Hichori Morimoto had his Baystars team introduction event today in Yokohama's Chinatown. Usually these things involve a very serious press conference like thing sitting at a desk with reporters and whatnot, but well, this is Hichori, so instead, a few thousand fans came out to see him and he dressed up as Ramenman and performed stunts for the crowd in more of a festival environment.
At the time it was going on, I was in Nippori singing baseball karaoke with one of my groups of Fighters fan friends -- we planned today as our year-end party about 2 months ago, way before we had any clue that Hichori would even remotely entertain the thought of leaving the Fighters, so our party was at Hichori's parents' yakiniku restaurant in Nippori, where we've held a bunch of our parties before too. In the past two months, the Fighters traded away our group's namesake (Toshimasa Konta, #52 -- we called our group "Team 52" this year) as well as Sunaga, also traded away Takaguchi and Yamamoto -- and Takaguchi was another one of our group's favorites. Yoshinori Tateyama, my nemesis, signed with the Texas Rangers. And then, the unthinkable happened -- Hichori went to the Baystars.
So at our dinner tonight there was definitely a feeling of "How many of your uniforms are no longer valid?" among everyone, since half our group had Konta stuff, another bunch had Takaguchi stuff, or Tsuboi stuff (he was cut and Itoi was dropped to #7), or Tsuruoka stuff (he got Tateyama's old #22), and so on. To add insult to injury, one of the guys in our group wore a Baystars Terahara jersey (he was just traded to Orix). Of course, the irony is that there was another group of baseball fans having a year end party there tonight -- an Orix ouendan. So we had some good-natured yelling and singing back and forth between our groups.
Anyway, several years ago I used to cheer for Yokohama, and the only Baystars jersey I owned was a Takuro Ishii #5 jersey, which has largely sat in my closet unused for the last two years since I got pissed off at the team and stopped going to ichi-gun games. I went and ordered a Kagami #21 jersey on Monday after the Baystars finally introduced their new players and announced numbers for them. So, I suppose now I have two jerseys. But, go figure, guess who has #5 on Yokohama now? None other than Hichori.
So I suppose it's okay to wear this jersey again after all.
I got a photo with Hichori's dad, who was surprised that I already had a Baystars #5 jersey, but I pointed out that it was very old and joked that I'd erase the "T. Ishii" and superimpose "H. Morimoto" on it. He also asked if they'd see me on TV next year cheering for Hichori in the Baystars cheering section, and I said that was unlikely as I was moving back to the US next month.
(Which, by the way, if you're wondering, is why I've been too busy to blog much...)
Also, for the record, their restaurant is still filled with Fighters stuff. I asked whether they'd be getting rid of it all and the answer was something to the effect of "Well, we're not going to be putting up any more Fighters stuff, and we probably will start to put up Baystars stuff as it exists, but the stuff that's here now won't go away until it needs to."