Monday, March 16, 2009

Game Report: Preseason Marines @ Baystars -- Early Onset Ippatsu-Byou Epidemic (photopost)

If Wednesday's game was any indication of how the Baystars are going to be in the 2009 season, then we're in for a loooooooooooong season in Yokohama.

This was my first open-sen (preseason) game of the year. Just like my first open-sen game last year, I had friends visiting from the US; this time it was Mike and Shannon from Texas. They'd never been to a Japanese baseball game before, and this one was sure to be memorable; the first order of business of the day was finding the kankeisha ticket place, since Bobby himself was kind enough to leave us tickets. Let it never, ever, ever be said that the Chiba Lotte Marines don't take good care of me. I really don't deserve it, considering I still refuse at heart to be anything but a die-hard Fighters fan.

Then I saw the Baystars macsot Hosshey beating up the TBS mascot and I was like "I've never gotten my picture with Hosshey, let's go swarm him!" so we did.

So even before we got into the stadium, it was already a pretty exciting day.

Once we got into the stadium, I yelled hi and thanks to Bobby, who waved back... and then a second later I heard "Deanna!" from a bit further down in the stands, and it was my friend Max and his girlfriend. I ended up talking to them for a while about random stuff, standing by the net, and taking photos of random Marines players on the field during BP. This was good, because it gave Mike and Shannon a chance to go wandering around the stadium on their own without me babbling the whole time.

I staked out a bunch of seats fairly close to the field, though most of the prime ones were already taken by the time we got there. During the pre-game picture-club thing, I waved around my Marines towel as a joke, and wouldn't you know it, the announcer says "...and there's a bunch of gaijin Marines fans? Let's take their picture! 3, 2, 1... cheeezu!" We were so stunned we forgot to actually take a photo of it. Oops. I think that marks the first time I've been on the big screen in Yokohama, though.

Oh, yeah, there was a baseball game, too. Kimiyasu Kudoh (the almost-46-year-old lefty, basically Japan's Jamie Moyer) started for Yokohama, and pitched two great innings, one reasonable inning, and then one OMG GET HIM OFF THE MOUND inning which culminated in an Imae 2-run homer that went straight into the Lotte cheering section; Kudoh would leave the mound being tagged with 5 runs and the loss.

In the meantime, Naoyuki Shimizu started for Lotte and put up 5 fairly strong innings, although when pitching against the Baystars, almost anything might qualify as strong. Still, no runs and only three hits isn't too shabby. On the other hand, a lot of Yokohama's better hitters (Murata, Uchikawa, Yoshimura) weren't in the lineup, for various reasons.

Tom Mastny, the first-ever major leaguer to be born in Indonesia (long story, see Wikipedia), took the mound for two innings for the Baystars. He's very tall. He did okay, except he got victimized both by a stolen base and a balk in the 6th inning that led to a run being scored off him, bringing the score to 6-0.

Yasuhiro Oyamada's Unlucky 7 was certainly the Marines' Lucky 7, as both Naotaka Takehara AND Ken Shinzato hit home runs off of him that inning. Ippatsu-byou indeed. I've seen Shinzato hit some good stuff at ni-gun, but it's unclear whether or when he'll ever break into the top team, so good for him... or bad for Oyamada?

After failing to put a dent in Shimizu, Takagi, and Tomohisa Nemoto, the Baystars were greeted by an old friend on the mound for their half of the 7th, with the score at 9-0. Satoru "Komi-chan" Komiyama walked Kinjoh, who wears #1. Two batters later, Shigeru Morikasa (wearing #00) hit a single, moving Kinjoh to second, and though Komi-chan was switched out for Taiki Nakagoh on the mound, Noriharu Yamazaki (one of the new kids, wearing #0) singled to score Kinjoh. Exciting. But it was the only run the Baystars would manage at all in a complete landslide of a game where the Marines won 9-1.

It was pretty interesting seeing Iguchi and Nishioka out there as the middle infield -- despite that Nishioka can be pretty cocky, he seemed downright deferential to Iguchi, which was a nice change.

I was somewhat shocked that Saeki got the start at first base for Yokohama. Don't get me wrong, I totally adore Saeki as a person, he totally cracks me up, BUT he's 39 years old and throws like a girl. I really think the Baystars could have put the playing time to much better use with someone else out there, like Dan Johnson or Yuta Naitoh. I guess the only saving grace was that they didn't try to put Saeki in left field.

Also, it killed me to see Toshihiro Noguchi wearing #5 for Yokohama. Seriously. I don't know what the heck Takuro Ishii did to piss off the Yokohama front office, but it's seriously uncool to be giving out his uniform number so soon, IMO.

I had a lot of fun pointing out the various fan antics to Mike and Shannon. Every now and then I'd say, "They're going to start bouncing out there in left field, look!" and they'd look at the Chiba cheering section, and sure enough, everyone would start jumping up and down. "And when they play this song, everyone is supposed to get out their flags and wave them around..." and everyone got out their flags and waved them around. Then, just for good measure, I'd sing along to the Baystars cheer songs that I knew as well, although that turned into a lot of "This is the theme for lefty batters that have no theme of their own... this one is for righties... I've heard this is the new catcher's cheer theme. Oh, and this must be the new one for Matsumoto that I don't know yet. Hmm."

Though, as it was only a preseason game on a Wednesday afternoon, it wasn't quite as crazy as a full-fledged normal-season game. But I think it gave them a nice taste of the Japanese baseball experience.

After the game, we went touring around Sakuragicho and Minatomirai, which is part of why it took me forever to post about this game; first I spent a while being a tourguide, and then I spent a few days being sick, which sucked. Funny part is, the three of us were walking around Yokohama's waterfront after the game, and it appears that so were Bobby and his staff! It would have been pretty weird to run into them there, though from the photos it seems we were a bit further down, closer to the ferris wheel.

(I did get to say hi to Frank and Paul a little bit after the game while the team was doing post-game stretching, so that was nice. I hope I can see them more down in Chiba sometime. It might depend on whether the Marines Mind Control Task Force stops being a gimp soon.)

And here are some of my photos from the day. I'm not sure why it takes me so long to go through these photosets these days, but it does. Still, it was a gorgeous sunny day out in Yokohama and I snapped around 400 photos total...

Bobby-manager, waving to fans as usual.

Wow, it's weird seeing Ryan Glynn not in a Fighters uniform.

Saburo seems to have decided that facial hair is cool. I'm not sure I agree.

Jamie Moyer Kimiyasu Kudoh, getting into shape for another season.

Keijiro Matsumoto, Waseda's finest, and perhaps the new leadoff batter for the Baystars, doing his best Yoshinobu Takahashi imitation.

Marines starter Naoyuki Shimizu.

Benny Agbayani and Toshihisa Nishi share a laugh at second base as Old Man Kudoh takes a timeout and requests a cup of water from the umpires.

Shigeru Morikasa, who is just tuning in from the Hiroshima Carp. Poor guy.

Hosoyamada: "Um, I have this idea, see..."
Kudoh: "Kid, I'm twice your age. OVER twice your age. I don't need your advice."
Hosoyamada: "But sir, if you don't throw strikes..."
Kudoh: "I'm THROWING strikes! They just happen to be HITTING them! Now go away."
Hosoyamada: "Sir..."

Takeshi Hosoyamada, Waseda's other finest, and also posessing a bizarre stance. What is this, the "Weirdest Stance Since Taneda" competition?

Hosoyamada again, after watching Imae hit a home run.

Toshiaki Imae bows to the left-field stands after his home run.

Tom Mastny is quite tall.

He also has a high leg kick,

and a funky followthrough.

Another new American player on the Baystars, Dan Johnson. Hard to believe I was just watching him in Oakland two years ago.

Hayasaka and Ishikawa trash-talk over at third base.

Hisao Heiuchi. I have a ton of respect for this guy, but he's probably never going to be a regular, sadly.

Tomohisa "the other" Nemoto.

Yasuhiro Oyamada, who gave up TWO home runs to the Marines in one inning. Whoosh.

Naotaka Takehara on his way around the bases during his home run.

High-fives in the Marines dugout following Ken Shinzato's two-run homer.

It's Komi-chan!

Taiki Nakagoh. I feel like I have never seen him pitch before, even at ni-gun, though he's been around with Lotte for two years now. Weird.

Shoitsu Ohmatsu, smiling out in left field! I have high hopes for him this year.

Yusuke Kawasaki, the lefty setup man. He seems to have grown his hair out quite a bit over the winter.

Shun Yamaguchi.

Tadahiro Ogino, inspiring the next inning. Or not.

Game over, the Marines celebrate their victory over the Kansas City Royals Yokohama Baystars.


As a postscript, I went to a minor-league preseason Fighters vs. Marines game on Sunday, and saw Komiyama and Takagi and Nakagoh pitching there too, and Komi-chan looked downright terrible. I feel kind of bad for him; wonder if he's getting near the end of the line or just taking a long time to warm up, kind of like Kudoh. Will Kudoh be able to start games this year, or maybe just come in for an inning or two of mop-up every now and then? Time will tell. But he turns 46 on May 5th. And for the record, I really did look it up and Takeshi Hosoyamada turns 23 on April 29th, so he really IS less than half Kudoh's age. Crazy.

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