Sunday, November 20, 2011

Your 2011 Japan Series Champions, the Hawks

But it's 6:30am here in Seattle, so I'm going to sleep in a bit. Unlike the last time I was watching a Japan Series game in the US (the 2006 Fighters-Dragons series), you have plenty of other places to learn about what happened during the game in English these days, so you should go take a look at them.

Personally, I really wanted this series to go to seven games, so I'm happy for that, at least. I thought it was pretty silly of the Dragons to let Ochiai go as manager, in the midst of what is clearly the most successful run in franchise history. (The Dragons were in the Series in 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010, and 2011, although they only won it in 2007.) His contract was up at the end of October, so the Dragons were paying him a million yen a day for the postseason.

Curiously, the last time the Hawks won the Japan Series was in 2003 against the Tigers, and in that series the home team won every game. This time, the home team lost every game until the final game, and even funnier, four games were decided by 2-1 scores (game 1, 2, 4, and 6, with the Dragons winning 3 of those), and the other 3 games were shutouts.

As a primary Pacific League fan, the Hawks are a very frustrating team to go up against in recent years, as they have a pitching staff to die for and a fairly stacked lineup as well. And it was particularly heartbreaking to see the Fighters fall behind them this year. So I suppose I was pulling for Chunichi in this series, but when things happen like Tanishige going 0-for-23, there's only so much you can do.

Kokubo as the MVP was a little bit odd (it felt like it really should have been one of the pitchers, didn't it?) but it was kind of amusing when they pointed out to him during the interview that he, at the age of 40, had ousted his manager Akiyama from the oldest Japan Series MVP, as a 37-year-old Akiyama had gotten that award in 1999 when the Hawks beat Chunichi then. (And at that time Kokubo and Matsunaka were a LOT younger! It was definitely weird watching Matsunaka hobble home and flop onto home plate for the 2nd run of the game tonight, let's just put it that way.)

Anyway, the Jingu Taikai is in a few days, and then after that is the month of fan festivals and rookie unveiling events and holiday parties, and then in January starts rookie training, and February is spring training... Japan is nice in that baseball season never *truly* ends, if you're a crazy diehard fan. Which makes it all the more sad to me that I'm not there anymore.

(2 weeks until I move to San Francisco!)