In all honesty, I don't have a lot to say about this game. And I only have ten minutes or so to say it anyway, so here goes, in points:
- If you have a jiyuu passport for the Series, you will have to change it in for an actual passport card, at one of the ticket selling booths, NOT at the entrance. So go do that first.
- Security is heightened. You will be scanned by a metal detector upon entering. Leave extra time to wait in long lines, or show up early if you really want to get good seats in jiyuuseki (the unreserved seats).
- Speaking of jiyuuseki, apparently they are not opening the upper decks except MAYBE for the final game? Tonight I was basically told "it's not going to be crowded enough to make us open the second floor." I think the ticketing scheme which involved the second floor as unreserved seats for Japan games also assumed there would be a popular enough Japanese team to fill those seats (ie, Giants).
- The Lions are not playing a lot of their normal top-line guys. Tonight's game basically had Kuriyama, Okawari-kun, and maybe Gotoh, of their usual lineup... it was Akada, Kuriyama, Hirao, Nakamura, Gotoh, Tomoaki Satoh, Ishii, Ginjiro, and Mizuta. Yeah. We were all like "who the hell is Mizuta?" but he actually had some huge cheering fans near where we were sitting anyway. I kinda wondered what happened to Haruki Kurose, but whatever.
- Okawari-kun Nakamura struck out three times and walked once. Sheesh.
- Kwang-Hyun Kim started for the SK Wyverns. He's that kid who not only beat the Dragons last year at the age of 19 (now he's 20!) but also kicked butt in the Olympics and was his league's MVP this year and so on. I don't think he actually got the victory tonight though because he only went 4.2 innings.
- Kazuyuki Hoashi started for the Lions. He wasn't bad but he gave up two identical homeruns that pretty much went right to the left-field corner, which accounted for 3 of the 4 runs the Wyverns scored. The second one hit the foul pole and the first, I actually lost it in the lights so I'm not sure what happened, Nabe-Q argued it for a bit but it stood.
- There were a lot of strikeouts by both sides.
- We realized there has never been an Asia Series without a Lions team. 2005 and 2006 had Samsung, last year had Uni-President, and this year has three of them. The Four-Lions Series dream is still alive, of course.
- There were NOT a lot of people there. Official attendance appears to be 9277. I wonder if it'll be any better over the weekend -- maybe Sunday's final game, but who knows. This was a Thursday night, but usually Korea draws a bigger crowd than most others.
- Oh, and the Lions fans still did a lot of their usual antics. I joined in singing and stuff actually, but not in running back and forth in the stands. Maybe tomorrow :)
Honestly, the upshot is -- I think if the Lions had their top guys out there, they would have handily defeated the Wyverns, actually. But they were basically playing their farm team, and that's gotta hurt. I have to wonder whether they will actually manage to win this series or not -- tomorrow's game against the Uni-President-7-11-whatever-the-heck Lions will pretty much decide their fate, I think. If Japan doesn't make it to the final game, that'll be... bizarre, to say the least.
I'm going to try to make it to both games tomorrow. Shame I overslept this afternoon's game, actually, because apparently China's Lions ALMOST defeated Taiwan's Lions -- it was apparently 4-3 in the bottom of the 9th with two outs and then Taiwan hit a sayonara grand slam to make it 7-4. Man.