Spot the Shiroishi

Who said art is dead?

Well what should pop through my letter box this last weekend but a copy of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows Official goods Catalogue for this season.

In fact, it wasn’t just the one copy, but for some reason they sent me three. Maybe they’ve realised the true extent of my tat-buying tendencies and figure I can help lessen their net loss this year or something.

The contents of the catalogue are the same as the goods found online and I’ve already picked out the highlights, so it was the cover that caught my attention.

On the cover are drawings of some of the “stars” of the Tokyo team, no-doubt lovingly crafted by some part-time office intern in the yogurt research department. In the centre, is manager Takada, beaming with that inane smile of his. The kind of smile we see every game as he’s just watched his team bunt into yet another double play to end another plucky Swallows inning. In fairness to the intern, the likeness is pretty good, which is more than can be said for some of the other “stars”.

Other players featured are a rather disturbingly facially deformed Masanori Ishikawa (no.19, bottom right), and above him can be found franchise player Norichika Aoki. To the left of Aoki is veteran team captain Shinya Miyamoto, and bringing up the top left hand corner is the teenage Yoshinori.

Now, all of the players I’ve mentioned so far are ones I’d expect to be on the cover of such a publication, all of them high-profile and/or successful members of the top team. The final two players depicted however, don’t really fit that bill. To the left of Takada, in the bottom left corner, is 23-year-old pitcher Mikinori Katoh (who appears to be hanging from a tree.) A player who made only a handful of appearances in 2008 season, and not particularly successful ones at that.

But hey, he’s young, has potential (they gave him Ishii Kazuhisa’s old no.16 uniform number) and guys like that tend to be popular with the fanbase so OK, maybe it wasn’t just a mistake by the intern.

But, wait, who’s that hiding in the middle left of the picture, enjoying a Katoh Yoshinori sandwich? Why it’s none other than Tsubamegun‘s favourite player Noriyuki Shiroishi! So it must be his triple-threat (no-speed,no-power, no-skill) abilities that landed him in the picture. That or the intern has a crush on him.

Which wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest, as it seems despite his continual uselessness, he remains an enduringly popular member of the organisation, usually, it has to be said, with the female fans. His shirts can regularly be seen being proudly sported around Jingu, which I guess explains why he was featured.

Except that, as far as I’m aware, no Shiroishi goods are currently being sold officially in 2009. In fact, it seems that due to small budgets for merchandising at Yakult, a mere handful of players uniforms/T-shirts can be purchased officially (see the tat post for those officially available this year). Any other players shirts have to be specially ordered/made by the fans. Which means most of the Shiroishi jerseys seen around the right-field stands have either been expensively ordered or lovingly hand stitched by his legions of fans. Which makes it all the more frightening. . .

So fair play to the man, he’s made a little go a long way, and is still making decent enough money with those limited talents.

I just wish that some more deserving players would get some shine, like for example starting pitcher Shohei Tateyama. Arguably Tokyo’s finest starter of 2008, there are still practically no goods whatsoever sold officially by the organisation bearing his name. And that’s just another example in a list of so many, of how clueless this organisation really is.

But hey, Shiroishi’s doing fine so that makes it all OK in Swallows-land.

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

  • Mr. Watkins, you’ve forgotten one of the best things about Shiroishi – in addition to being useless on the field, he’s expensive – easily the most overpaid player in the past decade of the franchise. Not only is he paid like a first-team regular, he’s paid like a first-team regular coming off a career year that might have cemented a Hall of Fame career.

    I know he’s the players’ rep to the union (of which our own Miyamoto was the president, no?), but I figure he has either knocked up Sumiya Hori’s daughter, seen Hori, Suzuki, or Kurashima commit a cold-blooded murder (I picture it being done in a shadowed pantomime, with a cowering Shiroishi peaking around the corner of a nearby building, seeing nothing useful until Mr. Hori [or Suzuki or Kurashima] pauses under a streetlight to obligingly look directly at Shiroishi without noticing him, just like in a Japanese detective drama), or has somehow managed to amass a controlling, but unlisted, interest in Yakult Honsha, possibly through extensive underworld contacts.

    Then again, with that kind of power, why isn’t he playing? OK, it’s the first or second one, not the third.

    On another note, Dave, have you received your limited-edition, 18K gold-trimmed hand-painted Shiroishi commemorative dinner plates yet?

  • On another note, Dave, have you received your limited-edition, 18K gold-trimmed hand-painted Shiroishi commemorative dinner plates yet?

    They’re on order.

  • You’re gonna love ’em. They’ll be a collector’s item you can pass on to your grandchildren.

  • Christopher

    I suppose that if he sells goods he’s worth keeping around. Wheel him out for the odd game but otherwise keep him where he can’t do any damage. I’m usually amused by the attempts of other teams to sell merchandise compared to the Tigers. It’s the difference between the absolutely crazy (a radio controlled bus which plays Rokko Oroshi – I have one, a gift I hasten to add) and the boringly mundane. But I must admit that my favourite goods are the Gomiuri Gabbits – there are so many ways to abuse a Gabbit.

  • flick

    Got this in the mail as well. Quite disturbing… especially the picture of Aoki. Couldn’t figure out that that was Shiroishi either. Thanks for clearing that up, I guess… Oh yeah, I placed my order via the website three weeks ago, but still no signs of my “TYS baby poncho” coming anytime soon… bleah, you kind of get used to these things being a TYS fan…

    Oh yeah, I just want to make sure one thing. It should totally be in my right to kick the crap out of those clerks at the Hanshin store on the way to Jingu, right? I find it disgusting that they would solicit people even when Hanshin’s not playing… on the other hand, I find myself heading out of the stadium some days, thinking of switching to another team (like yesterday!), so I guess it’s a solid business strategy on their part…

  • I’d put it this way: kicking the crap out of them might be out of order, but there’s no need to show any decency towards those who show none and go a step too far in their boorishness. Which means you probably should be kicking the crap out of Yakult for not sticking up for their own team.

  • Christopher

    Yakult want the money and to be honest are clueless about how to make it. They need the income from Tigers fans otherwise the deficit would look really bad. It is difficult to believe but I don’t think that there is a marketing team more devoid of anything resembling intelligence than the Yakult organisation. Sure, as a Tigers fan I’m happy to see sustainable Tigers shops near Jingu but I can’t help thinking that the Yakult organisation is pathetic to let it happen. An example of how it should be, in 2003 when Tigers won the pennant a lot of companies applied to hold victory sales or sell victory goods. Only those without any links to baseball teams got permission, otherwise no way. This is how Yakult should be thinking.

  • Does Yakult own the buildings that those shops are in?

    You’re pretty much preaching to the choir here, Christopher, and as you hinted, the upcoming GW home series versus Hanshin serves to keep Yakult’s collective trap shut. Should be some good crowds out for those games.

    However, unless the company owns those sites, then there’s probably nothing they can do about the Tigers shops popping up (correct me if I’m wrong).

    One thing that could and should be done, on the other hand, is banning those balloons inside Jingu (??????). The “seventh inning littering dance” shouldn’t be allowed to take place anymore. Indeed, I believe that it’s been banned inside Tokyo Dome.

    The fact that it still takes place constitutes damning evidence of the malady you speak of–that the lads running the show have no idea what’s going on.

  • I’m sure the club makes decent money from the jet balloons for every team that uses them… but they’re so un-eco that banning them outright now would be a good publicity move (never mind the removal of annoying litter).

    Jingu’s owned by Meiji Jingu religious entity tho, so I’m not sure how much money the club makes off of concession sales at the stadium. Yakult as the team owner sucks, but they’re also in a no-win lease (especially when compared to public financed MLB parks.. but those cause societal problems, so they’re another issue. MLB’s business model is very short-sighted in this sense.)

  • Christopher

    Fans of the following teams use jettos, Tigers, Golden Eagles, Carp, Giants (at away games), Lions, Hawks and Buffaloes. Grounds that don’t permit jettos are, Tokyo Dome, Yokohama and Nagoya Dome. The new Hiroshima Stadium allows jettos. To the best of my knowledge every other stadium allows them.

    I was under the impression that the concessions for the stores were granted by Yakult but I could well be wrong here.

  • Maybe I’m mistaken, but the Carp were the first team to start the inflated-condom waving, no?

    Shame on all of the teams that have copied them and add non-recyclable plastic to the heaps of trash that flood out of stadiums six nights a week.

    And double-shame on the Carp (if it was indeed them that originated it) for starting the “7th inning littering dance” in the first place.

  • According to Hochi, the Swallows were considering to open a shop at the same place, but the leaders didn’t say yes.
    Meanwhile, they were forestalled by the Tigers and bit their lips in vexation.

    The shop always reminds me of thick-skinned Tigers’ fans(not all of them are insensitive, of course) and disturbs me, but as long as their business goes well, the shop will be there.

    As for the jet balloons, I totally agree with you.

  • According to Hochi, the Swallows were considering to open a shop at the same place, but the leaders didn’t say yes.

    Someone at Jingu mentioned that. By “leaders” do you mean the team’s front office?

  • Christopher

    Tigers fans tend to treat Jingu as their Tokyo home, we like the ground a lot. But the Tigers marketing department just happens to be the most clued in baseball marketing unit in Japan. They would have seen and grabbed the opportunity immediately. This is the Osaka style, its a merchant town and the philosophy is that time waits for no one.

    Yakult like a lot of teams do not have the awareness and one has to equate them as a bunch of amateur neophytes against a professional machine. Other marketing departments that are reasonable are Rakuten (very sharp) and Hiroshima on occasions. But one thing that the Jingu stadium authorities have realised is that Tigers fans bring income. Swallows fans don’t. Personally, I would like to see a lot more Swallows fans at Jingu (the dominance by Tigers fans disturbs me as well) but until the marketing moves beyond the current levels its not going to happen.

  • flick

    Yeah Garrett, I agree with the fact that someone in the TYS organization deserves a slap in the face.
    The Hanshin store itself is annoying but I understand why it’s there. It just bugs me that the clerks would be soliciting people walking to a Swallows/Carps game, in which it is pretty clear that no one is interested.

    I also find it pathetic that Yakult jacks up the price of the infield tickets when they play the Giants and the Tigers. Do you guys know if other teams do this? I know the Baystars don’t.

    BTW, nice win tonight.

  • A lot of teams charge more for Yomiuri and Hanshin games, esp. Yomiuri games, as those teams draw more fans. I’ve never been to anything other than a Swallows game at Yokohama Stadium, but I’ve noticed that Yokohama jacks up prices by turning normally unreserved seats into reserved seats for day games or anything else that might draw a crowd.

    The Giants do the stupid condom thing on the road? I haven’t seen it at Jingu.

    As for the whole marketing at Jingu thing, it seems Yakult is unwilling to spend money to make money and unwilling (on other fronts) to go through the headache of not lubing up for Yomiuri. If a co. is leasing a space to sel Hanshin stuff, that’s free enterprise. To the extent that the Swallows organization has any control over it, they deserve enormous scorn if they even consider permitting the sale of Tigers merch when the Tigers are not playing. Even if sales of Hanshin and Yomiuri merch made enough to keep the Swallows out of the red (which, to be honest, I doubt is even remotely in the realm of the plausible), it would wise, long-term, for Yakult to think about building a better brand image for the team – stop keeping up the image being second-tier.

    Things Yakult could start on tomorrow are:
    1. Make sure everything in the catalog is for sale at at least one well-stocked shop at the stadium.
    2. Start pursuing every available joint-marketing opportunity available. (What would it take to get To-Do, at the Tokyo Dome, to stock more Swallows merch? Would local shops, such as the Mini-Stop, be willing to carry more Swallows merch? Some stuff in omiyage shops?)
    3. Set up a pricing plan for international shipping of merch.
    4. Open a bricks-and-mortar, year-round shop selling Swallows merch near Jingu.
    5. Take a variety of Swallows merch, not just cheesy Tsubakurou crap and the stuff that doesn’t sell in Tokyo, to the home-away-from-home games.
    6. Order constantly throughout the season, so the popular items don’t become unavailable halfway through the season.
    7. Stop pushing crap that’s not selling. Sell what people are buying, not what you have a lot of. The Swallows are not GM in the ’60s. Push-marketing does not work for them.

    For the stadium:
    1. Negotiate with Jingu to get Swallows decor up. Retired nos. on the wall, championship pennants up – all of it would be no more permanent or trouble than ads.
    2. Bar the balloons outright.
    3. Purchase year-round advertising near Jingu with the path to the stadum marked and something like the next home game (during the season) or a countdown to the start of the preseason (in the winter) on them.

  • For the stadium:
    1. Negotiate with Jingu to get Swallows decor up. Retired nos. on the wall, championship pennants up – all of it would be no more permanent or trouble than ads.

    This is key & needed badly. The stadium needs some branded Swallows character as apart from what’s on the scoreboard, there’s nothing to tell you you’re at the home of the Swallows when you’re inside the stadium.

    They do a fair job outside with banners and such, but it could still be way better.

  • Ken

    4. Open a bricks-and-mortar, year-round shop selling Swallows merch near Jingu.

    There’s not enough foot traffic to support one. The stadium is in the middle of nowhere and there’s no one anywhere near there in the off-season.

    I think it’s a good idea to open a better shop at the stadium, but something that’s open year-round would have to be in another location just to survive.

  • There’s not enough foot traffic to support one.

    Yeah, I was wondering about that. Are they planning to keep that Hanshin goods shop open during the off-season?

    As for the Swallows products, I would be well-impressed if they managed to get the catalogs out before the season started.

  • Maybe Hanshin brass are counting on offseason foot traffic from other sporting (and non-sporting) events in the Jingu sporting complex, cuz y’know Hanshin fans are everywhere, maybe not even restricted solely to baseball fans 😀

  • N26

    I hate jet balloons. I think it is cool that Swallows don’t do them. I wish Lotte would quit. Rather, Jingu should ban jet balloons. All these Hanshin fans coming and polluting Jingu is wrong.

    How about if the fans started their own labels instead of relying on the team ones? Swallows fans can come with their own T Shirts and sell them at Jingu or outside Jingu. There is quite a lot of that in football but I guess not so wide spread in baseball.

    I like my baseball teams but I rarely buy team merch. I think it would be cooler if some of the fans came up with something.

  • The original merchandise sold in the fan club section by gate 9 is cool, they can’t be found anywhere else.

  • “By “leaders” do you mean the team’s front office?

    Oh, yes. I couldn’t remember the apporopriate translation when I wrote the last comment. Sorry.

  • Garrett,

    Yokohama Stadium does not jack up the prices for seats on day games or any games for that matter as ticket prices are the same for all games. But, if they were smart they would. I totally agree with everything here as the Swallows need an image makeover really bad and starting by decorating Jingu Stadium more would be a great start.

    Oh and one more thing, I’ll be heading down to Matsuyama next week to catch the Swallows vs. Carp games @ Bochan Stadium. Anything in particular you guys would like to see included in the reports when i post them up? I just thought I’d ask.

  • Christopher

    Seibu tried a shop in Harajuku and it failed so there is no guarantee it will work. The Swallows brand isn’t strong enough to support a stand alone shop I’m afraid. The only team which has that marketing strength is the Tigers (Giants did have a shop at Tokyo Station but that also failed). However, Swallows should have more products at the stadium as a starter. The Swallows need to link their brand to a region and this is a problem as Kanto is Giants territory.

    Tigers marketing relies on a bottom up approach which N26 advocates. The marketing department doesn’t commission goods except for special occaisions. Otherwise businesses apply to Hanshin for a license to use the logo and image to sell the product. If it’s successful a sticker is affixed to the product indicating Hanshin Tigers approval. Fans buy the products with the sticker on so it is important to get the approval of the Hanshin organisation. But it means that product ideas are mostly bottom up meaning that they tend to be successful. Swallows should adopt something like this – licensing the image rather than designing the product itself. At the moment Tigers can count on product alliances with brands like ‘X-blx’ and ‘Bape’ and Swallow should aim for something like this.

    I rather like the balloons – they make a spectacular sight and I suspect that you guys may be against them because they remind you that Tigers can get more fans out than the Swallows. It isn’t a nice thing to be reminded of.

  • Matt, perhaps not “jacking up,” strictly speaking, but they take nonreserved seats, which are normally ?1800, and turn them into reserved seats selling for ?2200, making only standing room unreserved, which means ticket prices are not the same for the same seats at all games although the names might match the prices for all games. I’d call reclassifying seats changing the prices. They’ve done this for at least the past three seasons.

    Ken, you’re right about the bricks and mortar shop being near the stadium having insufficient foot traffic, although one needn’t go far to hit much busier streets. “Close” is relative.

    Christopher, while a bricks and mortar shop wouldn’t be the best first step, I don’t think insufficiently strong branding is a good reason to not try to improve the brand. You’re right that the Swallows don’t have a strong brand, but nothing will change as long as they keep saying, “Oh well, we’re not popular, so let’s not market to people who aren’t already Swallows fans.”
    It won’t be easy, but there’s no inherent reason that the Giants and Hanshin have to remain NPB’s most popular teams.

  • I suspect that you guys may be against them because they remind you that Tigers can get more fans out than the Swallows. It isn’t a nice thing to be reminded of.

    Wrong.

    We (or at least I) don’t like them as they litter up the stadium and in the process create tens of thousands of unrecyclable rubbish items.

    By all means do it in your own stadium (this goes for all visiting teams, not just the Tigers) but not in ours.

    It has nothing to do with any “Tigers popularity envy” whatsoever. I’d sooner keep the 10,000 or so of our own fans than swap them for a fanbase similar to the legions of goons in Hanshin shirts who invade our stadium twelve times a year.

  • Here, here, David!

    Christopher, I can assure that you will find nary an iota of Hanshin envy in the Tokyo hordes (tiny as they may be.) I doubt you’ll find that sort of envy, of any team, amongst any team’s fanbase. If someone just wanted to follow a team that had lots of people cheering for them, they could cheer for the Giants or Tigers. I expect most fans, Giants and Tigers fans included, come to their teams for a more complex variety of reasons and are generally happy in their decision.

    For me, I’m against littering in general, esp. on a large scale. I see the balloon thing as somewhat obnoxious and a disheartening display of waste and pollution – a lot like unnecessary packaging on products or air horns, banging on frying pans, and all of the other inconsiderate things that are done at ball games around the world.

    Would I like to see more Tokyo supporters at Jingu? You betcha. Would I take all the ills of the Hanshin crowd along with it? Nope.

  • I don’t think low foot traffic near Jingu necessarily means that its difficult to sell merch outside the stadium. K-Stadium Miyagi is in an inconvenient location as well but the grounds themselves during game days are full of vendors in temporary tents selling goods for all teams, especially the home team. And they sell tons of Rakuten goods there too – pretty much everyone is wearing a uni, cap, or both.

    Seems to me that marketing success is largely a function of willpower. In Tokyo Giants marketing is ubiquitous, Lions marketing is everywhere Seibu-related, Marines goods and posters are all over Chiba, but where’s the Swallows marketing? Am I missing it?

  • where’s the Swallows marketing? Am I missing it?

    Nope, there’s none. Save for a few flags on the route from Shinanomachi station to Jingu.

  • Oh, and Hi Steve. Welcome to the site!

  • I rather like the balloons – they make a spectacular sight and I suspect that you guys may be against them because they remind you that Tigers can get more fans out than the Swallows. It isn’t a nice thing to be reminded of.

    Huh? Wow. Classic.

  • I don’t think low foot traffic near Jingu necessarily means that its difficult to sell merch outside the stadium.

    Welcome to the site, Steve.

    I think people are referring to the year-round viability of the shop. It’s a regular store on the road between Gaienmae station and Jingu stadium.

    Who knows, maybe there’s enough interest in the team that they can sell a profitable amount of Tigers tat during the off-season. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

  • N26

    Japanese teams could always look to MLB for inspiration. MLB merch is sold across the entire globe. Up here in Scandinavia where there is no baseball you see kids wearing NY hats and other MLB teams. Having MLB merchandize is cool here. In Japan too you see Japanese kids wearing MLB things such as hats and jerseys. MLB brand has become so huge that even people who are not interested in basball wants them. It’s become fashion. It would be nice if kids who are not especially interested in baseball would want a Swallows hat for instance or if NPB could for a minute just take their heads out of the sand and see the bigger picture and try to market it on a global scale.

    There was/is..(?) an excellent hat store between Harajuku and Shibuya. They sell proper good quality expensive hats of most if not all the MLB teams but they also sold Japan’s national team hats and also Baystars and Swallows hats. I also noticed quite a few kids about 2 years ago, mostly hiphop kids wearing Yokohama Baystars hats. In the front you had the regular logo and on the back it says Yokohama. Seemed like a Japanese hiphop thing. If kids think it is cool to wear the Baystars hats or Swallows for that matter and the team can make some money. Great.

  • Christopher

    MLB sales seem to be mostly Yankees with a little bit of the Athletics and Red Sox thrown in. To be honest it doesn’t have much impact beyond the hip hop crowd.

    To comment on the environmental waste of the balloons. We go along in the evening to watch a non essential activity which consumes enormous amounts of electricity through floodlights, sound systems and scoreboards and we moan about a few thousand balloons whch are collected along with all the other waste. They don’t use electricity to inflate the balloons.

    There is a lot of envy from the Yakult fans towards the Tigers fans which to some extent is justified. Some of my compatriots are boorish and don’t know how to behave. Tigers didn’t discover successful marketing so much as stumble across it but once they found it they stuck to it. Yakult need to differentiate (a good slogan would be Tokyo’s real team) but given the parsimonity of their front office one cannot see this happening soon.

  • There is a lot of envy from the Yakult fans towards the Tigers fans which to some extent is justified.

    Huh? I don’t know which Tokyo fans you’re talking about, but I’m pretty sure that they don’t frequent this site.

    If you replaced the word “envy” above with dislike or disgust, then you’d be much closer to reality with regard to how Tokyo fans feel about the visiting Hanshin crowds.

  • There is a lot of envy from the Yakult fans towards the Tigers fans

    Only in your world Christopher. Only in your world.

  • To comment on the environmental waste of the balloons. We go along in the evening to watch a non essential activity which consumes enormous amounts of electricity through floodlights, sound systems and scoreboards and we moan about a few thousand balloons whch are collected along with all the other waste. They don’t use electricity to inflate the balloons.

    Right.

    This isn’t really worth getting into, but the general point we’re making is that team traditions, ornamentation and routines that add to the waste every night should be banned.

    I’m not a big fan of those plastic banger things that many people buy, but at least they can be reused for several games (if not seasons). And that’s the key here: all that plastic that goes into making those obnoxious things can generally withstand the wear and tear of multiple uses.

    Now turning back to the balloons–if anyone in the Hanshin section of the stadium is able to track down their balloon and reuse it, then hey, they’ve met the above criteria. But that’s generally not the way that it works over there, right?

    So while the very act of coming to the game is in itself wasteful because of all the resources that go into providing the infrastructure for the game, we are arguing that the balloon thing is too much. The same would be true if Tokyo fans bought and discarded miniature blowup penguins swallows on a nightly basis, or if they went through an umbrella each evening. Such practices would be subject to the same ban.

    And now we can pull this back around to where this discussion began. You were lecturing us before on the relative merits of the Hanshin marketing machine and how the Yakult people aren’t doing enough to keep other teams from encroaching on the Swallows’ territory.

    One way of pushing back (as suggested earlier) would be to ban wasteful practices by visiting groups of fans. The “7th inning littering dance” definitely qualifies for such treatment.

    The silver-lining here is that all the saliva from those balloons is getting sprayed right back on top of the people that released them.

    That thought makes me smile every time a flock of those colorful condoms flies into the air.

  • N26

    In the day and age of various strange flues around the globe, I´d like to have the balloons on a safe distance from me. What more disguiting is there to have some spit form an obnoxious cigarette smoking old geezer from Osaka in your face through the balloons. Ughh. Gross.

    You would want your team´s fans to be original. Now all teams do the balloons which is basically a rip off of Hanshin. I have heard stories that it was actually Hiroshima fans who started doing balloons first but Hanshin made it popular and from there it spread to other teams.

    Because Swallows don´t do the balloons it makes them different from the others which is a good thing in my book. They also have the umbrella which too is original. Now if they only can find a way to get a bigger fans base and market the team as the proper Tokyo team thing would start to look very good. The laid backness in the the bleachers I don´t really mind. It is kind of their charm in a way where as Lotte fans are very intense.

    I also am not a big fan of the plastic bangers. I am glad Lotte fans and also to some extent Yokohama fans don´t use them. Giants fans also don´t use them either where as the last time I checked quite a few Swallows fans were still using them. I hope Swallows fans will also depart from them. Leave the plastic bangers to the cobnoxious people in Osaka and others.

  • Christopher

    Gentlemen all these replies reek of envy and might one say malice. Are all Tigers fans like this? Or are their nice ones as well? What about the rubbish clearance squads organised by the Tigers Oendan who help the stadium staff clean up the rubbish after the game? The reason Jingu authorities pay more attention to Tigers fans is that there are more of them and they spend more money.

    Sure they might make lots of noise and blow up balloons but this is basically harmless entertainment. It hurts no one and it puts money into the pockets of the Jingu stadium and helps Yakult survive as a baseball team. I have said I would like to see more Swallows fans at Jingu but they don’t seem to come. A problem with the Swallows perhaps? Until the Swallows sort themselves out they will have to rely on Tigers fans and Giants fans. At least these people turn out to support their teams. If you want things to change then you – as Swallows fans – have to do something. It’s no good whining about Tigers fans and their habits. Make Jingu a place full of Swallows fans and then maybe you can legitimately complain about other teams fans.

  • Do the Swallows make more money from Yomiuri and Hanshin games than from Chunichi, Hiroshima and Yokohama games?

    Yes.

    Does anyone disagree?

    No.

    Does anyone care?

    No, because that money generally goes straight back to the parent company (Yakult).

    Is Yakult a terrible owner?

    Yes.

    Does anyone disagree?

    No.

    Does Hanshin market its team better than Yakult does?

    Yes.

    Does anyone care?

    Not particularly, but some people seem to think that this is a salient point any time Swallows fans are giving their club a good dressing down.

    In fact, such a ‘dressing down’ was the impetus for this post.

    Is it the responsibility of the fans to get more bums in seats at the stadium?

    Is this a trick question?

    Do Tokyo fans show up at Jingu if the birds aren’t playing well?

    Not unless someone lovable is retiring.

    Do Tokyo fans show up at Jingu if the birds are in first or second place?

    Not unless it’s a weekend series or late in the season.

    Will this change?

    Not unless the team moves to a smaller market, is bought by a new owner, signs the “handkerchief prince”, or finishes near the top of the league year in and year out (although all four factors would likely be necessary).

    Do the pundits at this site really want to see Jingu packed every night?

    Ah, no…where would we park the coolers and pizza boxes?

    Did Hanshin fans show up for games at Jingu prior to the Hoshino-led renaissance in 2003?

    Nope.

    Do Tokyo fans dislike it when visiting fans from Yomiuri, Hanshin, Hiroshima (etc.) do the “7th inning littering dance”?

    Many do.

    Do Tokyo fans have any control over this situation?

    Nope.

    Did Tokyo fans dislike the “7th inning littering dance” back when Hanshin was a weak baseball team (pre-2003)?

    Definitely.

    Has anything changed?

    Not that I can tell.

    Does this mean that Tokyo fans now envy the Hanshin fan base (whereas they used to just get annoyed by their cheering habits)?

    I’m not quite sure how one could make that logical leap, but it doesn’t seem to be doing any good to dispute this point. Again, disdain, distrust, or dislike would probably be more accurate here.

    All in all, it’s probably safe to say that Tokyo fans don’t care how much extra money comes in when Hanshin or Yomiuri are visiting. They know from experience that it will have little or no effect on how money is spent on the team in the future.

    More importantly, anti-Yomiuri types dislike Yomiuri as an organization. Anti-Hanshin types (and sorry for repeating this yet again, but it’s an important distinction) have no problem with the team but dislike the club’s fan base for reasons that everyone frequenting this site is aware of.

    Will this ever change?

    Possibly, but it would be unwise to hold one’s breath.

  • ^^^^^Post over.

    Move along folks, there’s nothing further to see here.

  • Pingback: Artistic Swallows (and the new Shiroishi) : ????Tokyo Yakult Swallows()