Entering Enemy Territory – A Nagoya Diary, Part 1

Friend of Tsubamegun “M”, has taken the shinkansen down to Nagoya to cheer on the Swallows as they attempt to do what they failed to do at all down the stretch – flourish in the Nagoya Dome.

The prize at stake is restoration of Swallows pride and much more importantly, a place in the Japan Series for the first time since 2001.

M will be sending us updates and thoughts from the road over the course of this week, and here’s his first instalment. Hope you enjoy it.

The Journey. Heading to the stadium on some kind of “Dragons train” on the Meijiro Line to Nagoya Dome-mae Yada. Not only is the exterior plastered with Dragons logos but all the advertising space on the sides of the train is taken up with player statistics (such as, I assume, how stupidly long Morino’s legs are along with the record breaking size of HIS ENORMOUS FACE) and pictures of former Dragons “triumphs”. All I can think (hope?) is that it all ends over the next week… Come on boys!!

The walk to the stadium involves traversing the “Dragons Road” – a tunnel of propoganda. I thought the reason we elected governments was to protect free thinking people from this kind of mental abuse. Nauseating.

First glimpse of the scene where we will secure our run to the Japan Series. A horrible place. Maybe fresh air is not something Nagoya-jin like so they thought they would put some protection on top of their baseball stadium. I guess with all the auto-production you don’t move here for the air quality.

A few ticket touts along the bridge to the stadium. Not normally seen. Place is seeing a steady stream of people. Could be a full-house by about 1830.

Pre-match. Pitchers just announced. A HUGE SURPRISE (judging by the ‘heeeeeeeeee’ from our fans) that Masubuchi is starting this one. I guess it was a toss-up between him and Tateyama. Maybe good to give Tats a longer rest given his blood issues.

Tsubakuro is facing the Dragons fans and swinging an imaginary bat at them.
Clearly a thinly veiled insult.

Our fans are in fine voice in the pre-game singalong. A palpable tension here. Better remember to do Balentien’s ‘arch in the sky’ in the other direction now we’re in left field.

Early feedback. Not the best start clearly with two deep hits. Swallows at least showing some hitting at the top of the second. The worry with the walk at the start of the second is that Masubuchi’s confidence will drop and against the top of the Dragons` order that would be disastrous.

Individual fans getting behind Masubuchi but no concerted ‘red shirt’ effort to lift him up against a vocal Chunichi crowd. Given the importance of every inning of these games I was hoping for a little more.

Mid-Game. Masubuchi’s runs hopefully won’t expose our own recent lack of run-support. Now rolling through the bullpen and I almost sense fans and players here have written this one off. Not in a depressed way, more one of resignation.

“Lucky” 7. A rather subdued Lucky 7 from the fans here – still doing their part but not much faith we can pull this off with our remaining six outs, but with that edge of hope lingering on the outskirts of resignation.

Lim has come on – a decision which again has met with some frowns from
Swallows fans with Sunday’s debacle fresh in their minds.

Game over. Crowd got back into it as the boys throw a lifeline. I think many are emotionally spent after Monday. Goes without saying that we absolutely have to win tomorrow. Until then……


About David Watkins

David is a baseball bothering Brummie who spends a fair portion of his life fretting over the Tokyo Swallows and the WORLD'S GREATEST FOOTBALL TEAM, Aston Villa. He completes the quartet of abusive sporting relationships by being a die hard New York Knicks and Mets fan. You can find him on twitter: @yakulto

  • I’ve just heard from a friend of mine, who is also a Swallows fan, that there’s a rumor going around that the visitors meeting room at the Nagoya Dome is bugged.   So scary!  
    Don’t speak anything and don’t eat anything that’s served there, please!!

  • ‘M’

    Thanks Etsuko! Great advice. I have been watching what I eat, showering frequently and sweeping my hotel room for bugs too so when I return to Tokyo triumphant it will be in full health.

  • Michael Westbay

    It looks like somebody discovered the Halloween effects in Google+’s (Picnic) Creative Kit.

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