Friday was a very surreal day for me. Let's just say that at 5pm I was in the health room at the junior high school I work at, after throwing up most of whatever the hell I ate for lunch. See, one of the benefits of working in a school in Japan is that you can opt to eat school lunch, which is a wide variety of Japanese food, some of which is good, some of which is bad, and some of which is completely unidentifiable. Friday's lunch fell in the latter category, though I was later told it was some kind of fried squid.
And at 5:30pm I was drinking cola and sitting on a train heading towards the Tokyo Dome, feeling still a little dizzy but kind of okay.
At 6:15pm or so I finally got to my seat in the outfield, just in time to see Michihiro "Clean-shaven Doppleganger" Ogasawara hit a 3-run homerun for the Giants and put them up 3-0.
I was sitting right smack dab in what would normally be the Chunichi ouendan, if they actually HAD an ouendan. The guy sitting next to me turned out to be a stealth ouendan leader and had even attached a trumpet mouthpiece to a kazoo to play music for some of the chance themes, which was really awesome, so I asked him what was going on, and he basically said that in Nagoya, Hiroshima, and Osaka, the ouendan have regathered and applied for official status at the stadiums, which is why I was hearing trumpets and drums on TV, but in Kanto they apparently have not gotten their act together, which is why at the Tokyo Dome it was a lot of semi-organized shouting and clapping.
This guy was sitting three rows ahead of us:
And at first I thought he was just a crazy fan, but it turned out he was one of the actual leaders, so he was getting signals from some people above us and then leading chants. The police came over to talk to him several times, probably to say "You know you're not an official ouendan, so don't cheer against the Giants TOO loudly, okay?"
The only thing that really seemed to be in sync well was the Ibata fanfare...
As for the game, Daisuke Yamai started for Chunichi and didn't even make it to having an at-bat of his own, as Kei Nomoto pinch-hit for him in the second inning. Seth Greisinger started for the Giants and was in for 6 innings, and got the win.
Seung-Yeop Lee also hit a 2-run homerun and the Giants were up 5-0, but at least Henry Blanco hit a homerun to put the Dragons on the board at 5-1. Blanco's homerun was measured as being 150 meters -- almost 500 feet. It hit the advertisements next to the scoreboard in center field, and would have gone straight out of several stadiums in Japan.
But one big homerun does not an offense make, and the Giants runs kept piling up whereas the only Dragons player willing to actually bat anything in was, of all people... Keiji Oyama. The catcher. The catcher who I saw at a ton of Fighters ni-gun games last year. He got released by the Fighters at the end of last season and picked up by the Dragons, and he hasn't really done much of anything this year... but I guess because I showed up he chose to reach base 4 out of 4 plate appearances, although 2 were hits, one was a walk and one was on an error. And he had 3 RBIs. Crazy.
We yelled and screamed all of the traditional Dragons-at-the-Tokyo-Dome cheers such as adding "Yomiuri taose wo" after every batter, and a new one I hadn't heard before of doing an "outo!" cheer after each Giants out, along with "kutabare yomiuri -- outo!". But it didn't really help, and the Dragons lost 10-4 to the Giants.
I was particularly heartbroken because Morino went further into his slump and still didn't get a hit. I came to the game wearing a Tatsunami t-shirt and my Morino jersey over it, with my Morino towel and pin and all, and though he traditionally does well when I see him, I guess Oyama stole the magic instead.
Oh, and there was no Tatsunami appearance, either, which was also sad. He just got a walkoff hit in Thursday's game, which was really great for him -- he was game hero and looked so happy I can't even begin to describe it.
Also, this game was apparently Hayato Sakamoto Cheering Day, and they gave out Sakamoto player cards at the gate. I can't decide whether to keep mine or sell it.
Before the game, by the way, Tom Hanks threw out the ceremonial first pitch. I was still on the train to the stadium at that point, thanks to getting sick at school, but they showed him and Ron Howard and some other guy on the screen in the middle of the game:
He's in Japan promoting his new movie Angels and Demons.
A friend of mine forwarded me the following article: Tom Hanks throws out first pitch at game in Tokyo, from Yahoo.
Here's an interesting quote from the article...
"I've been reading about the Tokyo Dome ever since I was a little kid," Hanks said. "Home of the Yomiuri Giants and the team of Sadaharu Oh for crying out loud. There is a lot of baseball history out there."
Slight problem here, Tom -- the Tokyo Dome was built in 1988. You were 32 at that point, hardly a little kid. Now, I realize the movie "Big" came out in 1988, and your role was to play a kid and all, but that can't POSSIBLY be what you meant...