Saturday, July 31, 2010

World University Baseball Championship, Day 2 and 3

I am in Seattle until August 18th and thus I am not going to the WUBC.
I am in Seattle until August 18th and thus I am not going to the WUBC.
I am in Seattle until August 18th and thus I am not going to the WUBC.
I am in Seattle until August 18th and thus I am not going to the WUBC.
I am in Seattle until August 18th and thus I am not going to the WUBC.

Day 2:

My Kagami got a chance to pitch! Hooray! But it was against a Chinese team that totally got blown out! Boo!

Japan annhilated China by a score of 15-0 in a 6-inning called game where exactly one Chinese batter reached base (embarassingly, it was a hit off of Kagami). Yusuke Nomura started and pitched 3 innings, striking out 6, Kagami followed with 2 innings striking out 4, and Yuhei Nakaushiro pitched the last inning, striking out 2. (Much better than when he got roughed up by the NPB Fresh All-Stars on Monday.) Hayata Itoh continued his Clutchy McClutchiness streak and hit another home run.

Two other blowout called games happened as well, as Cuba beat Korea 18-0 in 5 innings before an audience of 500 or so at Jingu (ouch), and Canada blew out Sri Lanka 18-0 in 5 innings at Meiji University's Utsumi/Shimaoka ballpark in a relatively large crowd of 140.

Day 3:
Kagami got to pitch again. Unfortunately, this time it was against a Cuban team that pounded the hell out of Japan 12-7, and like most of the other guys who pitched, he got pounded. At least he didn't give up a home run (Fujioka and Sugano each gave up 3 homers, though Sugano also struck out 5 guys in 3 innings, which is not bad). I guess I was right that it was going to be an "interesting" game.

The US beat Chinese Taipei and Korea beat China, neither of which is a surprise.

In the meantime, Sri Lanka has now been pounded 49-0 in 15 innings. I feel kinda bad for them.

Chinese Taipei has been holding its own very well against the other teams despite that it lost to Canada and the US. One wonders why Cuba isn't in the US-Canada group and Chinese Taipei isn't in the Japan-China-Korea group as usual?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Tokyo Big 6 Fall Semester

Tokyo Big 6 released their Fall 2010 Schedule and also the preseason games in August and September. Hosei has the longest preseason stretch with the most games, starting with a game against Tsukuba University on August 5th and going through to the 6th of September. Hopefully this means they want to get in a lot of practice and claw their way back from finishing 5th last semester.

As for the season, the opening ceremony is September 11th at 10:15am. The rest is as follows:

Date 3rd 1st 3rd 1st
Week 1:
9/11 Keio - Tokyo Hosei - Waseda
9/12 Waseda - Hosei Keio - Tokyo

Week 2:
9/18* Meiji - Tokyo Hosei - Rikkio
9/19* Rikkio - Hosei Tokyo - Meiji

Week 3:
9/25 Keio - Rikkio Waseda - Meiji
9/26 Meiji - Waseda Rikkio - Keio

Week 4:
10/2 Hosei - Keio Waseda - Tokyo
10/3 Tokyo - Waseda Keio - Hosei

Week 5:
10/9 Hosei - Meiji Tokyo - Rikkio
10/10 Rikkio - Tokyo Meiji - Hosei

Week 6:
10/16 Meiji - Keio Waseda - Rikkio
10/17 Rikkio - Waseda Keio - Meiji

Week 7:
10/23 Meiji - Rikkio Tokyo - Hosei
10/24 Hosei - Tokyo Rikkio - Meiji

Week 8:
10/30 Waseda (Away, 1st) - Keio (Home, 3rd)
10/31 Keio (Away, 3rd) - Waseda (Home, 1st)

(The final week is what's called "Soukeisen" (or Keisousen depending on what college you cheer for) and is the biannual Waseda-Keio slugfest, so Waseda is always 1st base and Keio is always 3rd base regardless of who is the "home" team in either game.)

These are all Saturday-Sunday pairs, all games played at Jingu Stadium. They play best-of-3 matches each weekend, so if one team doesn't win both games, they go to a third game on Monday (and rainouts and ties will force it to Tuesday or Wednesday, which then wreaks havoc with the Tohto League game schedule). What this means is that in practice, Tokyo almost never plays Monday games, but you can usually count on at least one series per weekend going to 3 games otherwise.

The first game of the morning starts at 11am and the second one theoretically around 1:30pm, except for on September 18/19 when Yakult has evening games at Jingu, so the first game is at 10:30am, and they won't play into extra innings. (It's likely that a few rainouts at Jingu will also get rescheduled for weekends and push back a few other Big 6 games as well, but we won't know until later in September.)

Just like last year, prices are 1300 yen for special seating behind home plate, 1100 yen for normal infield unreserved, 800 yen for students (JHS, HS, college) for infield unreserved, 500 yen for "ouenseki" which means infield but past the base, and under the designation of the specific college's ouendan leaders (they can tell you where to sit and what to do). The outfield is free for women and for kids up through junior high school, and men of HS age or higher have to pay 700 yen -- except in Soukeisen, where everyone has to pay to get in. Kids up to elementary school get in free anywhere as long as they're with a paying adult.

What's crazy about this year is that since Hosei and Rikkio switched places, the typical Week 7 Hosei-Meiji and Tokyo-Rikkio matches that we've seen the last few semesters have been moved up to Week 5. And this year Ohishi isn't playing a game on his birthday (Oct 10th)...

Anyway, I will probably be at a good chunk of these games, particularly Saturdays where Hosei is playing.

I'll be missing most of the preseason games, but oddly enough, I had already planned a trip to Shikoku for the last weekend in August, so when I found out about the Botchan Stadium 10th Anniversary Tokyo Big 6 All-Star Game on August 28th, I was totally all over the idea of going to that. I've already got my ticket.

(And I'm going to cut this off and continue that in another post... despite being on vacation, I have no time to blog after all. Whoops.)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

World University Baseball Championship

As I type this, the World University Baseball Championship (English website!) is starting, although I'm on the other side of the planet now so I'm not going to it. I have to admit that looking at the teams it seems a bit odd that all the USA players are sophomores, whereas the other teams have a mix of all 4 years, including that Cuba has a few graduated players as well -- not sure what the eligibility rules are exactly.

I have to wonder about the usage of KAIT and Utsumi-Shimaoka (Meiji University) for the event, because they're both pretty much in the middle of nowhere and have no seating, but I guess that's what was available. One of the Hosei boys wrote that the Canada and Cuba teams came to practice with the Japan team at the Hosei baseball field too.

Anyway, the big news to me was that two Big 6 kids were added to the roster for the event -- before it was just Yuki Saitoh, Tatsuya Ohishi, Yusuke Nomura, Fumiya Araki, Hiroshi Taki, Keisuke Okazaki, and Hayata Itoh. They are all awesome, to be sure. But then due to injury, Toyodai's Ryo Hayashizaki had to duck out of the tournament and was replaced by Rikkio's Koichiro Matsumoto... and Chuo's Hirokazu Sawamura had to duck out of the tournament and was replaced by none other than my favorite college pitcher Kisho Kagami!

My guess is that with Saitoh and Nomura in the mix as well as the fantastic Tomoyuki Sugano from Tokai and the solid lefty Takahiro Fujioka from Toyodai, there is very little chance of Kagami getting in as a starter, but I could see him getting a few innings of relief pitching before bridging to Ohishi as closer. I hope Kagami does well and doesn't get injured. The draft is only 3 months away...

So far, the USA one-hit Sri Lanka and won 15-0 in a 5-inning called game, with 14 strikeouts. Ouch. Canada beat Chinese Taipei 3-2 in a much closer contest. 50 people came to the USA game, and 300 to the Canada game. Go figure, they're during the day and the USA game was in the middle of nowhere.

5000 people showed up to see Japan beat Korea 4-0 at Jingu. As expected, Yuki Saitoh started, struck out 9 in 6 innings, Masahiro Inui followed him and struck out 5 in 2 innings, and Tatsuya Ohishi pitched a perfect 9th, striking out the side, also as expected. As I've been saying for ages, Ohishi is an awesome strikeout machine. The 4 Japan runs came in on two 2-run homers, one by captain Shota Ishimine and one by Hayata Itoh. Itoh is the best pure hitter in the Tokyo Big 6 league (my nickname for him, especially this spring, has been "Mr. Clutch") and Ishimine is a solid ballplayer, I saw him launch a good home run off Daisuke Takeuchi during the Keio-Tokai game in the All-Japan semifinals.

It'll be interesting to see where the series goes next. I predict Japan will annihilate China, but what happens in the Cuba game could be interesting.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Weekend of High School Games

No photos or boxes yet, sorry. I'm getting on a plane to Seattle in a few hours and I promise that I'll put some photos up while I'm there. I seriously took around 3500 photos of high school baseball in the last week. With luck, at least ONE of the teams I saw will actually go to Koshien... actually, I know for a fact that one HAS to, as I saw the entirety of the East Tokyo semifinals, all four final teams.

Went down to Yokohama Stadium on Saturday to see one of the quarterfinals for Kanagawa prefecture. By a bizarre coincidence, the two schools I saw play each other both have alumni who are current pitchers on the Boston Red Sox -- Yokohama's Daisuke Matsuzaka and Yokohama Shodai's Junichi Tazawa. I sat on the Shodai side because it was slightly less crowded, by which I mean it was still packed, but at least I could find a seat. Shodai was doomed from the start, but they never gave up. They were down 5-0 after the first inning and 10-3 after 2 innings and 12-3 after 3 innings. But rather than be like "oh well, it's hot out, let's just lose and go home", they kept fighting back -- in the bottom of the 5th it was still 12-3 and if Yokohama scored one more run, it would have been called 13-3 on the 10-run advantage, but Shodai wouldn't budge, so it went to the 6th inning, and they managed to hold it at 12-3 then too. Onwards to the 7th, where if they didn't score at least 2 runs, it would be called in 7 innings with a 7-run lead. So what happens? Igarashi hits a 2-run homer and they drive in another run to make it 12-6, and so the game goes on to the bottom of the 7th and they hold yet again! They scored 2 runs off Yokohama freshman lefty Yamauchi in the top of the 8th to make it 12-8, but then the floodgates opened and Yokohama scored 3 in the bottom of the 8th to win 15-8.

It was a seriously exciting game even though Shodai pretty much had no hope of winning. I don't know if they give a "fighting spirit" award for this tournament, although I'm sure plenty of other games have had things like this too. This is why Japanese high school baseball rules, though -- it's such an intense and emotional fight for some of these kids, and they really pour their entire spirit into it, 一球入魂 at its very best.

I didn't stay for the second game of Toin Gakuen vs. Ebina because 3 hours in the blazing sun and 97-degree heat had me already dying of a headache and more sunburn than before. A shame, as Toin Gakuen has turned out many fine ballplayers such as Yoshinobu Takahashi and Taisei Takagi and Koichi Sekikawa and GG Satoh and Keiichi Hirano and of course my favorite pitcher, Kisho Kagami (who is not pro yet, but give it 3 months). Toin lost to Yokohama on Sunday anyway, but that is beside the point.

Sunday, I went to Jingu for the East Tokyo semi-finals, which were Shutoku vs. Kokushikan and Seiritsu vs. Kanto Daiichi. I sat on the first base side to cheer for Shutoku and Seiritsu. I would have been cheering for Teikyo had they been there, but they didn't, so I threw my lot in with Shutoku, and Seiritsu is close to where I live (I always see their soccer club boys in the station with stylized "SEIRITZ FC" bags). And with Shutoku, my college ball friend is a member of the Shutoku Mother's Club, even though her son graduated from there like 15 years ago. He played for the team when they went to Koshien in 1993. So they saved me a seat in the second row behind the Shutoku dugout and I got to listen to older women babbling about what their sons are all up to now that they've grown up and given up baseball for the most part.

One of my JHS students wants to go to Shutoku, and he's been telling me about their ace pitcher slash cleanup batter Taiki Mitsumata for a while. Mitsumata wants to go pro and has had a ton of scouts watching him this year, and having seen him in person now, I could totally imagine it. He's currently 177/82, has a very ballplayer-like build, and can hit the upper 140's on the radar gun in addition to batting for power (15 home runs in his HS career). The other team pretty much refused to pitch to him and he walked three times and had one hit and scored 3 runs. Shutoku won 9-2 in 7 innings. Serves Kokushikan right for beating Teikyo :) One thing that was crazy about this game was that ALL the Kokushikan batters were batting lefty and almost all the Shutoku batters were batting righty. Even a dude who was listed as a righty batter actually went up batting lefty, for Kokushikan. Very bizarre. And yet Shutoku still clobbered them.

It wasn't quite so hot, only in the low 90's instead of the upper 90's, so I managed to stick around for both games that day. The second game was a lot sunnier and hotter than the first, but my friends put an ice pack on my sunburnt neck and that made it a lot better.

The second game was Kanto Daiichi vs. Seiritsu. Kanto Daiichi went to Koshien 2 years ago, they're also a fairly solid team. The boy that captured my heart in this game was Seiritsu's ace pitcher slash cleanup batter Haruki Nishigata, who... I don't know how to describe it, but he pretty much was out there with a smile the entire time he was pitching and batting and playing outfield and whatever. Like, he's not the captain, but he's the kid the others look at when they want to be reassured that hey, everything's okay, we're playing well and we're gonna win, how could we not with a smile like that? The game was close for a few innings and then it started going in favor of Kanto Daiichi, who eventually won 10-3 in 7 innings. The final out of the game was Nishigata, and he slid headfirst into first base, was out, and pounded the ground like "No way. No way. No way." After the two teams lined up and bowed to each other, Nishigata and two other boys collapsed on the ground and started crying like "I can't believe this is how it ends, I thought we were going all the way this year," which is perfectly acceptable here -- usually showing emotion is bad, but for whatever reason, openly weeping after being knocked out of a tournament is normal. They had to be picked up and helped off the field by their teammates.

I did note to my Shutoku friends after the game that I think Shutoku will have a slight advantage in the finals because Daiichi's ace is Keiichi Shirai, a lefty, and Shutoku's lineup is entirely righties, so that should work in their favor. But we'll see. I think it could go either way. Kanto Daiichi's marching band has some AMAZING tuba players, so if nothing else they can entertain the masses at Koshien if they go.

So, that's it for me and high school baseball this year, at least in terms of attending games, but I'll surely be following Koshien over the internet while I'm in Seattle. 13 out of 49 teams have been decided as of right now: Kagoshima Jitsugyo, Nishinihon Tankidai Fuzoku (Fukuoka), Yazu (Tottori), Meitoku Gijuku (Kochi), Konan (Okinawa), Matsumoto Kogyo (Nagano), Hikawa (Yamanashi), Narita (Chiba), Sano Nichidai (Tochigi), Eikou Gakuin (Fukushima), Noshiro Shogyo (Akita), Hachinohei Kodai Ichi (Aomori), and Asahikawa Jitsugyo (Kita Hokkaido). 10 more will be decided by the time my plane is in the air today.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Why I'm too busy to post

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.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Game Report: Swallows vs. Tigers @ Jingu - The Miki Shall Not Inherit The Earth (yet)

After watching the Toshitaikou bracketing on Saturday, I was like "Hey, I was thinking of going to Jingu tonight for the Yakult-Hanshin game, wanna go?"

So we did.

Before the game, I had a very important piece of business to take care of, however. You see, it's been over a year now since Ryuji moved to Sendai, and it's been a long process for me to get over him and find a new guy. I'd started to notice a certain outfielder towards the end of last year though, and after some soul-searching this year, while I realized I am actually more into Mikinori, it's so unpredictable to know when I'll actually get to see him, you never know where he's going to be.

So I finally went ahead and committed to Yasushi:

And so far, he has reciprocated in kind :)

(In other words, I went and bought a Yasushi Iihara #9 jersey before the game, because I realized that getting a Mikinori Katoh jersey specially made was going to take more time and money than I have right now. And apparently I bring Iihara good luck for hitting home runs. Though I'm a little sad because I wanted an away jersey rather than a home jersey, but "free size" away jerseys have like a 31" chest, whereas "free size" home jerseys had a 40" chest, so I had to go with the one that was actually going to, you know, fit me.)

Anyway, we went and found seats in the infield part of outfield unreserved kind of near the bullpen, and I went off to the top of section D to say hi to Kozo and some of the other Tsubamegun friends. While lineups were announced, I was in the underpass getting food and putting on sunscreen and stuff, so imagine my surprise when I emerge back into daylight and see this:


See, I may have mentioned that part of why we went to the Toshitaikou bracketing in the first place was to find out when former Tokyo Big 6 guys would be playing in that tournament, so finding out that former Keio ace Mikinori Katoh was starting the game at Jingu was also a nice added bonus. Mikinori was the last guy to win 30 games in a Big 6 career -- and I was there for his 30th win, against freshman Yuki Saitoh in the Fall 2007 Soukeisen. Which is ironic because Saitoh himself is now up to 27 wins, so if he can get 3 more this coming fall, which is his last chance, he'll be the next one.

And Mikinori just got his first pro win a week or two ago, too.

So I was pretty psyched to see him out there again!

...until Kenji Johjima blasted a home run to left field in the 2nd inning to make it 2-0 in favor of Hanshin.

And it just got worse in the 3rd, what with a Murton 2-RBI single and a Takahiro Arai 2-run homer. 6-0. Katoh came out of the game right after the Arai homer and Shun Takaichi came in.

And I spent the next few innings being pretty bummed out.

Aoki scored a run in the bottom of the 3rd off two wild pitches -- no, really, he singled to right to get on base, moved to 3rd base on a wild pitch to Hiroyasu Tanaka, and then Hiroyasu walked, the 4th ball also being a wild pitch and Aoki scored then. 6-1.

A crazy thing happened in the 4th -- with a runner at 3rd base, Keiichi Hirano hit a bouncy grounder to second. Hiroyasu Tanaka fielded it and threw to first just in time to get Hirano out on a headslide into the bag. But Hirano didn't agree with that and threw his helmet to the ground and got ejected from the game, and a bunch of Hanshin coaches ran out and argued. Wada shoved the umpire and ALSO got ejected, and the call still stood, and both guys were out of the game, Yamato replacing Hirano at 2nd base.

We were lamenting that it wasn't Hiroki Uemoto replacing Hirano, being as we are partial to former Big 6 players, even Waseda ones, and Uemoto's little brother is currently at Meiji anyway. But apparently Saturday was the only game of the weekend where Uemoto DIDN'T make a token appearance.

Anyway, Hanshin continued to happen. Murton singled in the 5th, Arai followed it with a double to put runners at 2nd and 3rd, and then Murton scored when Brazell grounded out to second, and Arai scored when Kanemoto grounded into a rare G4 Unassisted play as Hiroyasu Tanaka was just faster than both Kanemoto and Josh Whitesell to get the ball and get to the bag. So that brought it to 8-1.

My boy Yasushi Iihara hit a ball into the right-field foul pole for a 3-run homer in the bottom of the 5th to cut the lead to 8-4. Hooray!

Takashi Toritani (dude, can you count how many Waseda alums were in this game?) walked to get on base in the 6th, stole second during Yamato's at-bat... and the throw to get him at second was a little off and so he was safe. The stupid thing is, the ball got away from Tanaka at 2nd base and went into the outfield, and NOBODY got it, so Toritani took 3rd as well! Sheesh. He scored on a Murton single a little bit later. 9-4.

I visited the upper outfield again in the 8th inning, and while I was there, Aaron Guiel pinch-hit a doule and scored on a Miyamoto single to make it 9-5.

(And as people were saying that apparently Yasushi did think I look good in a #9 jersey, I pointed out that "See, if they'd had Katoh #16 jerseys, he would have hit a home run today instead!")

Lotte Hanshin starter Yasutomo Kubo almost got the complete-game win, but in the 9th inning with two outs, up around 150 pitches, he gave up a single to Aoki and then another single to Tanaka, and so Mayumi pulled Kubo and put in Kyuji Fujikawa to pitch to Yasushi Iihara... and it took all of 3 pitches to get Iihara to ground out to end the game, sadly.

Matt Murton was 4-for-5 with 3 RBI on the evening, so he was the game hero.

Oh well.

I still enjoyed sitting out at Jingu for the evening. I really DO seem to live there this year, don't I.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Watching the Intercity Baseball Tournament Bracketing Process

I've been busy enough doing baseball stuff this weekend that I haven't had time to write about it.

The most interesting thing I did, at least in terms of "I don't think most foreign baseball fans EVER do this", was that I went to Hitotsubashi Hall in Jimbocho on Saturday afternoon to watch the bracket drawings for the Intercity Baseball Tournament, which is the big amateur league tournament that takes place every year towards the end of summer.

It's basically like Koshien for adults -- all over the country, there are regional tournaments for a few months in the spring and summer to decide which teams will represent the various regions of Japan. Most of the teams will be company teams, which are basically "extracurricular" arms of big corporations such as Toshiba, Honda, Toyota, Mitsubishi, JR, JFE, etc. Some will be club teams. The format is single-elimination, 32 teams at the start, and is played for 10 days at the Tokyo Dome. Most of the teams, especially the ones from the Tokyo area, will bring thousands of supporters (read: company employees) and marching bands and cheerleaders, and half of the fun of going to the game is to see the cheering sections. I've posted about a few of these games in the past.

Anyway, did you ever wonder how they decided the bracket and schedule for the 32 teams that play each other? Me neither, but in the course of two hours of the assembly, I discovered way more than anyone would ever need or want to know about the process. Come along with me as I enlighten you with photos and videos from my journey through Lots Of Brackets.

I think the auditorium seated around 300-400 people. Offhand I'd say it was about half baseball fans, one-quarter team representatives, and one-quarter media, judging by the suits and cameras and whatnot.

I went to this with one of my college baseball friends. Her pet player at Meiji was a kid named Takuma Kobayashi, who graduated last year and now plays for JR Hokkaido. The main reason she wanted to go to this bracket drawing was to know as soon as possible whether she'd be able to come see him play or not.

Before the assembly started, they were showing videos from past Intercity tournaments. It was funny realizing that hey, I actually remember watching a bunch of these games at a few points, as well as seeing some players in older videos like "OMG that's Yohei Kaneko!" and so on.

Finally, at 2pm, the assembly started.

A guy from the Mainichi newspaper made an opening speech. I zoned out for most of it. I just don't speak Corporate very well.

They had an outline of how the procedures would go for the day.

Basically, first they would split into even-numbered and odd-numbered teams for the bracketing by regions, so nearby teams couldn't play each other. I believe odd-numbered teams were supposed to be the away teams for the matches.

Then they would split out teams that were from the same company group (ie, Mitsubishi, JR, NTT, etc)

Then they'd announce the special seeded teams.

Then choose brackets for odd teams -- and then choose brackets for even teams.

Finally, they would choose the order for most of the games to be played in (some were determined by seeds, but they didn't explain that until later).

A list of the different groups of regional representatives that would be called up. I believe these three guys were from Tokai, South Kanto, and Tokyo.

...and all of them chose to be even-numbered games! These are the huge group of guys representing Tohoku, North Kanto, Kanagawa, North Kansai (Kyoto Shiga Nara), Osaka, Wakayama, Hyogo, Chugoku, and Kyushu.

These three represented Hokkaido, Hokushinetsu, and Shikoku.

When the dust cleared, it was determined that this was the regional split for the odd and even games. How this worked out is actually beyond me, given the parity, but it did split into 16 and 16 somehow.

Next they explained how teams from the same company would all automatically be put in different blocks. How they managed to work this out is also beyond me (and since Mitsubishi had 5 teams, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Nagoya and Kyushu Mitsubishi Motors actually are both in the A Block).

Next they announced the special seeded teams and which games they would play in. (The idea being that seeded teams don't have to play each other in the first round.) If you can't read, they are:

1-1 Tokyo Gas
2-1 Sumitomo Metals Kashima
2-2 Toyota
2-3 Honda
3-1 Kazusa Magic
3-2 JR Higashinihon
3-3 JFE Higashinihon
4-3 Hitachi Seisakusho
5-3 Toshiba
6-3 NTT Higashinihon

Incase it isn't obvious why they have these specific games, it's for the convenience of these teams to bring their fans and employees to the games outside of normal working hours, and thus draw the biggest audiences. The 1st day of the tournament is Friday August 27, so the first game is at 6:30pm then. The 2nd and 3rd days are weekend days, and then the 4-6 days are Monday-Wednesday, thus being seeded for the 3rd game of the day, which starts at 6pm, means they can make employees work a full day before coming to the Tokyo Dome to work "overtime" cheering for the company team. Ahem.

To be fair, as a normal working baseball fan, I also would of course prefer to go to those later games, although I probably won't be able to make many of the first round games anyway because I'm hoping to go to Shikoku for a weekend at the end of August.

Anyway, they called up guys after that to choose which blocks they were going to be in. There was a ridiculous fanfare they played for every team. Even though I took this video a LOT later in the drawing, it should give you an example of what this procedure was like:

Usually they'd have all the guys for a region come up at the same time and pick their group letters together, though this particular video was of Toyota, which for some reason came up by themselves.

JR Hokkaido representative. (I'm guessing this guy is a player.)

Toshiba representative.

The people in the region would choose to be either in the A, B, C, or D block. After they made their choice, they had to go sit down in a particular row of the seats in the back for their block.

So here is the whole stage, with the 16 guys sitting on the right getting ready to draw the ACTUAL games they'd be playing, block by block.

So here are the 4 dudes for the Odd-Numbered A Block teams, JR Hokkaido, Nippon Paper Ishinomaki, Hakuwa Victories, and Kyushu Mitsubishi Motors.

First they chose cards that would denote which order they would choose game slots in, 1, 2, 3, 4. Then they actually chose the game slots...

...and these were the results.

Repeat for the Odd B-Guys, Toshiba, Nihon Seimei, Shin-Nippon Seitetsu Hirobata and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Hiroshima.

Odd C-Block: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Yokohama, NTT Nishinihon, Yamato Takada Club, and JR Shikoku.

The Odd D-Block: 77 Bank, Nippon Shinyaku, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Kobe, and JR Kyushu.

What it looked like when these first 16 guys had chosen their games.

Minami-Kanto group comes up, finishing with JFE Higashinihon. (I took the shot of them with the team because I'm a fan of several of their players.)

So here is another video -- of the game choosing among the B-Block of the Even-Numbered Games:

B was JR Higashinihon, JFE Higashinihon, Toho Gas, and Tokai Rika. This was largely determined by many people to be a pretty tough bracket this year (kind of a tossup between B and D, if you ask me). As you can hear in the video, several people laugh when Tokai Rika draws Toshiba as their opponents, for example.

A-Block results with all of the games drawn.

The Even D-Block guys get up to finish out the Hell Bracket.

Here is what it looked like when all 32 teams had drawn their game slots.

You'd think this would be finished now, right? And they'd just proceed that the first game started at the left, and the schedule went onwards like that, right?


Remember, seeds were seeded to specific games. So first they filled those in at the top...

...and then they had people come up and choose the REST of their slots. So this is what the entire schedule looked like when it was done. Just because you are in a specific bracket doesn't mean you will be playing anywhere near the other teams in your bracket. Also, some teams have to play on 2 days of rest between their first two games, when others have a week. It's kind of crazy.

Several people left the hall at this point, once the full bracket was determined...

...but we stuck around to hear an interview they did with a few of the managers -- the guys from JR Kyushu, Vitalnet, Nippon Express, and Ishinomaki.

At pretty much exactly 4pm they said "Okay, that's all the time we have! Ceremony over! See you all at the Tokyo Dome next month!" and kicked us out of the room.

On the way out we saw these awesome bears they had made for every team, that they were giving to the team representatives. About 1/3 of them were gone by then, but there were still several adorable ones representing teams I want to see. Awwww.

And for the record, they also gave a present to people who attended the bracketing...

...a JABA pinbadge and solar-powered blinking keychain/cellstrap thingy. I don't know if I'll ever actually use mine, but it's still a kind of neat souvenir. (And yes, that is my hand-written bracket that I was making as they were drawing teams.)

There isn't a lot of info about the Toshitaikou out there in English, but here is the JABA site about it. I'll certainly be going to a bunch of the games, though that Sept 4-5 weekend is going to be TOUGH to choose what baseball to watch, dang.

Here is a list of on-loan players, ie, guys whose teams didn't make it into the tournament so they will be playing for some teams that did make it. To me the most notable is former Toyodai infielder Takuya Tsukuura, now playing for Sega Sammy, but in this tournament he'll be on JR Higashinihon's team.

Here is a PDF of the brackets (Japanese)

Or here, I'll just type it into English:

1-1 NTT Nishinihon @ Tokyo Gas
2-1 Kyushu Mitsubishi Motors @ Sumitomo Metals Kashima
2-2 Toyota @ Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Kobe
2-3 JR Shikoku @ Honda
3-1 Hakuwa Victories @ Kazusa Magic
3-2 JR Higashinihon @ Nihon Seimei
3-3 Shin-Nippon Seitetsu Hirobata @ JFE Higashinihon
4-1 Nippon Shinyaku @ Nippon Express
4-2 Nippon Paper Ishinomaki @ Yamaha
4-3 JR Kyushu @ Hitachi Seisakusho
5-1 JR Hokkaido @ Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Nagoya
5-2 Oji Paper @ Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Yokohama
5-3 Toshiba @ Tokai Rika
6-1 Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Hiroshima @ Toho Gas
6-2 Yamato Takada Club @ Vitalnet
6-3 77 Bank @ NTT Higashinihon

Day 1 is August 27th, Day 6 is September 1. Each day, Game 1 is at 10:30am, Game 2 at 2pm, Game 3 is at 6pm.

Should be a lot of fun. I'm hoping to go to most of Day 5, and then some of the later evening games during the week (work starts on September 1 for me again), and the weekend will depend on which teams make it. I really want to see Toshiba, Toyota, JFE Higashinihon, and JR Higashinihon... they all have former players I really liked in Tokyo Big 6, as do other teams. I also want to see Honda -- especially now that Hisayoshi Chono isn't on the team anymore, I can actually cheer for them without holding back. Yay!

BTW, I hope people find this kind of post actually interesting/informative. I sometimes have no clue if this kind of thing is even worth blogging about.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Game 52: Fighters vs. Lions @ Seibu Dump - Salaryman Night

So much for another series win.

For the third day in a row, I journeyed out to Tokorozawa to see the Fighters take on the Seibu Lions on Thursday. I was pretty wiped out after the first two games, but I knew Thursday was Salaryman Night and we'd go play catch on the field, so I really wanted to come to the game just for that purpose.

Mitsuo Yoshikawa was starting for the Fighters, and Masamitsu Hirano for the Lions. And rather than summarize the game myself, I'm going to defer to the lovely and talented Jason Coskrey, who did a better job of it than I could. I didn't even realize Hirano's win was the first one he'd had in two years.

Though I will add one funny anecdote of my own: see, we all brought gloves and softballs for Salaryman Night. I'd spent the first inning on the train, then the second and third innings, I spent in the infield eating dinner. I came back to the outfield for the 4th inning, and was already kind of tired and antsy, so as a joke, right before Ryo Sakata came up to bat, I got out my glove like "Cmon, hit one here, I'm bored!"

Not a minute later he did exactly that. No joke. It bounced about 10 feet in front of me, if I had actually been quicker I could have maybe gotten up and snagged it, instead it bounced to the back of the section.

Everyone was like "Dude, that was scary. You ought to do it for the Fighters batters instead, though."

So I tried, but it obviously didn't work as the Lions won 7-0. There was another home run by Masahiro Abe, and then a big horrible 8th inning where Hideki Sunaga got smacked around by the Lions as well.

I forgot to mention that Jose Fernandez is apparently back in Japan with the Lions again. On Wednesday, they had a "Fernandez" in the order and I was like "Who?" and then when I saw his face on the board, I was pretty surprised. He went 0-for-4 that first day, but this time managed two hits and two RBIs, so I guess they made him a game hero as a welcome-back gesture or something. I dunno:

This time I took a few other pictures from the game. They occasionally showed profiles of various Taiheiyo Club Lions players between innings. I knew a few of them but largely I had no clue who they were, like these guys:

Katsutoshi Miyadera, catcher, from Ebara HS and Toyo University. I saw Ebara play the other day but didn't know he was an alum until I just looked it up. He played for the Giants for a few years before joining the Lions.

Tamotsu Nagai, who apparently redid his arm motion to become a lefty sidearm/submarine reliever for most of his career.

Screen from Bokura no Akogare Lions (I posted the video the day before -- though, they actually played different versions of the song each day...)

Okay, and the rest of this is from Salaryman Night. Quite frankly, when your team gets pounded like ours does, there isn't much to say about the game anyway. I suppose the only other relevant thing I could point out is the Fighters starting lineup, which was:

1. Kensuke 2b
2. Tsuruoka c
3. Inaba dh
4. Koyano 1b
5. Itoi cf
6. Kaneko ss
7. Masayoshi Katoh 3b
8. Yoh rf
9. Kazuya Murata lf

because Hichori is out and Shinji is out and Inaba hasn't been playing the outfield. Kind of crazy, really.

Anyway, so, we went to line up for Salaryman Night almost as soon as the game ended...

Here we are waiting for them to let us on the field.

On the field itself, lots of people playing catch.

"Team 52" team photo. We took one last year too but that time we couldn't get an event sign, and it wasn't with our gloves then either.

I wanted a photo under the Salaryman night board.

So actually, I played catch for about 30-40 minutes having not really thrown in months -- and I was throwing with guys in my group, so we were standing pretty far apart, relatively. At first I could barely actually throw the ball all the way across, and kept missing to the left or right, though about 15 minutes in I started getting into a groove and actually throwing relatively well. I say "relatively" because I know I don't throw that hard, of course, but at least I could consistently get the ball across the split and to my throwing partner with SOME zing on it, which is no small feat. Infact, the other women in our group, who mostly just sat and hung out watching, were like "よく頑張った!" because they were sort of astounded I just threw for the entire time we were out there. It's just... I don't get to play catch in Japan much at all, so I wanted to take advantage of the entire time that I had.

But then the next day my arm was killing me, which is part of why it took so long to finish this entry, it actually hurt to type on Friday.

And on a final note, as I mentioned, I spent the 2nd and 3rd innings in the infield eating dinner. What did I have? I had KFC, because the miso katsu stand is gone and the rest of the options seriously didn't look all that much more appetizing than the stuff I'd passed on outside. I know that the TRUE infield has some tasty stuff -- the new food court levels that they built with the Matsuzaka money. But the infield unreserved area has very little to offer, although they do have the ramen and curry stands, which are great when it's COLD outside... not so much in the summer.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Game Report: Fighters vs. Lions @ Seibu Dump: Sayonara E4

Wow, Wednesday was quite a day for Kensuke Tanaka.

First, he was voted onto the Pacific League All-Star Team by the Plus One Vote. Which makes sense -- he's currently the batting leader in the PL and well, he's just that good.

Then, he led off the Lions-Fighters game by walking, and scored the first run for the Fighters on a Koyano sac fly -- and an inning later he had an RBI single to drive in the second run for the Fighters.

He went 2-for-3 for the day with two walks, and increased his league-leading batting average to .361...

...but then in the 9th inning it all fell apart. The game was tied 2-2 (Lions scored on a Hirao RBI double and Yoshihito Ishii solo home run). Kensuke led off the 9th with a walk... and got caught stealing when Konta struck out. This pretty much killed the Fighters offense, despite that they still managed to load the bases after that.

Then in the bottom of the 9th, with the bases loaded and the game still tied, a grounder came to second base, the Fighters fans all got excited because it was sure to be a double play, and then... and then Kensuke DROPPED THE BALL?!!? By the time he recovered it, it was too late to even make the force out at home and the Lions won on a sayonara error.

We were joking that Kensuke should have been the game hero for either side, but the Lions game hero was Yoshihito Ishii for his home run:

Some other stuff about this game...

...there were a LOT of batters hit by pitches. 3 on each side. Whether they were on purpose or not isn't clear to me, but it is still an awful lot. Hisashi Takayama, Hiroyuki Nakajima, and Ryo Sakata were all hit on the Lions, and Hichori Morimoto, Dai-Kan Yoh, and Atsunori Inaba were hit on the Fighters. Hichori's was in the first inning and he hurt his hand bunting, and came out of the game... apparently his finger is broken, although they expect him to only be out for a few weeks, it was only a small fracture. Why this keeps happening to Hichori is beyond me. Yoh had to come out of the game too, but he was just bruised pretty badly, apparently.

Pitchers by both teams:
Fighters - Tomoya Yagi started, went 5 innings, and was followed by Ryo Sakakibara, Yoshinori Tateyama, Naoki Miyanishi, and Hisashi Takeda, who is supposed to be our closer, but makes everyone really nervous when he comes into a game in a situation like the one here, and sure enough, he lost.

Lions: Ryoma Nogami started, was taken out after 4.2 innings for some reason, then Atsushi Okamoto pitched 2.1 innings, followed by Shuichiro Osada and Brian Sikorski. Sikorski got the win, for basically striking out Tsuboi with the bases loaded in the top of the 9th while the Lions went on to win on that sayonara error.

(Sikorski warming up, shown on the big screen)

Oh, and as I mentioned, the Lions have been using a team song from the Taiheiyo Club Lions days in the 1970's for their pre-game and 7th inning stuff, so Wednesday I was prepared with my camera and took a video of the song. It's called "Bokura no Akogare Lions" (basically "Our Wonderful Lions") and pretty much completely comes from the same mold as Moeyo Dragons...

In case you can actually catch the line which references a player named Alou, that is, for the record, Matty Alou, who played for the Lions for 3 years in the 1970's.

I don't have that much else to say about this game from the fan side of things. The most amusing moment for us was probably when one of the Fighters ouendan drummers hit the drum so hard the mallot end (not sure what you call it) went flying and they had to go into the fans to search for it.

This time my dinner was omusoba, from a different cart closer to the station. It was again 600 yen, and not really all that great -- basically it was a carton of yakisoba with a thin dry fried egg over it, and unfortunately they also put in mayonnaise and ginger, which I hadn't noticed before buying it. Dislike.

This is going to sound funny, but I actually pre-bought my ticket for Thursday as infield unreserved instead of outfield unreserved, mainly so I have a few more options for food within the stadium, being as I decided the outside options are pretty lousy, and there's really only one food stand in the visitor outfield section, which sells curry and a bunch of breaded fried stuff that they keep under a heat lamp. I don't think I can go all the way to the fancy-schmancy eateries that were built with the stadium renovation, but I know I can at least get to KFC if nothing else appetizing is out there.

And I guess if nothing else I can wander over to the bullpen, too.

So, onwards to Thursday, where Masamitsu Hirano and Mitsuo Yoshikawa battle it out to see who takes the series. Sadly since the Fighters lost and the Hawks won, we are back in 4th place... but it's oh so close!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Game Report: Fighters vs. Lions @ Seibu Dump - Yoh, What's Up?

This week the Lions are doing a "Lions Classic" series where they wear throwback uniforms made to look like their old mid-1970's uniforms, when the team was known as the Taiheiyo Club Lions. I arrived at the stadium about 15 minutes late for the Tuesday night game, which is the best I can do on a weekday, and was greeted by a display of some old Lions uniforms and club history photos from that era:

And they had some cutouts of players around the stadium. Wakui was behind the Fighters cheering section:

The players were wearing these uniforms and even the Seibu fans were decked out in red for a change instead of blue. When I entered the stadium, I was given a reprinting of a newspaper page from 1974 when Taiheiyo was actually in first place.

As expected for a weekday game, this was relatively sparsely attended, so people were spread out all over in the outfield turf, and the Fighters half of the infield was pretty much empty.

But we had a pretty good atmosphere anyway -- lots of noise and lots of reason to make lots of noise.

Toshiyuki Yanuki started for the Fighters, and Ming-Chieh Hsu started for the Lions. After getting omurice for dinner, I came into the stadium just in time to see Dee Brown strike out to start off the bottom of the 2nd inning, with the score tied at 0-0.

(In case you are wondering, I got it from that omurice van with the bizarre Engrish all over it right outside the dome. I'd seen that place for years but never tried it, and this seemed like as good a time as any, since the miso katsu van has disappeared. My verdict is that for 600 yen it may very well be one of the better options for food at the Seibu Dome -- my demiglace-sauce omurice was quite tasty and filling. HOWEVER, I do not recommend it if you are in a hurry, as it took the entirety of the top of the 2nd inning to get.)

Yasuyuki Kataoka hit a home run to left field in the 3rd inning to make it 1-0 and strike fear into the heart of Fighters players who are used to being beaten down.

But that only lasted a little while -- in the top of the 4th, Inaba led off with a single to center, and then Koyano grounded one up the 3rd-base line... the fielders let it roll... and it stopped fair. Ha! Itoi bunted the guys up a base. Sadly, Tsuboi struck out, but Dai-Kan Yoh hit a clean single to left that scored Inaba and Koyano to make it 2-1.

Bizarrely, after that inning, we were all standing up to do a Yoh yell -- it's customary for us, after an inning where the Fighters scored, to yell the name of a player who hit an RBI until they wave or bow or somehow acknowledge us. But he never came out. Even weirder, nobody seemed to notice -- Nakajima came to the plate and the announcer announced him and everything, and yet THERE WAS NO RIGHT-FIELDER! WTF! So then they paused the game and said to please wait, though I couldn't quite catch what the problem was, though it didn't sound like an injury or anything. Eventually Yoh DID come out, but by that point all we could do was one shout of "YOH DAI-KAN!!!" and he waved and then the inning started.

Craziness continued to rule the day in the 5th inning as Kaneko led off with a normal single, and then Kensuke Tanaka grounded into what looked like it'd be a double play, except Yoshihito Ishii threw to second and somehow the ball got away from Nakajima there and into the outfield, so no force and no double play. Hichori was supposed to bunt the guys up but instead Ishii made up for his error by charging the ball and getting Kaneko out at third on the force. Inaba fouled out, but then Koyano hit this shot that looked like it was coming right for us in right field. It didn't clear the wall, but it did hit the wall for a double, scoring Kensuke and Hichori. 4-1. Itoi followed that with a single to left that scored Koyano, 5-1. He stole second and Tsuboi walked, but that was it.

Yanuki lasted 4 innings and Hsu 6. Shota Takekuma came out to pitch the top of the 7th... and the first thing he did was walk Hichori. Inaba hit a double to right much like Koyano's, against the wall and over the fielders, though Hichori only made it to third. Itoi was able to hit a sac fly to center to score Hichori and continue piling on, 6-1.

They played a really old Lions song for the Lucky 7 -- I'm hoping to get a video of it tomorrow. It was awesome. Some of the throwback touches have been really nice, including speeches on the video display between innings from players of the Taiheiyo era.

Anyway, former Baystars lefty Yoshihiro Doi pitched the top of the 9th for Seibu, and as if things weren't already lopsided enough (they weren't!), he gave up a one-out single to Koyano, who moved up on an Itoi groundout. Doi then hit Atsushi Ugumori in the shoulder with a pitch. With two out, Yoh seemed to ground out to short, a force at second... but Ugumori, sliding in, knocked the ball out of the fielder's glove (or he dropped it, I couldn't tell), and so players were safe all around. Shinya Tsuruoka hit a double to left and everyone else on base scored, bringing the total to 9-1.

Meanwhile, the Fighters pitching after Yanuki left, of 2 innings by Ryo Sakakibara, and 1 each for Yoshinori Tateyama, Yuya Ishii, and Hideki Sunaga (!!), held the Lions down just fine, and the Fighters won the game.

Dai-Kan Yoh was the game hero:

And then we all had to gather up at the top of the field to do our postgame cheering:

Because apparently this was "Woman's night", which is just like Salaryman Night, except for women. Women could try to hit home runs, and take fielding practice, and there was also a section of the outfield for playing catch (the rule being each pair had to be 2 women, or 1 woman and a guy). They wanted everyone to clear out as much of the stadium as possible so they could deal with the ensuing chaos on the field.

(woman's night sign -- what sucks is that the Japanese spelling of Woman is actually "ooman", so it is always weird to hear people saying "Ooman Nighto")

You maybe can't tell, but those huge lines are people lining up to either take fielding practice or hit home runs. I'm not really sure exactly how it worked, though at Salaryman Night they usually have some former Lions player like Taisei Takagi or Tatsuya Ozeki hitting grounders for it, which is why people have to wait so long.

I didn't bother doing this event because 1) I was exhausted and 2) my group of friends was mostly guys, so instead we're going to go play catch on the field on Thursday for Salaryman Night.

I did, however, stop for a second to get a photo with the seasonal throwback cutouts of Lions players near the train station:


Anyway, I will be back at the Seibu Dome for both Wednesday and Thursday's games. See you there!