Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Spring Training from... the Tokyo Dome

Well my first spring training game... we might have to change the name of the blog to 6,753 Miles from Tokyo Dome, although it is only 6,736 miles from my current home if you go the other way round the world!

I am on a 'small' vacation at the moment, and arrived in Tokyo yesterday. Having read on Japanball.com that there were spring training games on in Tokyo while I was here - I wasn't capable of resisting, and was genuinely curious as to what would be different from a regular major league game...

So, so much!

The atmosphere itself is the first thing that a baseball fan would notice - although for UK football fans, it wouldn't seem so strange. In the right field bleachers, the home team, in this case, the fabulously named Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters (official web site here - although they really weren't at home if you read the history at the first link, or can translate at the second), had a singing section - with band, flag wavers, synchronized singing and fans in the same outfit. While in the left field bleachers, the equally gloriously named Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles (official web-site here), had their singing section, complete with band, flag wavers, etc, etc - and they just kept going and going - the game situation didn't seem to matter, and I wish I could tell what they were singing, but... just incredible! I don't imagine there was formal segregation as in football in the UK, but presumably fans that want that type of experience and involvement just know which section to go to.

The fan experience was pretty cool - a ticket cost 3,000 Yen - about $25 - and for that you could sit in any seat in the lower bowl - I presume this was only because it was a spring training game (regular season game tickets for the seats between the 1b and 3b are apparently 5,000 Yen or $42) - so that meant we were able to sit behind home plate, about 15 rows back, behind the 'safety' net - although that was another difference of note - in the Tokyo Dome, there was a safety net all the way along the 1st and 3b side, seemingly to beyond the distance that you might expect to be in danger from a line drive foul ball.

Other differences? no national anthem, no 7th inning stretch (although it did appear that the Ham Fighters' mascot led the bleacher crew in singing a Nippon Ham Fighters 'fight song'), the in-aisle sales offering included whisky... yep, get your hard liquor in your seat, and of course, the 8th inning clean up - where a stadium steward walked up and down each aisle and collected everyone's garbage (no piles of peanuts in the rows, just a nice shiny polished floor) - everything else seemed pretty much the same, including grown men fighting off small children for the honor of catching a foul ball.

The game itself ended a 5-2 win for the Nippon 9 - although given it was spring training, it really was the Nippon 20... you know that you are at a spring training game when the home team, up by 3 runs, easily gets the first 2 outs in the top of the 9th, bases empty... and calls for a pitching change!

Given it has been too long since I have seen a live game, tonight was an excellent way to start a new season - only 21 days until I am able to blog about Dice-K's home debut!

Posted by Picasa

0 threw a strike:

Post a Comment

<< Home