Our good friend, ‘M’, was in Nagoya again last night for game two of the current playoff series against Chunichi.
Here’s what he had to say:
Pre-game. Pre-game time was ‘killed’ with a visit to Inuyama. Highly recommended.
Nice castle, national treasure tea house and great monkey park. Now I’m on
my way to a different monkey park.
While watching a gorilla eat an apple I reflected on last night’s
encounter. Perhaps this is the perception filter through which I was
viewing the game but it seemed the Dragons had a ‘strut’
about them which we lacked. It’s a strut we had earlier this season. And,
as much as nothing we would please me more than their complete and utter
annihilation, it is a strut the Yomiurine have most of the time. The
confidence/arrogance and belief you can come back from behind however badly
earlier innings have gone. This is what I hope Ogawa is telling them
tonight – to channel the spirit that saw such great comebacks as the 10-10
against Yokohama, the 6-6 against the Yomiurine, the 2-1 Sayonara games
against the Yomiurine and Yokohama and, still the best in my mind the
brilliant comeback from 5-0 down against a Seibu side who had cleaned up in
the previous three interleague games to win 6-5.
At the recommendation of Tsubamegun pal and Japan Eats “Garrett” I went
for a pre-game stomach lining at Yamamoto-ya Honten. Exceptional. Sadly, in
order to enjoy this deliciacy I had to endure a constant looping of the
Dragons’ Lucky 7 song which is blasted throughout the basement area of
Nagoya station. I thought the reason we elected governments was to protect
free thinking people from this kind of aural abuse. Nauseating at the best
of times and more so with a belly of miso-nikomi-udon.
Thankfully no Dragons Train today. Let the games begin…
Early innings. How quick is this! Ishikawa dominating. Time for the run support. The fans
here praying for some beginners luck from Yamada (as I was typing this he’s
just gone 10 metres from being tonight’s hero).
More fight being shown tonight, thanks to Ishikawa’s pitching, and the fans
(more Swallows fans tonight) responding in kind.
One (more) thing I really hate about the away section of the Nagoya Dome is
how we are boxed in – the corridor is to the back and to the left, right
and in front we are surrounded by opposition fans. It’s not right.
Also not right – the beer staff for the away section is almost exclusively
Mid-game. Not much to say about the middle of the game. So I won’t.
Massive amusement as Takahashi’s song is identical to Hatakeyama’s… I
take this to its logical conclusion and cheer for Hatake for the whole
Massive eighth. What an eighth innings! That’s all I’ve got to say about that.
It doesn’t happen often but I turned to my friends and assured them the
next ball would be a home run… and then BAM! Beautiful!
Finishing it off. How to sum up the end of the game? Confident of winning, I picked up my
umbrella with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, only to find that it was
completely destroyed – possibly due to being jumped on by me. Attempts to
fix it (some serious damage here!) have led to the umbrella being covered
in blood… another equipment retirement and a fitting tribute to the boys.
The ‘banging devices’ were destroyed after Lim’s suicide mission on
Saturday. Whatever happens it is time for a new set of gear next year!
This is exactly the fight I wrote about before the game.
This is real sport! This is not about songs of drawing an arch in the sky,
although that is also fun. This is about 60-year old women shouting
‘Kutabare Chunichi’ and initiating Tokyo Ondo chants on the way to the
station, or my Japanese friends putting a pair of Doala ears on a Pringles
can and then inviting me to drop kick it. The relief of the fans today is
very evident. ‘Subtle’ whistles on the subway between different groups of
fans of Swallows player and team songs – the kind of cheekiness that I
always like to see in this great country.
I’m proud of the team and I’m proud of the fans. Confidence suitably
boosted. Bring on tomorrow!