On Tuesday the 29th, the junior high school I work at had a track and field event at the National Stadium in Sendagaya -- that big stadium that happens to be right next to Jingu.
So after a day of cheering for kids from my school as they ran past things, jumped over things, and threw things, I walked over to Jingu to cheer for the Yakult Swallows as they also ran past things, jumped over things, and threw things. All things considered, the oldest kids at my JHS are 15 years old, and the Swallows starting pitcher Yoshinori Satoh is 19 years old, so it wasn't THAT different, really.
I ran into two people that I'd met at the Tokyo Big 6 games over the weekend, a Meiji alum guy who is now in his 70's, and a lady in her 50's who just loves college baseball. They also happen to be Fighters fans, so I think they were as surprised to see me going to the Swallows game as I was to see them. So we got tickets and lined up to go into the stadium together.
On the way there, we saw a few Swallows players go by! I'd heard that if you got to the stadium super-early, you could see some of the players as they go from the clubhouse to the stadium, but this is the first time I'd ever actually experienced it. First we saw Takehiko Oshimoto, who used to be on the Fighters, but was part of the Fujii trade. I got a photo with him!
I told him, "I'm actually a Fighters fan, I used to cheer for you all the time!" and he was sort of like "Oh? I see, thank you."
(Also, close up, he looks kind of like my favorite Dragons player Masahiko Morino. It's kind of odd.)
We saw a few other players go by, and as we went towards the line to wait to go into the stadium, we saw Ryota Igarashi on his bicycle. He seemed to be in a pretty big hurry after signing one or two things for other people so I didn't get a photo with him, but I got a photo of him...
We told him "ganbatte" and all, and he thanked us and pedalled off.
We went into the stadium and sat up near the top of section D. It was raining on and off all day, even a bit during the game.
Christopher from Tsubamegun showed up around 6:45pm, which was good, since I didn't remember which people up there were with his group or not. It was good to hang out with him again, and another guy named Mike also came by, so we got to be the token foreigners in the outfield, I suppose.
Actually, Christopher already recapped the game, so I'm not going to go through everything myself as well, but just add a few of my own things:
- I hadn't noticed since I'm only ever in the outfield for Giants games there, but apparently it's not ALWAYS "Kutabare Yomiuri" during Tokyo Ondo. Really, "Kutabare Hanshin" doesn't have the same ring to it.
- Norichika Aoki hit a home run. Actually, his 2-run homer accounted for all the runs the Swallows scored.
- Oshimoto pitched in the game! Hooray! But unfortunately, his very first pitch was sent over the wall into the Tigers cheering section by Takahiro Arai. Doh.
- Former Fighter Hashimoto followed him and pitched a scoreless inning.
- Former Fighter Keizo Kawashima is out with a sore elbow. I bought a Kawashima towel after soul-searching between whether to get a Kawashima one or an Iihara one. I like Iihara a lot, but I think having a Kawashima towel is easier to explain to people since I used to like Keizo a lot when he was with the Fighters.
- Yuji Onizaki has gotten really good since I last saw him at ni-gun. Good for him! I wonder if he's going to step over Miyamoto and Kawabata in the ladder for the left half of the infield next year.
- Yoshinori really should have gone to college. More specifically, it would have been awesome if he'd gone to, say, Rikkio. Then we could still see him at Jingu all the time, but at least he'd be pitching on a more appropriate level for his development as a player, instead of getting his arm blown out as a hyped young star.
- I will admit I know absolutely nothing about Formula One, so it was pretty bizarre to me when they suddenly out of nowhere had David Coulthard driving a Red Bull race car around the Jingu field between innings:
- Yakult ouenka are somewhat hard for my poor gaijin tongue to keep up with. However, I figured out that part of it actually is just that since taiko drums aren't allowed in Jingu, it's just a little hard to figure out the right cadence for the lyrics to the songs. (As in, I KNOW the words, but I always seem to be stumbling over them trying to keep up with everyone, if that makes any sense. Hiroyasu Tanaka's in particular always gets me.) I think that a lot of people are actually a little off-beat anyway, so it's not that big a deal.
- Anyway, the final score was 8-2. 12 hits by the Tigers plus 5 walks from Yoshinori and his own two errors certainly didn't help. I feel bad for the kid, really.
(I just hope they don't screw up Mikinori Katoh. I suppose he's a lot less of a "big name" per se.)
I'll be back at Jingu on Monday night for the Swallows-Giants game. Kutabare Yomiuri!