Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Photopost: Seibu vs. Baystars 1.5-gun

So, last Sunday, March 20, I decided I was going to go to a ni-gun game of some sort. The easy option would have been the Marines-Swallows at Lotte Urawa, which is an hour from me by bicycle, or 25 minutes from me by train and walking. The "hard" option would be Yokosuka Stadium for the Baystars-Lions, which is more like 1.5-2 hours from me by train and walking. However, I'd heard that the Baystars were getting practice time for their ichi-gun players in the ni-gun games, so I could see Hichori! Plus I'd never seen a game at Yokosuka before, plus I was kinda hoping to meet Takayuki Makka and Taketora Anzai again and give them some Seattle omiyage because of how nice they were to me back in January. (Unfortunately, I didn't, so it's unlikely I will at all, but it's the thought that counts, maybe?)

Anyway, there's really kind of 2 parts to this photopost. The first is more of interest to people who are all about the earthquake and the charity things people are doing to help, so I'll cover that.

Before the game, there was a table set up outside the stadium. The Searex mascot Reck, who has apparently kept his job despite the Searex ceasing to exist as a moniker, was out at the table, along with a few staff who had the donation boxes. I bought my ticket to the game for 1000 yen and then went up and put 1000 yen into their donation box. I received a Reck postcard that was basically a cute "Come cheer for the ni-gun team in 2011!" as well as a "Play for Nippon" business card which may or may not be a typo. But the back of the card says "This is a receipt that you donated money to help the Tohoku earthquake victims," and also says "Bring this card to Yokohama Stadium and get a 300 yen discount off your game ticket."

The Yokohama Baystars are clearly DOING IT RIGHT.

Here's the donation table out front.

Me with Reck!

A whiteboard with the starting lineups, as well as information about which ni-gun games are being moved from night games to day games to conserve power. (They didn't actually have the lineups on the scoreboard, maybe also to conserve power?)

So that was before the game.

During the game, I'm not making this up, one of the women I was sitting with tagged another one of her friends who's a huge Takayuki Makka fan (even moreso than I am now), and was like "I just read Daisuke Miura's blog and he is going to be at the Sotetsu Yokohama Station from 2:30pm collecting donations along with a bunch of other players and look there's Makka and Ejiri and...!!!!!" So two of the other women looked up the train info and said "We can get there in about 29 minutes! Let's run!"

It was basically a bunch of guys who weren't going to be playing in the ni-gun game, and since there's no ichi-gun games or anything yet, they basically worked out in the morning and then went to collect donations in the afternoon.

(I think every day since then Miura's posted a "Here's where I'll be today collecting donations and here's the other Baystars players I've managed to drag with me. Come say hi and give money to charity!")

After the game, the ENTIRE BAYSTARS TEAM came out with donation boxes and were swarmed by the 1500 or so fans who were there! The players also had those "Play for Japan" business cards so the more popular players got TOTALLY swamped by people wanting to throw money into their box in order to get a card from that particular player, not that there is anything different about any of the cards. Players weren't signing things or taking photos or anything, just basically saying "Please help out with a donation," or saying thank you and whatnot to people who did put in donations; I saw some people shake hands, but that was about it.

Hichori was clearly not only the most popular but he was also the most engaging with people; I think the two biggest swarms of people basically were going for Hichori and for Shuichi Murata, who yes, had played in the game that afternoon. Some of the lesser-known players looked kinda sad that nobody was coming up to them. Keijiro Matsumoto looked distinctly almost like "WTF am I doing here," although Takeshi Hosoyamada was standing next to him with his usual easygoing smile like "Thank you for your help!" to everyone. (I later commented on this to a Waseda friend of mine, who said "Keijiro can be shy. I don't think he realizes that he comes off as so standoffish. I'll go complain to his brother.")

And Hichori even made a speech to address the crowd and thank everyone, reiterating how important it is for everyone to band together in a tough time and help each other out.

Team members being swamped by fans.

Shuichi Murata in the middle (I believe the other two are Shinji Niinuma and Yoshiyuki Kuwahara)


Hichori makes a speech to the crowd and the press.

As for the game itself... well... these were the starting lineups:

Seibu Yokohama
----- --------
Asamura, 1B Watanabe Naoto, 2B
Kumashiro, CF Ishikawa, SS
Akiyama, RF Kinjoh, LF
Gotoh, DH Murata, 3B
Abe, 3B Yoshimura, LF
Kurose, 2B Ikki, DH
Sakata, LF Hichori, CF
Takeno, C Tsutsugoh, 1B
Hayashizaki, SS Takeyama, C

Nakazaki, P Ohka, P

Notice that the Baystars lineup is pretty much completely ichi-gun players, but the Seibu one is clearly ni-gun? Heck, 3 of those Lions players (Akiyama, Hayashizaki, Kumashiro) were just drafted last fall.

To be fair, by the 5th inning the Baystars team out there was mostly ni-gun, but still.

The amusing thing, really, is that the Baystars still lost.

The first batter of the game, Hideto Asamura, singled off of Tomokazu Ohka, was bunted up, advanced on a groundout, and then scored on a double by Taketoshi Gotoh, to make it 1-0. Then in the 5th inning Tatsuya Takeno led off with a double, was bunted up by Ryo Hayashizaki, and scored on a single by Asamura, to make it 2-0. (Though Asamura was subsequently and amusingly picked off first.)

Lefty Yuta Nakazaki started for the Lions and pitched 5 decent innings, and then Ryohei Fujiwara and Tomoki Hoshino and Yosuke Okamoto held the Baystars scoreless for the next 3 innings, so it was still 2-0 going into the bottom of the 9th. Tetsuya Iwasaki took the mound for Seibu. He has a BIZARRE motion, I'm not sure I ever remember seeing him pitch in person before. But basically he has a hitch in his motion where he kinda crouches and kicks out backwards before stretching forwards. Kinda like this:

Anyway, so Yuta Naitoh grounded out, Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh struck out. People packed up their stuff to go home, but Shingo Takeyama singled to right. Kazuya Fujita then grounded to first... except... the ball went right through Asamura into right field for an error! Takeyama made it to third and Fujita ended up on 2nd. And then Junya Ohhara, who the people around me were cheering "J! J! J!" for -- there were two Ohhara's drafted this fall, the other being pitcher Shinji, so they've apparently been nicknamed "S" and "J" -- anyway, "J" hit a clean double to left, scoring Takeyama and Fujita to make it 2-2. Iwasaki intentionally walked Keijiro Matsumoto after that, and struck out Shotaro Ide to end the inning.

We thought there'd be no extra innings thanks to the recent rulings, but it seems that they went ahead with it anyway (after all, Yokosuka stadium uses like ZERO power). So, there was extra innings. Yataro Sakamoto took the mound for the Lions. Shoma Satoh took the mound for the Baystars. (After 7 innings of Ohka, Takehiro Fukuda and Shun Yamaguchi each threw an inning.) And the 10th inning was scoreless.

Suguru Matsuyama, another former Fighter, and alum of Yokohama Shokodai HS, and a pretty nice kid as well, took the mound for the top of the 11th, and immediately gave up 4 hits in a row to Akiyama, Gotoh, Takuya Hara, and Kurose, and that was the game pretty much and the Lions won the game 4-2.

Here's some photos. They kinda suck, probably because I was way in the back and because my lens has a lot of crap in it. I ended up replacing it tonight with another cheap zoom lens. Who knows if it'll help.

Yuki Yoshimura

Tatsuya Takeno

Lions starter Yuta Nakazaki


Baystars starter Tomokazu Ohka

Shogo Akiyama, from Hachinohe University

Masahiro Abe can hit

Shuichi Murata can hit

Ryo Hayashizaki can bunt

Keijiro Matsumoto can pout

Tomoki Hoshino can be left-handed

Shingo Takeyama can accidentally foul a ball into his own head

"J" Ohhara can throw a bat

Takehiro Fukuda can throw a ball

Shun Yamaguchi

Shoma Satoh

Yataro Sakamoto

Final score.


Yokosuka Stadium

My "tourist shot" so I can collect this stadium too

This one is kinda hard to explain but basically, whenever pitching coach Takeo Kawamura came out to the mound, this one dude a few rows ahead of us would yell "KAWAMURA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" really loud. Kawamura is a former Baystars player and was pretty popular. And so these two guys were waving these huge fans out in the stands and yelling "KAWAMURA!!!!!!!! NICE COACHING!!!!!" every time there was a pitching change. It was amusing, I guess. The guy also started yelling a lot of the players' names too. "TAKEYAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"


This game was crazy for me because I showed up by myself, the stadium was pretty full, so I ended up taking a seat on the Seibu side. But due to the way the stadium is with the fences, I kept climbing to the back of the stands to go take photos of stuff going on on the field. After an inning or so I walked over to the Baystars side anyway, so I could take photos of right-handed batters (and Nakazaki the lefty pitcher) from the proper side.

I was hanging out in back on the Baystars side when a lady comes up to me like "Hey! Do you remember me?" I didn't. But I'm figuring... well... she had to be someone from that infamous day at Baystars Kyujo, so despite that no, I did not recognize her face, I said "Yeah! I met you at Baystars Kyujo in January?" and she said "Yeah! The day that we all met Kagami! You were so happy!"

So she invited me to come sit with her. Her group was in a FANTASTIC set of seats with a great view of the field for taking photos. Plus they kept calling out to random friends of theirs who walked by like "This is that girl we told you about, the big Kagami fan! She came BACK to Japan! Isn't that amazing?"

I guess sometimes the stupid things I do end up having some positive repercussions after all.


Anonymous said...

Hi, Deanna.
First of all, wonderful blog and beautiful photos.

I think I have seen You today at Koshien while watching NHK TV match between Yokohama and Hasami!
Smiling face and your camera in hand. Maybe you were behind the Yokohama's bench, isn't?


Deanna said...

Probably! Wearing a blue baseball cap? I was in the second row behind the 1st base dugout for all 3 games. Going to hopefully be around the same place tomorrow for at least the Nichidai Sanko game (not sure if I'll stay for all 3 or not tomorrow)

westbaystars said...

"Murata can hit"? That one looks like a foul ball. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Blue baseball cap? Uhm, maybe...
Anyway, try to see you on NHK also tomorrow morning! XD


Anonymous said...

Superb post!

I had a nice chat with Hichori the other day, perfect when I was struggling for a story--and Shinji Niinuma the day before that.

Some great guys on the BayStars. Even Ishikawa, whom I managed to annoy with my persistent questions on the subject of learning to switch-hit last year, was positive and friendly.

Anyone notice how much weight Kinjo has lost? The gut is gone!

Jim Allen

Robert Kiyoshi Shadlow said...

Hello Deanna, ThanQ for your posts- great narratives and photos. May I use some of your pics for my blogspot? Just wanted to show one with donation efforts for the earthquake/tsunami relief.
Robert Kiyoshi Shadlow

Deanna said...

Sure, especially if you credit me and give me a link to your blog entry I'd be really happy!

elle said...

long time reader of your blog, but i never comment. thank you for the Hichori updates. and thank you for all the amazing photos and insight you provide.

Deanna said...

I wish I had more Hichori updates -- but I'll be leaving Japan soon, and he's now playing practice games so unlikely to be at any more minor league :(