The thing that truly makes Seibu somewhat terrifying as a team is that they ALWAYS seem to have a huge reserve of random talented players, hiding in the wings, waiting to be unleashed upon the rest of the world at any given time. Seriously. I don't know how they manage to keep these guys hidden so well, aside from the fact that Tokorozawa is so damn far away that they always have trouble filling the stadium no matter how good the ichi-gun team is, and nobody bothers schlepping out there for ni-gun games either.
(Last weekend, reported attendance for Fighters ni-gun games at Kamagaya: 1557; 1813. Reported attendance for Lions ni-gun games at Seibu 2nd Stadium: 325; 618. Perhaps Seibu makes sure not to have real seats at their stadium in a deliberate attempt to keep anyone from actually learning about their farm team. Hmm.)
I guess it's a good way to keep the regulars on their toes, though, knowing that there are people waiting in the wings in ni-gun to take their jobs should they falter.
Anyway, this game was really frustrating as a Fighters fan, because we sort of go into Darvish starts expecting to win -- he is, after all, currently leading the PL in ERA, wins, and strikeouts -- so when Seibu went ahead 1-0 early on a Takeya "Okawari-kun" Nakamura home run, it was not a good sign, and two innings later the Lions made it 2-0 with a string of hits and an RBI single from Yoshihito Ishii.
One of my friends asked me how you say "Okawari-kun" in English. I was like "Well, for drinks it's refills, but for food we don't really have one word. Some people call him 'Mr. Second Helpings', if that makes any sense." The Lions fans even have a special cheer for him, yelling "Okawari okawari mou ippon!", essentially asking for another plate of homerun.
I was cheering for Makoto Kaneko with some friends in the front row -- we were calling it "Makoto Festival, #8 for the 8th", and he hit a home run in the 5th inning, which was exciting, and then Terrmel Sledge hit a 2-run home run in the 6th which made it 3-2.
However, in the bottom of the 7th, out of nowhere, this Uemoto kid pinch-hits for that Ginjiro kid, and hits a 2-run homer just to the right of centerfield, caught on the fly by a kid with a glove. And the game was 4-3, and I had a sinking feeling that was where it was going to end, and it did. The ending sucked, too, Chikara Onodera has apparently moved back into the closer role this year and is doing an okay job of it -- Tsuboi was pinch-hitting with one out in the top of the 9th, and Kazuya Murata was the runner at first, and Tsuboi hit a liner to second. It was supposed to be a hit-and-run I think, and Murata was already practically at second base by the time the ball smacked into Yasuyuki Kataoka's glove, and he tagged Murata out, and that was the end of the game.
I seriously don't really want to talk about this game because it made me really grumpy. I didn't even stick around for the hero interview (they were announcing it was Uemoto as I was leaving the stadium), I just kind of ran outside and started walking towards the train station as they were asking him "How did it feel to hit a home run off of Yu Darvish?" and such. Grumble.
I was, infact, so pissed off, that I took an axe and cut off manager Hisanobu Watanabe's head:
No, just kidding. It was part of the Lions Classic display, but when are you pissed off and running towards the station and suddenly see a headless Seibu guy standing there, it is a little freaky. From the front it actually looked like this:
Whatever. I didn't go back to the Seibu Dump on Thursday because I had to stay late at my school helping students by doing mock interviews for an English speaking test they have to take this weekend. Good thing, too, because I would not have been happy watching the Fighters get swept by Seibu. Softbank took 2 of 3 from Orix and now they are in sole possession of 1st place instead of us, too.
On a brighter note, however, when I got home from the Seibu Dump that evening, I was so annoyed about the game that I impulsively decided to go buy tickets for two Fighters games in Hokkaido, so that I would finally be committed to actually going up there, dammit. So, I'll be flying up to Hokkaido on July 30th, and I'll be sitting in the left field stands at the Sapporo Dome for the games against Softbank on July 31st and August 1st. I'm hoping to do a Dome tour on the 30th and hit up Hillman's Hangout and such again.