Sunday, May 03, 2009

War Escalates Between Chiba Front Office And Rightfield Stands (Orix @ Lotte, April 29)

I've said it many times, but if there's one thing that can be counted on to be true among Chiba Lotte Marines fans, it's that they are 1) completely insane and 2) totally dedicated to their cause.

After Wednesday's game (and others as far as I know, but I was only there Wednesday), a new set of banners were being carried around in right field as a response to the front office referring to the bleacher fans as "useless 1000-yen fans" and so on...

(Click on the banner to see larger resolution)

We fans demand an apology and explanation FROM THE FRONT OFFICE THEMSELVES for all of the insults and confusion caused

The front office says we're useless fans, but we want to fight with Bobby who says we're the best in the world

Keep the team in Chiba and make the CLUELESS FRONT OFFICE go away!

That said, Wednesday was kind of the first day of Golden Week for a lot of people, the national holiday called "Showa Day". Unfortunately, Lotte didn't have much to show for it until the very last inning, but that's another story.

Before the game, I caught up with Jason Coskrey from the Japan Times, and watched him interview Tuffy Rhodes. You can read his article here. I just asked Tuffy whether he really needs his interpreter, since I saw him on Sunday doing his hero interview pretty much in Japanese, and he said that no, he doesn't need the interpreter, he's been here 14 years or so now, but it's kind of protocol and he'd be setting a bad example for other guys if he didn't go out there with an interpreter. He also said he loves doing hero interviews, except he usually has a crappy game the next day... but since it was Sunday, no big deal! Tuffy was a really nice guy, and I'm glad I got the chance to talk to him even for just a minute.

We also chatted with Jose Fernandez and Ryan Vogelsong a bit. Ryan was telling us horror stories of when he was being shuffled between the minors and majors back in 2003 and had the same kind of facial nerve problem that Colby Lewis has now, and it definitely doesn't sound like fun at all.

What can I say about the game? Well, the Marines starter was my boyfriend Shunsuke Watanabe...

and he was plagued by some pretty bad luck and slightly slow fielding, as a LOT of balls fell for doubles in left and right field, usually seemingly just out of reach of Burnham or Ohmatsu. I kind of feel like both of those guys are in the game more for their bats than their defense anyway, although poor Ohmatsu's been having a really slow start even at the plate.

The Orix starter was this guy...

...and I don't know if it's that manager Daijiro Ohishi just doesn't trust his bullpen or was giving them a rest or what, but Chihiro Kaneko seriously almost went the entire game, until the bottom of the 9th when his 135th pitch was slammed over the right-field wall by Gary Burnham for a 3-run homer. Yeah, he had a shutout going until that point, but I thought it looked like he had nothing left by that point.

Shunsuke managed to keep Tuffy under control...

...but ended up giving up his tradition 7th-inning home runs to both this guy...

Keiji Ohbiki, who also hit a home run on Tuesday night in Chiba, and

Greg LaRocca, who was having a pretty decent day.

Despite a 9th inning attempt at a comeback, the Marines lost the game 5-3. I guess Chihiro Kaneko seems to be alternating between having great games and awful games, and the Marines just came out on the wrong side of the seesaw.

I'm trying to keep this short, so I'll just throw in a few other photos I took (of Marines players to balance it out), and call it a wrap:

Kazuya Fukuura, first base

Frank Ramppen, batting coach

Shunichi Nemoto and his wacky balance

Chase Lambin at third base.

I'm heading down to Chiba again for the Fighters on the 4th and 5th, assuming it doesn't rain. Whee! I wonder what the crazy fans will do for Golden Week...

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