Thursday, February 11, 2016

Fighters Spring Camp Day 3 - Bravo Fighters and Other Game Day Craziness

Today camp featured another game between the KBO Giants and the Fighters.  Same teams from Monday's game, although this time they switched which uniforms they were wearing, so I have a completely new set of pictures that I'm never going to finish going through.

I slept in slightly this morning, by which I mean I got to practice around 10:15, by which point they were already winding down to get ready for the game.  BUT, I did get to catch up with Fernando Seguignol for a while, which totally made my day.  This winter I spent a week in Costa Rica over the holidays, and there were bananas everywhere, and I kept telling my fiance about how we used to have this player on the Fighters who was from Panama and people would wave bananas during his at-bat -- and well, get this, when I mentioned it to Seggy, it turns out I was in the part of Costa Rica that is only a few miles away from his hometown in Panama!  How crazy is that?

After that Dave and I wandered over to the main field.  On the way we saw Kagiya running in the Field #3 outfield, and I was looking over at him, and he smiled and waved at me while I was debating if I should wave or not!  So I felt like slightly less of a big dork smiling and waving back at him.  That was good.

The posted "menu" for the day actually had the lineups for the game on it, so that meant I also knew that Ohtani would pitch two innings, then Arihara 2, then Yagi 2, then Segawa, Inui, and Kanehira each 1.  I feel kind of silly for not having looked at it on Monday, since I would have known Kagiya was pitching too.  Go figure.

We did enter the stadium at opening, although despite there being a lot more people for the game due to Ohtani starting, those people were mostly scouts and sat behind home plate, so we had no competition to sit behind the dugout.  So, I set up behind the dugout, behind the opening in the fence, and put up my Ohtani towel that I brought with me that day, with the idea that in theory he'd have to see it when he came back to the dugout.

Then I hung out for a while just taking photos and stuff.  Dani didn't come until around 11:40, so it was a little harder to go around as we only had two of us to watch stuff.  So like, at one point, Sho Nakata threw a ball far back into the stands and I was like "Oh, that was at Inaba," so Dave ran off to get Inaba's signature, for example.

I spent about ten minutes really wanting to say something to Kaneko and finally at some point when there was a lull in the pre-game stuff and he was just kind of standing around I called down to him,

金子さああああああん!  (Kaneko-saaaan!)
はい?  (Hmm?)
アメリカに来てくれてありがとうございます!  (Thank you for coming to the US!)
ああ、どうも。 (Oh, sure.)
来年も来てください!!  (Please come back next year!!)
(笑) (laughs)

I'm somewhat jealous since Dave managed to get Kaneko's autograph before I showed up this morning, but that's beside the point.

Anyway, I was able to run and get a hot dog and drink from concessions before the game started, which was good -- and they even had souvenir cups for Padres/Mariners spring training, so I got one of those, and asked them for as much ice as possible, and it ended up lasting me all game!

Let's see if I can sum up the game to mention the things people might actually care about that happened.  I mean, overall it ended up being a 1-1 game, so not a lot of scoring to speak of.  The Fighters run came in the 6th inning when Haruki Nishikawa led off with a double and scored on a single by Go Matsumoto.  The Giants run came in the 9th inning when Dong Su Kang led off with what ended up being a triple into left-center, and scored on a single by Yeung Sek Son.  I pretty much completely lost track of which Giants pitcher was on the mound when, so I don't know who gave up the Fighters run, but I do know that Masashi Kanehira gave up the Giants run.

Shohei Ohtani pitched the first two innings.  He faced 7 batters and it basically went: Fly out to center, ground out to short, single to right, strikeout, strikeout, strikeout, strikeout.

I know this sounds lame, but I just don't know enough about the Lotte Giants to know what to say about them.  There was a somewhat funny moment when Jun Seok Choi, the Lotte DH who is around 6' and 235 pounds and thus looks utterly not Asian in build, hit what could have and maybe should have been a double, but since he was lumbering around the basepath he got tagged out on a 9-4 play before he actually got to second base.

Ryo Watanabe looked really good at second base, I have a bunch of stars next to plays he made for various reasons I can't remember now (although one I remember being him jumping to catch a line fly).

Speaking of Ryo, they had in a row in the lineup Ryo Ishikawa, Ryo Watanabe, and Ryosuke Kishisato, or as Dani was saying, the "Ryo Trio", because the announcer kept pronouncing their name like "Rio Ishikawa".  So I was singing "His name is Rio and he dances on the sand..."

Apart from game action, most of the wackiness of today arose from when I decided to go for a walk around the 5th-6th inning.  This was mostly because I realized that I wasn't really going to get to see the stadium if all I did was sit behind the Fighters dugout the whole time.  Also, it was really hot out, so I thought taking a break in the shade for a bit would be nice.

This turned out to be my downfall, as basically, I went to stand in the shade for a minute and I ended up getting approached from this guy with a big TV camera, and he was like (in English) "Hi, I'm with a TV show, can I ask you a question?" but I was looking at the board he was holding, which said "Who would you choose as your boyfriend?" which is a variation of a TV segment "恋人選び", which I know I've seen at least one version of.  Like, sometimes it's "which member of AKB48?" or "which guy on the national soccer team?" and so on, and they survey a bunch of people and try to figure out the most popular.

So, Bravo Fighters was going to do this in Arizona and ask random American women to look at a group of Fighters players and choose someone.

Except that I am the least random American woman you could possibly find there.  Which should have been obvious by my custom signed pinned pimped-up Fighters gear, but maybe not.

He shows me this board:

and I'm thinking, like, there are several Fighters players I find quite adorable and charming, except ABSOLUTELY NONE OF THEM ARE ON THIS BOARD.  I wonder if they put it together for "guys we think might be appealing to American women", because there's no way you'd do this for Japanese women without including Taniguchi.

So I answer, "Huh?  Kagiya's not on there?"

And he's like "Kagiya?"

I turn around to show him my uniform like "Yeah, he's my favorite player, the pitcher, number 30".

"Oh, sorry.  No, no Kagiya.  How about out of this list of guys?"

I pause for a bit.  "Huh, I don't know.  Maybe Sugiya?"

"Okay, Sugiya.  Why Sugiya?"

"Because he's really funny.  He's always laughing and makes me laugh a lot."

Anyway, I told him he should wait for my friend to get back since she's wearing a Nishikawa uniform, and sure enough Dani came by and I had him interview her too, and she didn't even know what happened during my exchange but also picked Sugiya.

He ended up talking to me for a while and filmed part of my scorebook as well, because I was keeping score after we talked, and I showed him how I had some games from the Sapporo Dome last fall, and stickers of guys like Kisanuki on the front, and so on.  I'm a big dork, these things happen.

When I first started writing this entry I just knew that the segment had aired, which was possibly one of the most mortifyingly embarrassing things to happen to me in a while, since a bunch of friends in Hokkaido emailed or tweeted at me saying they had seen me on TV, and a few even sent screencaps.

However!  Since I didn't finish this entry before falling asleep, in the morning, someone had found the episode of Bravo Fighters for me on Youtube!  So you can watch it all, in its glory.  My appearance is at about 12:35, though the entire segment starts at about 11:00 when Ikeda-san explains his idea to do the Koibito-Erabi schtick.

Or if you don't feel like watching that video, a few screencaps:

Me saying "Ehh?  No Kagiya?"

They subtitled me as a "Big Kagiya Fan"

Captioned as "Fighters fan since the Tokyo Dome era"

Me saying "Well, Sugiya is the funniest guy..."


Oh, also, if you watch the rest of the clip, you might notice the first half is all about Ohtani's start, and all the scouts who showed up to watch him, and Dani and I make a brief cameo at 2:47 or so with our cameras out behind my Ohtani towel hanging from the dugout:

So aside from telling the entire island of Hokkaido about my crush on Kagiya, the other funny thing that happened while walking around was that Dani and I ran into Minivish, the somewhat infamous Yu Darvish cosplayer who's been around for the last few years.  He's from Ibaraki but lives in LA; I met him a few times before, like in Oakland and also at Yankee Stadium for days Darvish was starting.

Before the game, actually, a bunch of Fighters players were pointing and laughing like "Hey, there's that crazy Darvish cosplayer", and someone else at the game even tweeted how WOW MINIVISH IS HERE by taking a photo of him talking to me.

So Dani and I went to chase down Minivish and next thing we know he's getting filmed for a segment on Bravo Fighters as well, although obviously not asking who he'd choose as his boyfriend.

After all of that excitement I just walked around the stands for an inning or so.  Made it all the way to the bullpens in right field, where we saw Hakumura walk by and said hi, and then Dani went back to the seats and I walked to the left field area.  There's a lounge there that looks really nice, but it wasn't open for the game.

I came back to our seats and mostly didn't move again for the rest of the game for fear I would manage to embarrass myself even more.

As mentioned, the game ended in a 1-1 tie.  Knowing this time that we'd get thrown out of the stadium pretty quickly afterwards, rather than dawdling behind the dugout until we got ejected, Dani and Dave and I went up to the area behind home plate and took some photos with the stadium in the background and stuff.  Then Dave left, since he had to pack up to head back east afterwards.  Dani and I went into the Peoria team store, which had a ton of awesome Mariners and Padres spring training gear that we totally didn't want to buy because it was all stupid expensive!  I found a cool t-shirt or two and they were all like $40.  I mean, I have a good job now and can afford whatever, really, but I have a LOT of t-shirts and these days I try hard not to buy things that I'm not going to use or wear if at all possible.

So, Dani and I both bought eco-friendly shopping bags, since they were both cheap and actually useful, plus they weren't branded Mariners or Padres -- just about every piece of merchandise was branded to one team or another.

I thought about maybe trying to get some of the Fighters to sign my bag, except that I think then I won't bother ever using it, so instead maybe I'll see about getting a postcard signed and I can put that on my desk at work or something and it might be nice.

Dani went back to meet players after the game and all, but I had bought a ticket to the Warriors-Suns game, so I couldn't really stay around all that long.  Oddly, most of the Fighters team had gone to the Coyotes-Canucks hockey game, which I even knew was happening, but I figured that rather than stalking the Fighters at the hockey arena, I'd be better off going to another Warriors game -- and I was able to get a lower-level seat for $70, which is pretty much impossible to do in Oakland.  Like, when the Suns come to Oakland in a few weeks, there ARE no tickets for under $100, not even in the upper deck.  So I thought I'd take my opportunity to see the best team in basketball a little closer up.  (We were at the Warriors-Thunder game on Sunday, and paid like $150ish to sit in the upper deck, and were lucky.)

I was originally going to bring a Warriors shirt with me, but my luggage space was a bit tight and I wasn't sure how well it would go over in an away city.  Turns out that probably half the arena or more were wearing Warriors gear and carrying Warriors signs; I completely didn't feel guilty cheering any of the many many times Stephen Curry made a 3-point shot or Klay Thompson pulled points out of thin air as well.  (They ended with 26 and 24 points each respectively.)

So instead I went in Fighters gear:

And then it turned out that Luis Mendoza was also at the game!  Alas, we were on opposite sides of the court, so I didn't see him.  Probably just as well, really.

Anyway, if you've read this far, you deserve to see some actual real, relevant photos:

Haruki Nishikawa

Team huddle while Shirai talks

Makoto Kaneko

Bit wider shot of the huddle for irony's sake -- you can see the other side of this in the Fighters PR tweet.  And Dave is at the left standing there over the dugout.

Sho Nakata

Whole pile of scouts sitting behind home plate for the first few innings.

Some guy throwing a 98 mph fastball

Our view of the whole thing!  (You could see the other side from that screencap earlier.)

Daikan Yoh

Sho with his "TB okay" bat donut

Seung-Taek Oh

Ryo Ishikawa's broken bat

Dani's favorite player Joon-suk Choi, with Shogo Yagi pitching

Yu-yeong Kim -- not sure why but several people came over to take photos of him from our side

Yuto Takahama

Masashi Kanehira

Final score

And here's me and Dave!  So now if you ever hate our blogs or want to argue about baseball cards you can go hunt us down in real life, or something.

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