Kenji Morozumi led off the festivities. Eh, I'll just let the pictures from the day tell the story.

Media people stay dry from the rain by holding court with Katsuya Nomura.

Seguignol taking some tee swings.

Jose Fernandez works out at third base with Daisuke Kusano and another guy I couldn't identify.

Jose Fernandez again.

Naoto Watanabe swings an... axe?

The Marines did a kind of shadow lineup of the Lotte Orions along with the current lineup. I saw this one of Yoshio Mizukami as the shortstop batting 9th and I'm like.. HEY THAT'S THE FIGHTERS NI-GUN MANAGER! Crazy.

Stadium staff takes off the tarp covering the field. The person pictured on the big screen, by the way, is Choji Murata.

I got a picture taken with coach Frank Ramppen modelling the Lotte throwback uniform.

Okay, this is the announcement for the wet tarp headsliding contest. They were trying to get Kenji Morozumi to come out of the dugout and do it and he was making a big show of how he was NOT GOING TO DO IT, but eventually they forced him out onto the field.

Morozumi-coach starts off at home plate and hits a mock single, amidst the ouendan even playing his cheer song and yelling "Kattobase Morozumi!"

He goes sliding headfirst into first base, causing a HUGE SPLASH. After that he pretended to take a lead off the base and dived back into the base, causing a BIGGER SPLASH.

Morozumi steals second, which results in another big splash and he goes sliding across the tarp into the outfield.

Morozumi runs home from second, rounds third, and does another huge splash into home plate.

The press can't get nearly enough of a totally soaked Morozumi lying motionless on the field.

Marines mascot Cool tries it too, but isn't quite as entertaining.

And then many other people go ahead and also play the sliding game, on some smaller tarps behind home plate.

It wasn't a waste of a day -- I was overjoyed to talk to Seguignol, really, and if I see Morozumi again I will have to try to figure out how to say "Sliding Master" in Japanese to tell him how awesome I thought his performance was :)

I'm heading back down today for Shunsuke Day today. No rain in the forecast, so it should be a lot better.

Also dear god this Koshien match is a landslide. I guess we all knew Toin was going to steamroll their way through everyone in their path, but still.

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