On the first day at Seibu, the Lions gave to me:
10 stranded runners
9 Wakui strikeouts
6 lousy hits
5 runs for Seibu
4 runs off Sweeney
3 walked Lions scored
2 Fighters reached third
and a hero interview by G.G.
On the second day at Seibu, the Lions gave to me:
1 first-inning homer
a 2-run in the second
a 3-run in the third
None in the fourth (Thank god!)
8 Fighters strikeouts
7 lousy hits
4 measly runs
And another interview by G.G.
On the third day at Seibu, the Lions gave to me:
9 Fighters hits
8 Seibu hits
7 Yoshikawa strikeouts
6 Yoshikawa innings
5 Seibu runs
4 Fighters runs
3 hours of pain
2 last-minute runs in the 8th inning off Tateyama on a Gotoh double (ARGH)
AND THE SEIBU LIONS SWEPT US IN THREE
Seriously, this series sucked. The first game, which was Sweeney vs. Wakui, my friends all left in the 7th inning when we were down 5-0, and in the second game, Tadano vs. Kazuhisa Ishii, I almost considered going home in the middle as well out of sheer exhaustion. As it is, I stayed until the bitter end and was apparently on TV in the 9th inning holding up my Tsuboi and Inaba signs and looking very sad, according to the phone emails I got from a few people immediately after the game.
In the third game, Yoshikawa-kun vs. Old Man Nishiguchi, the Fighters were finally winning!1!1!1!11! and then of course Yoshinori Tateyama came out to pitch and I said "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO" and wrapped my head up in my towel again, and shortly afterwards, the Lions won the game.
Tateyama -- I'm sorry, but I really just can't see you anymore. I know we go back for years and years and all, but it's just too painful watching you now. You have broken my heart for the last time.
I swear, the only reason the Fighters are still in first place despite barely winning any games in the last month is because the Hawks are choking almost as badly.
And for whatever reason, G.G. Satoh was 8-for-11 with 7 RBIs over these three games. He also changed into a new uniform every time he got dirty sliding into bases. Lame.
Anyway, I don't really want to talk about us getting stomped by Seibu, so instead I will talk about something else:
The Lions have been doing this Salaryman Night thing for quite a while, where after the game people can go on the field and play catch, and they also can get in line to field grounders hit by ex-Seibu players (in this case, Tatsuya Ozeki and Taisei Takagi) in the infield. Outside the stadium, the team sells "salaryman bento" boxes with various foods in them.
I'm not sure why it's called Salaryman Night exactly, given that it seemed like basically anyone could go on the field and do stuff, but whatever. I had never stayed for it before because I was under the impression you had to actually be a salaryman to take part in the event.
They actually sell baseballs on the field there -- one side has soft ones for people with no glove to play catch, and the other side is for hard balls for people who have gloves. My friends had warned me in advance to bring a glove, and some of them even brought baseballs, so we were covered.
Here we are waiting outside the centerfield gate to enter the field.
People playing catch on the field.
This guy is one of my friends, I just caught him in a funny shot.
I ran into one of the infamous Seibu cosplayers. This guy was, for a change, dressed up as Kazuo Matsui. (I've seen some guys who go around in full 80's Kiyohara garb.) I wanted to take a photo of him and he insisted we take one together.
Here's the gang I was sitting with in the stands and playing catch with after the game. Would you believe that we posed in front of the scoreboard when it said Salaryman Night, and by the time the picture was taken, it had changed? I didn't even notice until I got home. Doh.
I am apparently the only lefty in our group, but one of the guys said that I throw a pretty good breaking ball. "Just like Okajima," he was joking.
After we left the field, I bugged one of my friends to snap a few more silly photos... they didn't quite come out the way I wanted, but maybe you'll get the idea:
DIE WAKUI DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE
OKAWARI OKAWARI MOU IP-PUNCH!
See, there are these player cutouts outside the park that usually people pose for photos with, and there were infact some women posing with the Nakajima one before we came over. So I waited for my turn to take a photo, walked up, and when I started pretending I was trying to choke Wakui to death, even the Seibu fans started laughing.
Then another one of the Seibu fans said, "Hey, they have Okawari-kun on the other side, shouldn't you be choking him instead?"
Rode back to Tokyo with everyone. We were joking and laughing about Salaryman night and other stuff the entire way, and I wasn't in such a bad mood when I got home, but the next day I was feeling pretty bummed that my last Fighters series of the year was a stupid sweep by Seibu.
So, despite the 19th-23rd being "Silver Week", a 5-day holiday for most people in Japan, and knowing travel arrangements were going to be dicey at best at this point, I went and bought tickets to the 19th and 20th Fighters-Buffaloes games at the Kyocera Dome Osaka, and I arranged transportation as well, shinkansen to Osaka at Super-Early O'Clock, coming back by bus on Sunday overnight.
And the Fighters are going to win. Or else.