Friday, March 27, 2009

Game Report: Fighters Week Day 6 @ Yokohama - The Epic Battle of Brian vs. Ryan

I skipped Fighters Week Day 5 by accident; it was at Jingu on Friday afternoon and the weather forecast was rainy, and at 11am in Kita-ku it even WAS rainy, but at 1pm it was beautiful and sunny and I guess that's what I get for not going down to the stadium to watch baseball, as the Fighters managed to win it 1-0 in a dramatic 9th-inning come-ahead, and I missed seeing my favorite Yakult player Ryuji Miyade in a Yakult uniform before he got traded to Rakuten on Monday. Sigh.

Anyway, Fighters Week Day 6 was down in Yokohama, and I got there at about 12:30pm for a 1pm game, and my friend Sakamoto had saved a seat for me right next to the ouendan, so that was guaranteed to be fun. And then he was like "Guess who the starting pitchers are? We have Brian Sweeney," to which I said "Yay! Sweeney!" and he continued, "And the Baystars have Ryan Glynn," to which I said "WHAT? You're joking, right?"

But no, the Baystars really did start Ryan Glynn against his former teammates, which led the ouendan to go down and start the cheering by saying, "We hate to have to root against our former pitcher Glynn, but well, it can't be helped... so go Itoi! Hit him hard!! Hit a home run!!!" and we'd cheer. Same thing for Imanami. Same thing for Shinji Takahashi... who, believe it or not, DID hit a home run, right into the left-field stands. Very exciting.

The Baystars suck. I feel bad for them. Unfortunately, them sucking kind of made for a rather boring game, so I spent a while trying to take some movies of the new Fighters ouenka so I can study them, instead.

Here is the song for Luis Jimenez. It turns out that this one's actually been recycled for a few foreign players in the last decade or two -- it was originally Rick Schu's, then Jerry Brooks, and most recently D.T.Cromer. Apparently it's believed that this song has a "2nd-year jinx", so let's see if Luis sticks around and overcomes it :)

打ちのめせ 打ちのめせ 勝利を勝ち取れ
Hyaku-man bariki no POWER ga koko de sakeretsu
Uchinomese, uchinomese, shouri wo kachitore

I'm going to loosely translate this one to say: "With one million horsepower, crush the ball here! Smash 'em, bash 'em, let's win the game!"

And well... the guy who started out as the Fighters' DH for the day, Tomohiro Nioka, who has pretty much sucked every time I've seen him play so far... well, he did go 1-for-3 that day. But still. I guess there's nothing we can do about the Micheal trade now, but I find it kind of ironic that the ouendan gave Nioka fairly unsingable ouenka -- I thought it was rather amusing when even some of my Japanese friends admitted that "I can't understand any of it except the 'Nioka Nioka Nioka' part at the end". I'm kind of determined to learn it nonetheless:

新たな舞台に 沸き立つ心 
逆風を切り裂け 立ち向かえ 二岡 二岡 二岡
arata na butai ni wakitatsu kokoro
gyakufuu wo kirisake tachimukae Nioka Nioka Nioka

(loosely: "In a new theater, with your burning heart, tear the opponents to pieces, Nioka Nioka Nioka!")

As an aside, I don't know if they're serious about recycling these for real, but they used Seigo Fujishima's old theme for Yoshihiro Satoh, and for Kazuya Murata they actually used Toshihiro Freaking Noguchi's old song. Sakamoto wrote down the lyrics to those for me since he said he thought they might actually use those again for those players sometime, though in the 9th inning the ouendan used Tatsuro Hirose's song for Yoh Chon-so and Shirai-coach's for Imanami, and I'm fairly sure those were just as a joke. (They occasionally just sing Hirose's ouenka for fun. He was quite popular back in the day.)

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Or maybe I'm not. I mean, seriously, nothing really happened in this game at all except that Shinji hit that home run in the first inning and Jason Botts pinch-hit a home run in the 8th inning as well. His was off Nasuno, which only makes it slightly less unlikely than the one off of Glynn. (Sorry, Ryan -- I wish you the best of luck, except when you play against the Fighters... but I still think that Yokohama Stadium's going to kill you...) So the final score was 2-0 Fighters over Baystars.

I guess rather than saying the Baystars suck, I should say that Brian Sweeney just pitched amazingly awesomely well and only allowed 4 baserunners in 7 innings, on 80 pitches or so. I'm really looking forward to seeing Sweeney pitch more this year!

One really funny moment for me was when Tsuboi went to play left field. My friend Ikuko was there, and she is the biggest Tsuboi fan ever (she seriously was a Hanshin fan and followed him to the Fighters). Unfortunately, she broke her leg over the winter, so is still somewhat unsteady on her feet. But when Tsuboi switched from right to left, she and her friend ran over to greet him... or should I say, her friend ran, and she totally hobbled, yelling "Tsuboi-saaaaaaaaaaaan!" He waved, and she nearly fell over. I felt very happy and very bad for her all at once.

The funniest moment, however, was sort of after the game. See, in the 8th inning the cops came over to the Fighters ouendan leaders and said, "After the game ends, assuming you win, you guys have TEN MINUTES for your post-game celebrations before you have to get out of the stadium. TEN MINUTES. Got it?"

The ouendan argued with the cop for a while, but it sounded like they weren't going to budge from the ten minute rule.

Sure enough, the Fighters won, and the ouendan tried to stretch out the postgame festivities as much as possible. We did the normal cheer songs for every player in the lineup, then extra ones for Shinji and Botts for their home runs, a "thanks and please play crappy against us next time too" (次を頼むぞ) for former Fighters Glynn and Yokoyama and Noguchi, the Fighters sanka song, another ganbare for Brian Sweeney, and then the crazy dude who was really pissed off about the time limit was like "HEY! AMERICA IS REALLY FAR AWAY BUT LET'S CHEER FOR OUR FIGHTERS WHO ARE IN THE WBC!!!" so we did a Ganbare Darvish and the Pitcher's Batting cheer song with a Kattobase Darvish in it... and then we did an Inaba Jump, right there in the stands in Yokohama. Twice, even! And then the guy was all ready to launch into an Ogasawara cheer or god knows what else, when the cops came by like "DUDE, WE TOLD YOU TEN MINUTES" and he's like "oh crap."

So we did one final "Let's win at Kamagaya tomorrow too" cheer and everyone went home :)

On my way out, I ran into a group of college guys that I always see in the stands (they're holding up the "S L E D G E" signcards in the entry about Thursday's game), and they joked, "We thought you were over on the Baystars side! They said their cheer girls were named Deanna!" and I tried to explain that "diana" and "Deanna" are different names, but mostly failed.

It really was a ridiculously fast game, though. I was home by 5pm, and Yokohama is over an hour away from here.

For me, though, unfortunately, this was my final Fighters game of the preseason. I ended up going to watch hockey on Sunday and Monday, and then Tuesday was the WBC finals instead of going to Chiba for the Fighters game there, and then Wednesday I went to Jingu, but the Fighters got rained out. Alas. I should hopefully be going to a minor-league game sometime in the next week, though.

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