Nikkan Sports reported today that the Fighters ouendan have been officially asked not to sing the Jason Botts 'Ponyo' song, even using the "hits a big big homerun" ending.
Despite that I'm probably just being paranoid, I feel like I may be partially responsible for this, since I happened to be at the game where they invented it, and I blogged about it and put videos on Youtube of the song explaining the lyrics in English. I felt pretty bad about it, but at the same time, it was just such surreal, silly, unexpected behaviour from the fan group -- like Phillies fans booing Mike Schmidt when I was a kid.
At the time, Botts was batting .120 and was swinging big and not hitting big. The fans were frustrated, and I'm sure Jason was frustrated too.
However, that was the low point, and around then was when Botts started really adjusting to Japan, it seemed. A few days later, after being benched for the week, Botts made a start in Osaka on August 15, and for the remaining month and a half of the season he put up a BIG BIG line of .379/.467/.632, with 4 homers and 8 doubles; I got to see when he and Ryan Glynn were the game heroes at the Fighters' "home game" in the Tokyo Dome on August 19, even.
In the postseason he continued to hit well, if streaky, going .400/.470/.866 in 5 games, including a shot in the Osaka Dome that never actually landed, but hit the right-field stands while still rising.
So in that sense, you could say that the Ponyo ouenka actually sparked his ascent!
I guess the problem is that too many people saw the batting average in the low 200's and didn't realize how much he'd really been bashing in the last couple of weeks. I was certainly one of those people guilty of it as well.
So, if Jason wants to put the Ponyo theme, and the first month of his career in Japan behind him, and continue beating the tar out of the ball next year, I will be more than happy to not only never ever sing the Ponyo song again, but to yell at anyone in the stands who does. And if I caused any problems in this entire thing, I'm sorry. I tend to write about everything I see, whether it's good, bad, funny, or all of the above. GO FIGHTERS!
I suppose this might be a good time to mention that Ryan Glynn signed with the Baystars, which is a good move on both parts; I think he can improve Yokohama and I think having some big bats like the Mura Monsters supporting him will help him, as long as he can keep the ball in the park. I wish he'd be able to stay with the Fighters, of course, but they're always looking at things like OMG 14 LOSSES instead of OMG 17 QUALITY STARTS (thanks to Michael Westbay).
The foreign players on the Fighters roster for next year will be Brian Sweeney, Ryan Wing, Jason Botts, and Terrmel Sledge (signed a 2-year contract last year). I don't think they have any plans to add anyone else, though who knows. The team did hire Al Hargesheimer to be a foreign scout, which indicates they expect to want to add another foreign player mid-season like they have the last few years. We'll see.
In the wake of The Nioka Trade, it does appear that Hisashi Takeda is poised to become the World's Smallest Closer (he's seriously the same height/weight as me) in the wake of Micheal Nakamura leaving (which, by the way, still sucks). Hisashi actually successfully used an agent to get a higher salary, which is fairly uncommon in Japan.
All of the Fighters draftees actually signed this year, finishing with Shota Ono, after he got back from some big tournament in Taiwan (which is why he had to miss the original New Face party). If you are in the Kanto area and want to see the new kids, they'll be working out at Fighters Stadium Kamagaya most days in January, and there's actually a meet the new guys welcome ceremony on January 18th. I'd go if I was in Japan, but I'm not going to be back in the country until Feb 4th. Have no fear, Kamagaya Ojisan will certainly have photos up of the new kids (he already has some of 3rd-round pick Toshiyuki Yanuki warming up; I already foresee Ono and Yanuki being my Kamagaya stalkees next year, so that's cool with me)
So anyway, I'm looking forward to blogging the Fighters again this year, and I'm especially looking forward to seeing how our lineup shakes down. I'm kind of seeing it as:
DH Botts (Which was the whole point of this post! :)
but there are a lot of things that could change that, especially what happens with Sho Nakata, OR with Shota Ono, OR with Tsuruoka. Plus I keep thinking Suguru Ichikawa can't go on bashing the heck out of the Eastern League forever.
Either way, things look bright!
...we're gonna finish fifth.
I say that every year, and we keep making it to the playoffs, so why stop?