A Taste of Spring Training

**Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Mac. A long-time friend of the Tsubamegun, Mac is the founder of Maction Planet, a bespoke travel and unique apparel provider in Tokyo. Check out their baseball tours here.**

The less said about today’s 7-0 defeat by Rakuten the better, but there were a couple of interesting things worth mentioning about the fan experience today. First of all, fan club members who wore this year’s Swallows Crew shirt were able to pick up a patch celebrating the 5th year of the existence of the crew.

When you picked this up, a raffle ticket of sorts was given out. Winners would be allowed on the field after the game to have a front-row view of a talk show featuring some players.
Unlike the previous two friendly games which ended after roughly 2 hours and 20 minutes, today’s game lasted three hours. There was then 45 minutes of waiting around before this talk Show began.
The event was co-hosted by Sayu, leader of the Passion cheerleaders, and a radio DJ. And of course no Swallows event is complete without living legend Tsubakuro, the Swallows mascot, himself decked out in a giant Swallows Crew uniform emblazoned with his trademark number 2896.
Together, the three of them chatted away, showing the free gifts that are being given away at each of the games in the opening series starting 31 March.
A panel comprising of Yuhei, Ogawa, Ishikawa, Sakaguchi, Yamanaka, and Boss Manaka then took to the stage.
After a video and a short speech by Manaka, the lucky on field fans got to remove their coats in what had turned into a very cold evening to get a photo with the players, with everyone wearing their white and green 2017 Swallows Crew uniforms.

Waiting for the post-game show to get started.

The talk Show proper began with Manaka discussing Akiyoshi at the WBC and whether he’ll be closing this year, amongst other topics. They also discussed this year’s slogan “Me wo Samase,” and what it means to the team in the light of last year’s performance.

Exerting managerial privilege, Manaka then vacated the stage leaving the players to sit down and entertain the crowd.
Ishikawa egged Yuhei on to do deliver a unique 333 this season – 30 home runs, .300 average, and 3 stolen bases!
Ogawa has signed up for Platinum level membership of this year’s Swallows Crew. His gift choices were the bag towel and the tote bag. He then apologised for his poor form last year and said he would use that as motivation to perform this year.
Ishikawa continued the apologies but pointed out that the side had been strengthened with the signing of some new foreigners.
Sakaguchi was asked about the differences between living in Osaka and Tokyo. Of course, the side of the escalator that people stand on came up.

He can’t talk, but that doesn’t stop him from participating in talk-shows.

Ishikawa wrapped things up by saying that the wanted to recreate the championship glories of 2015 and perform the traditional beer spraying  celebration again.

The whole event lasted about one hour.
Open-sen continues tomorrow with the Swallows taking on the Hanshin Tigers at Jingu at 1pm.
About Christopher Pellegrini

Christopher is a budding sabermetrician and long-time supporter of Tokyo's more lovable team, the Swallows. He has publicly volunteered, several times, that he plans to buy the team at some point in the future. When he finally runs the joint, it is likely that he will fine any player who swings at the first pitch or sac bunts (unless it's a pitcher, of course). Follow him on Twitter: @chrispellegrini

  • dr. no

    I was at the exhibition game on Monday. Fun time and nice weather on the first day of spring.