1) The Pacific League postseason has been decided, with the Fighters squeaking into 3rd place after devouring the Eagles 17-0 with 28 hits. The way it was, Lotte had to win all 3 of their remaining games if the Fighters won... and well, I wasn't there for Shunsuke because I had to work, and so the Marines lost, with him giving up like 7 runs in the 2nd inning to Seibu. Ouch.
(The Fighters also announced today they are releasing several players, including catcher Komai who I had just met before the ni-gun game two weeks ago. Sad! None of the guys (Katoh, Nakamura, Kanazawa, Uchiyama, Oyama, Komai) are actually surprising, but this does mark the first time I'm seeing minor-leaguers get released that I actually really have watched a lot. Yakult's Mitsuru Manaka announced that he is going to retire, and I saw him play in that game 2 weeks ago as well!)
2) Kiyohara's real retirement game and ceremony happened at the Osaka Dome last night. Yahoo Sports has a video of the ceremony and highlights of the game. Kiyohara started as the DH and cleanup batter, and he DID manage to hit an RBI double in one of his at-bats, so at least that's good. Orix won the game 4-1 with Tuffy Rhodes getting a 2-run homer, his 40th of the year. Ichiro sat in a special box in the upper deck and watched the game, as did Masumi Kuwata.
The ceremony featured Tomoaki Kanemoto giving flowers to Kiyohara, both of them crying, and Kiyohara's favorite singer, Tsuyoshi Nagabuchi, actually came onto the field and sang "Tonbo", which Kiyohara was using as at-bat music for a while, and of course there was another doage. Kiyohara made a speech and walked around the stadium amidst streamers and applause. (photos -- Yahoo)
And, I cropped some of my photos from Monday night, so for lack of a real update, here you go:
Before/During the Game
High-socks pair Hiroyuki Oze and Makoto Moriyama, in BP. They would eventually end up batting in and scoring the winning run of the game.
Toru Freaking Hosokawa, who apparently is NOT dead after being judo-thrown by Benny a week ago.
Orix starter Mamoru Kishida. I defy Seibu security staff by trying to take a decent photo anyway.
Seibu starter Kazuhisa Ishii.
Orix fans do their Towel Chance Dance.
The Buffaloes win!
After the Game / Kiyohara Ceremony
Kiyohara walks out to the outfield and waves to the Lions fans there.
Kiyohara stood on home plate, dug into the batter's box, and then bowed to the field and the Lions players.
Seibu manager Watanabe gives flowers to Kiyohara.
Kiyohara goes flying into the air on the shoulders of former and current teammates.
After the doage breaks up and everyone follows Kiyohara back, many players from both teams exchange greetings. You can see Graman and Rhodes hugging here, Cabrera and Bocachica chatting, and even Hisanobu Watanabe hugging Buffaloes coach Hideaki Matsuyama. Here is some completely random trivia for you -- Matsuyama actually played on the same PL Gakuen team at Koshien with Kiyohara and Kuwata in 1985.
Hiroyuki Nakajima offers his #3 jersey to Kiyohara -- from the current #3 to the former.
Kiyohara bows again to the cameramen, sporting his new jersey. (Do you suppose Nakajima got to keep Kiyohara's jersey? That is a nice trade!)
Wearing the Lions #3, Kiyohara reclaims his flowers and waves to the fans, who are still clapping and cheering and taking photos.
Seibu players come out to line up for their own Final Game ceremony. I only thought this shot was funny because Kinney is directing people to move further down... and I can see Hitoshi Taneda, who I thought I'd never see again. Awwww.
What a week.
Now I just have to figure out how I will manage to get tickets to see the Fighters in Osaka!