I'm going to Seattle from July 26 to August 18, during which time I will probably watch very little baseball, and maybe catch up on cropping some of my huge photo folders.
But anyway, last weekend I spent Saturday going to the Toshitaikou bracketing and to the Yakult-Hanshin game at Jingu, Sunday I went to Edogawa for the Teikyo vs. Nichidai Sakuragaoka game, Monday I was kind of sick so didn't go to Kamagaya and stayed home instead, Tuesday I had my last day of work for spring semester and then went to the Tokyo Dome for the Yakult-Yomiuri game, Wednesday I had to go to the immigration office and ward office, Thursday I went to Jingu for some West Tokyo tournament action and saw Waseda Jitsugyo vs. Soka, as well as bits and pieces of the other two games, and then Friday I went to Omiya for the Urawa Gakuin vs. Washinomiya game.
Both Thursday and Friday involved sitting out in 97-degree heat and coming home in various degrees of heatstroke; Friday also involved sunburn despite wearing sunscreen. Bleh. So when I came home from those games, rather than blogging about them, I tended to spend 2-3 hours drinking cold sports drinks and sitting under the airconditioner zoning out until I stopped feeling sick.
In the meantime, I'm hoping/planning to watch some more high school baseball on both Saturday and Sunday, AND I have to pack to go to Seattle.
So let me just try to sum things up quickly for now...
First, at least I got to see Teikyo on the 18th, because they lost on the 20th to Kokushikan. So I didn't get to see Takuro Itoh up close this year, sadly, because I ended up standing in the very back of a tiny 2500-seat stadium in Edogawa, which was at least shady and cool, but not so great for taking photos. Also the game on the 18th was a little bizarre in that it got called mid-inning, but I'll explain more about that when I write a full post about the game. I still can't believe they lost, though; I was seriously planning to watch Shutoku vs. Teikyo on the 25th.
In the meantime, I still haven't seen Shutoku, but plan to go on the 25th anyway. Ace pitcher and cleanup batter Taiki Mitsumata had some leg problems but seems to be okay now, so I look forward to seeing him play.
Oberlin played Nichidai Tsurugaoka at 9am, so I made it there for only the last inning or so. I did see Masaki Kuwata (Masumi's son), but didn't see him actually swing a bat. Masaki, for the record, plays centerfield for Oberlin, and does not pitch as far as I know, or at least didn't pitch in this tournament. They lost 4-1, though, so Tsurugaoka goes on to the next round, where they will promptly get smacked down by Nichidai San, most likely. Tsurugaoka did go to Koshien 2-3 years ago and the manager was a classmate of one of my coworkers. Small world.
Waseda Jitsugyo vs. Soka was fun mostly because Soka's ouendan is really cool. But I ran into one of my 7th-graders there, and he and his family are friends with a kid on the Waseda team named Konsu Yasuda, so they asked me to cheer for him with them. I'm kind of anti-Waseda on the college level, but Yasuda turned out to be a pretty exciting player, great hitter and fast runner, and killer smile as well, he looked like he was just having the time of his life to run around the Jingu bases. As a photographer, he is an ideal baseball player, seriously. Soka's ace is a freshman named Tanaka and he was no match for Waseda, basically. They followed him with a lefty named Andoh who ran out of steam and the team eventually lost 15-3. I have to wonder which current Soka boy will be on the Fighters in 5 years.
I didn't stay for all of Wasedadai Gakuin vs. Toa Gakuen because I was having the aforementioned heatstroke issues. As it is, Waseda won, so there's going to be a Waseda-Waseda semi-final game in West Tokyo. BORING. I am not going to that :)
Urawa Gakuin beat Washinomiya today, 6-2. I did not infact get to see Atsuki Minami, the 197-cm tall half-American pitcher, except on the sidelines with his teammates (he sticks out because he is TALL and funny-looking). Instead, I saw Ryosuke Abe, who has struck out 45 batters in 31 innings of the Saitama tournament, including 13 in this game. Seriously, if Uragaku makes it to Koshien this year, this kid might take the country by storm, as everyone's been reading about Minami instead of him.
And MORE crazy, I got to see Masaya Masubuchi pitch for Washinomiya. I was wondering why people were wearing Yakult Masubuchi t-shirts until I realized, oh crap, Washinomiya... THAT'S TATSUYOSHI'S LITTLE BROTHER. He's a little lefty pitcher with some control issues, he hit several batters and walked several more.
I stayed for a slight bit of the second game, Sakado Nishi vs. Ichiritsu Kawagoe. They both looked pretty hapless in the first inning or two (the very first batter of the game struck out swinging, the catcher dropped the third strike, then missed first base when throwing there), but apparently settled down after a while for a Kawagoe 12-5 win.
The other Masubuchi thing is that in the Yakult game I saw on Tuesday night, the Swallows had tied it 3-3 (home runs by Aoki and Iihara, yay!) and went into extra innings. The game ended on, I am not making this up, a sayonara E1. With runners at first and second, Masubuchi fielded a sac bunt, threw to third, overthrew third, and that was the game. Ugh. I must bring bad luck for that family.
So on that note, hopefully I'll be going to Yokohama tomorrow, then Jingu Sunday, then Seattle on Monday. And when I get back to Japan in August I plan to go on a 10-day wild train adventure all over the country, from Hokkaido to Akita to Iwate for Fighters games, then down to Shikoku for a Tokyo Big 6 All-Star Game and a Shikoku Island League game, and maybe also a stop in at Hiroshima on the way down. And when I get back from all of that, we'll have the Toshitaikou industrial tournament, and following that, my last semester of Tokyo Big 6 will start!
No Koshien for me this year unless something truly bizarre happens, though. Which is why I'm trying so hard to make it to all of these regional tournaments now and get my sunburn and headslides out of the way so I won't feel too bad about missing the real thing.
And on another note, one of my 9th-graders plays on a little league team that won the recent Tokyo Chunichi Sports tournament (and he was selected for the tourney Best 9 list as first baseman!), so he's heading to Kyushu tomorrow for an All-Japan little league tournament. I'm ridiculously proud of him, and hope it helps him get a recommendation to a good baseball high school.