Tuesday, April 7, 2009
04/04 Nagoya Opening Weekend Day 2: The Good and the Bad
Hello once again everyone. I hope you are all enjoying the start of the 2009 baseball season here in Japan. After a really bad start to the season on Friday, I decided to branch out so to speak during my stay here in Nagoya. I had read on the Chunichi site that the minor league squad was hosting an exhibition match against the Toyota Motor Company. You can get more information about Toyota's team here if you are interested (web page is in Japanese only of course). But anyways, I decided to check it out as I had never been to Nagoya Kyujyo before. I've got to tell you that this was a great experience and going to Nagoya Kyujyo was easily the highlight of my trip. When I initially got to the stadium, I was amazed at it's location. Nagoya Kyujyo is located in a more residential area located near Otobashi station on the Tokaido Line (Jr Tokai) which is one stop from Nagoya station. I found it hard to believe that Chunichi played home games here for over 40 years.
Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) at the park across the street from the ballpark.
The field from behind the net.
View of the 3rd base side.
View of the 1st base side.
The game itself was very good despite rainy weather that started around the 5th inning or so. Most people expected Chunichi to win (and they did), but it wasn't as easy of a victory as most thought it would be as Toyota made Chunichi work to earn the victory. The starting pitchers for the day were Katsutoshi Satake for Toyota and Soma Yamauchi for Chunichi.
Toyota Starter Katsutoshi Satake
Chunichi Starter Soma Yamauchi warming up before the game.
Toyota wasted no time getting on the board in the top of the 1st when Toyota center fielder Sho Aranami (who is from Kanagawa and attended Yokohama High School yeah!!) doubled on the 2nd pitch he saw to lead off the game. After he advanced to third on a groundout, shortstop Takashi Ogino hit a sacrifice fly to center to make it 1-0 Toyota.
And after that Toyota held Chunichi scoreless for the next few innings by showing some great fundamental baseball. But alas, it didn't last as Chunichi scored their first run in the bottom of the 4th. Takehiro Donoue led off the bottom of the 4th with a double to center. Then, due to the miscalculation (bad timing) of shortstop Takashi Ogino, Byung-Gyu Lee hit a double to center to score Donoue and tie the game at 1 a piece. Ogino timed his jump wrong and as a result, the ball went over his head for a hit.
Oh yeah, it was in the bottom of the 3rd when this guy came over and sat right in front of me:
So, Lee was just sitting and watching the game and I was taking score when these 2 really attractive young women came and sat down right beside me. They were obviously drooling over Lee and eventually started whispering back to one another and giggling. They caught Lee's attention and he turned around and sort of chuckled. Then, one of the women turns to me while I was taking score and says: "Oh, that's so awesome. You know all this baseball stuff and you're writing it down in English." Lee then looks at me and points his head towards them as if to say: "Looks like you've got some fans of your own." The other women asked me why I was taking score. And I told here that this is what I like to do and that I was in town on vacation to support my baseball team (Yokohama) and that I write a blog as a hobby and whatnot. They thought that was neat and as the inning ended, the girls giggled again and went back to their seats as Lee went back into the dugout. And before anyone asks, NO, I did not get a picture of the women so don't ask.
Back to the game, Toyota charged back in the top of the 5th to take the lead again after an RBI single with one on by my new favorite Toyota player Sho Aranami. But Chunichi scored 1 in the bottom of the 7th when Naomichi Donoue singled and then Hiroki Nakagawa doubled to center to tie the game up at 2 a piece. And finally, Chunichi finally put Toyota away when Kyohei Iwasaki and Isei Nakamura singled and Takehiro Donoue walked to load the bases and Hidenori Kuramoto hit a sac fly to center to give the Dragons a 3-2 lead and that's where the game ended up.
Both teams played a great solid game game in rainy weather and it was well worth it and plus the game was also free admission so that's another plus as well. I thought Toyota had a decent chance of pulling off an upset but in the end Chunichi came back and won the game as most everyone expected. Also, during the game the resident Chunichi ouendan (cheer group) a.k.a. two guys who were singing Chunichi ouenka (cheer songs) for the entire game sang "Happy Birthday" to shortstop Kyohei Iwasaki as it was his birthday so that was a nice little treat too.
And as always when I go to a minor league stadium, I never come away empty handed. Before the game, I was able to ask Chunichi infielder Tomas De La Rosa if he could throw me a ball. I got a few blank stares from people also as I was talking to De La Rosa entirely in Spanish and I guess that people don't really hear Spanish that often so I kind of had to tell some people that I can speak Spanish in addition to English and Japanese to which I got a lot of "Sugoi" (wow or awesome) comments. He promised me he would and sure enough after the top of the 3rd was over, he threw a ball over the fence to me and I thanked him for it. A really great guy who is way over with the fans too by the way as he had A LOT of people that wanted his signature. This ball was also my first NPB ball I have ever recieved at a game.
My first official NPB game ball .
Chunichi infielders Tomas De La Rosa and birthday boy Kyohei Iwasaki warming up before the game.
Toyota lead off hitter and center fielder Sho Aranami laying down a sacrifice bunt.
Toyota DH Eisaku Hirose putting the ball into play.
Toyota thanking the fans after the game was over.
The final score of an excellent and well played game.
And now onto the bad of the good and the bad. I went to the Nagoya Dome for Game 2 of the opening weekend series between the Chunichi Dragons and the Yokohama BayStars and once again I felt let down and left the stadium with a bad taste in my mouth about Yokohama. The starters for the game were Ryan Glynn (making his first start for his new team) for Yokohama and Kazuki Yoshimi for Chunichi. Glynn got hammered in his first start going only 4 innings and giving up 5 runs while Yoshimi on the other hand utterly humiliated the Stars by going the distance and throwing a shut out. Yokohama's "ippatsu byo" continued as Chunichi rookie Kei Nomoto hit the first home run of his young career in the bottom of the second. It was a two run shot into the right field stands and the dome lit up after that. I even gave him a round of applause despite the fact that I was sitting in the Yokohama cheering section. And the following day, his image was plastered on the front page of every sports newspaper in Nagoya because of it. New Chunichi Dragon Tony Blanco added 2 more runs in the bottom of the 3rd with a double to center field with the bases loaded making it 4-0 Chunichi. After that, center fielder Atsushi Fuji hit a solo home run to right making it 5-0 Chunichi and Chunichi's final run came in the bottom of the eighth with the bases loaded and Yokohama reliever Takeharu Katoh throwing a wild pitch which allowed Masahiko Morino to score from third making it 6-0. Yoshimi picked up the win for Chunichi and Glynn took the loss for Yokohama in his first start for them.
The final score for the night game at the Nagoya Dome.
I know that this game was only the second game of the season but it's going to be a long season by the Bay as the suffering will continue so to speak. Seeing an Industrial League team (Toyota is an Industrial League team right?) play better ball than a pro team is utterly pathetic and Yokohama should be ashamed of themselves and how they played in this game. I'm going to stop here before I make this a 5 page rant on how bad Yokohama is as it will only infuriate me more.
Sorry for the lack of pictures at the Nagoya Dome in this post but my camera takes bad pictures inside all of the Domes here in Japan. So instead, I took 3 videos of some new Yokohama Ouenka (cheer songs) for the 2009 season and will upload those videos to my youtube account later this week. Interesting to note that Ryan Glynn has his own song this year and it is all in English. Now, I'm not talking about 1 line that's like "Let's Go Ryan" or something like that, the ENTIRE song is in English (with the exception of the last line of course which is always in Japanese no matter what) and the Yokohama ouendan (cheer group) actually wrote the song in English (with the exception of his name which was written in katakana) on the cards they were holding up. The point I'm trying to make is that even if you can't speak a lick of Japanese and are just in Japan visiting and going to a BayStars game or whatever, you too can now take part in the cheering by singing this song to support Ryan Glynn and Yokohama. Pretty cool in my opinion.
Anyways, that wraps it up for this post. The next post will be much much shorter and should be up in the next few days. Hopefully, everyone is enjoying the season so far regardless of which team you support and once again, good luck to all the teams this year.