You know, the only really annoying thing about sitting through a game for four and a half hours only to see the Marines lose, was that Shohei Tateyama didn't get the win. I was perfectly prepared to yell my lungs out with the Marines cheering section and see Tateyama win, believe it or not. Sometimes it's just better to go into these things expecting the worst and hoping for a weird twist of fate to bring you the best.
I went to this one with Steve, who writes the We Love Marines blog. Rather than being a leech, I actually went and bought a ticket for the outfield for a change and met Steve in the left field stands approximately 5 milliseconds before the game began.
The Tsubamegun guys already wrote about the game, though they weren't there. They've covered most of the game action, so I'm just going to try to add my own observations and whatnot.
First and foremost, the Lotte cheering section really is even weirder than the Fighters cheering section when you take away the drums. Something about the entire soccer-song style makes it really hard to keep everyone together on just lyrics alone, which was most noticeable during chance music and a few of the bouncing songs, where you had to watch the stands to know when to stop rather than watching the field, which is no fun.
But, to my credit, I did all of the cheers, including the jumping, and I have a witness. I was also wearing my Bobby 2010 t-shirt, even though the petition has already been submitted:
Shohei Tateyama was really pitching like Yoshinori Tateyama, anyway, walking people and giving up home runs and all that kind of stuff. When he came out of the game in the 5th inning for a pinch-hitter the Swallows were actually down 5-2, though they managed to tie the game by the end of it, so it was a weird realization that he could not win or lose the game at that point. Also, weird to see Ryosuke Morioka not playing for Chunichi, but that's ok.
Hisao Heiuchi came into the game as a defensive replacement in the 8th, which was exciting because he's one of my favorite 1.5-gun guys in Japan, and I was even telling Steve how Heiuchi has a lot of guts and refuses to stay injured, after last year when he was nearly decapitated by a broken bat and was back on the field 5 days later with a bandage on his neck... and then Heiuchi got hit in the knee by a Chang-Yong Lim fastball in the 1oth inning. He crumpled to the ground and had to be carried off the field on a stretcher. I was almost ready to cry.
Oh yeah, and it would have been really exciting to see Akira Ohtsuka get his first at-bat of 2009, except we didn't because he was immediately pulled for a pinch-hitter.
(I find it somewhat amusing that basically almost all of my favorite Marines players are guys who spent a significant amount of time at ni-gun last year.)
But overall, despite that sometimes it felt like maybe the game would deviate from the norm, in the end, all of the following typical things came true:
1) Lotte fans are nuts
2) Shohei Tateyama didn't lose a game
3) Chang-Yong Lim didn't give up a run
4) Aaron Guiel hit a game-winning home run (off of Brian Sikorski, sadly)
And the Swallows won 6-5 in 11 innings in 4 and a half hours, and I had been awake since 6am, didn't get home until midnight, and thus didn't have a chance to write about the game until now... as it is Saturday afternoon and I am actually on a shinkansen hurtling through the Japan countryside towards Hiroshima, which is why this is a little incoherent/brief.
But I did have a decent time at the game hanging out with Steve -- it's actually not so bad to cheer for Lotte when you're actually there with someone.
I'll be back down in Chiba next weekend for most of the games, though I'll be in the left-field stands most likely due to the opponents being the Fighters and all. Friday night is 360 Beer Stadium, where almost all seats are unreserved seating, beer costs 300 yen and soda costs 200 yen, so kind of a modern-day version of Nickel Beer Night. I'm not really a beer drinker, but I still think it'll be amusing to go to.