A New Jingu for a New Season

Now that preseason play has begun, you’re probably either spending your afternoons at Jingu or you’re wondering how the squad is shaping up. Newcomer Takahiro Araki, 23, has been the regular at short and looks pretty good in the field, although he seems to be swinging for the fences a bit much; Eulogio de la Cruz had a rough start against Saitama yesterday; Aaron Guiel is hitting hard – he cracked one out to right today; Yuichi has been getting some time in right field, but I can’t say why, and Yasushi Iihara has been settling in at DH – now if only there were a DH for more than a dozen games in the season.

Baseball is not what this is about per se, though. No, this post is here to deliver some important news about baseball-watching.

First of all: Boycott Mini-Stop. In their wisdom, the management of the Mini-Stop next to JR Shinanomachi Station, right in our own ‘hood, have decided to shrink their section of Swallows merchandise to one shelf – a shelf it shares with a few Yokohama items and a few Hanshin items – whilst filling the three shelves beneath it with Hanshin Tigers crap.

Yes, that’s right, our local Mini-Stop thinks the coin it gets from hawking plastic tat to visiting tat-fiends is the main consideration. Therefore we say not one yen for any Mini-Stop anywhere. We’ll grant a dispensation if the only konbini where you live happens to be a Mini-Stop, but if you set foot in the Shinanomachi branch, we’re not your friends anymore – go be a Yomiuri fan if you care mostly about what’s easy. There’s a Newdays in the station, where you can get drinks and snacks.

We will not be awkward guests in our own home.

On the plus side, throwing slobbery plastic trash on the field at Jingu continues to be banned (no jet fusen.) If you get off on this obnoxious practice and you’re a Carp fan, so be it. If you’re supporting any other team, just knock it off already. Hiroshimans suffer enough between their muggy summers and their lackluster team – let them keep their own traditions.

Almost as big a plus is the raft of renovations made to the outfield concourse at Jingu. From the pedestrian bridge over Gaien-Higashi-dori (in front of Shinanomachi Station) to the ramp leading up the bleachers, you’ll see new slip-resistant floor coverings. The ramp has also been slightly elongated – presumably in order to make rainy evenings less slippery. At the base of that ramp, you’ll find a new Baskin-Robbins outlet, a concession stand twice as wide as it used to be (shorter lines, one hopes), better stadium maps showing what tasty tidbits are available where, and completely redone toilets. Not only are there more urinals and more sinks, they’re laid out better, making the bathroom 437 times better than it was last year. Why 437? When you’ve been to as many stadium toilets as I have, or have been the outfield men’s room at Jingu as often as I have, you just know. Some of you might say I’m exaggerating, that the toilets are merely 396 times better. I can see that argument.)

The new food items taste about the way you’d expect them to. We continue to recommend waiting until the fifth inning to purchase most edible items, as that is when they are most likely to be hot and less-nasty.

On the potable front, not only has our good friend, the Beer Prince, moved on to better pastures (he graduated from college and got a real job), beer prices have gone up 50 yen across the board, making it now 750 for a draft and 500 for a can or bottle. All the more reason to stop by Newdays (not Mini-Stop!) and BYOB – just keep it hidden.

Of course, everything looks newer and cleaner and is better-marked. The only downside is that the concourse is narrower.There are now some “Eat-in# stalls across from some of the concession stands, but if anyone decides to lay out tarps on the concourse to entertain little kids or get out of the rain, as people have always done, the concourse may well become impassible. My fear, of course, is that these renovations may yet turn out to be another in the long list of examples of Jingu spending a fair bit of money to make things better without bothering to observe the behaviors and patterns of the fans, much less asking what fans would like to see.

Any Tokyo Yakult Swallows decor showing that, in fact, the Swallows have been, for almost 47 years, the stadium’s main tenant? Don’t be silly. Have the old infield fences, with their wide view-obstructing posts, been replaced with more modern ones that protect people’s unsuspecting faces from line-drive fouls while also allowing people to see things without dead spots in their field of vision? Of course not. As I said, Jingu updates things, but refuses to talk to its patrons. Shas it always been, so shall it long be.

All of this said, turnout at preseason games has been better than in previous years, the scoreboard at Jingu says the first two home series of the regular season are already sold out, and you’ll probably be able to relieve yourself and make it back into the stands within an inning, so all is well with the world.

  • Susan

    Once again, thanks for your updates and this site. We are Jamie D'Antona fans from Tucson and really appreciate all your efforts. Speaking of which, you didn't mention him. We know he signed for 2 years. How is he doing? We saw he got a 3 run homer the other night, but with no play-by-play, we're in the dark here. Thanks again and keep up the great work!!!!

    • Hi Susan

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Yes, Jamie is indeed back in a Tokyo uniform this year and is doing ok so far this pre-season, though it's still early days. He hit a homer in today's loss against the Tigers (his second of the pre-season and he's hitting .212 so far).

      Rest assured the daily reports will re-surface come opening day on the 26th of March and we'll be keenly following Jamie's progress as usual.

  • Susan

    Once again, thanks for your updates and this site. We are Jamie D'Antona fans from Tucson and really appreciate all your efforts. Speaking of which, you didn't mention him. We know he signed for 2 years. How is he doing? We saw he got a 3 run homer the other night, but with no play-by-play, we're in the dark here. Thanks again and keep up the great work!!!!

  • christopheramanolangtree

    Welcome back guys. Don't you think you're being a bit unfair on Mini-Stop? After all they are just following the commercial imperative which is that Hanshin fans buy more than Swallows fans – even though it's near the Swallows stadium. After all Mini-Stop exists to make profits for its shareholders and it seems it can't do so selling Swallows goods. It's more a failure of Swallows marketing department and Swallows fans than the store itself. Why should a convenience store in a highly competitive market be forced to allocate shelf space to goods which do not sell? Still it's nice to see you on form again.

    • Mini-Stop does what it feels is best, as do we. You being a Hanshin fan, feel free to shop there. For us, the boycott stands.

      That said, you're right, the Swallows could do much better in terms of marketing.

      • christopheramanolangtree

        The irony is that I don't use the Mini Stop anyway as I don't travel to Jingu by that line. It was just the absurdity that amused me – Tigers tat sells (and I saw some particularly prize tat yesterday) and a chain has to stock what sells. I doubt your boycott will have much effect unless you can link in to the Swallows oendan and persuade them to join you (which might be a good idea as there do seem to be rather a lot of Tigers stores around Jingu). That would be a worthwhile campaign.

        • Garrett DeOrio

          That’s not ironic (but that’s the pedant in me talking.)

          Take a look at boycotts. That a company is doing what it thinks will make it money is not an argument against a boycott, but an argument in favor of a boycott. I think you’re right: our boycott will probably consist of us three and maybe one or two sympathizers and Mini-Stop will never even know it’s going on. It’s a stand on principle, though. That others may find that principle absurd is a given when the principle is baseball tat. Then again, if the boycott were to catch on, it would be in Mini-Stop’s interests to stock loads of Swallows gear and burn Giants, Tigers, and Dragons gear in effigy. That’s the whole point of a boycott – to change the economic incentives at play or, at the very least, to not contribute to the coffers of a company doing something to which you object.

          Say a vegan decided not to go to Mini-Stop because they sold animal products. Would his boycott change the company’s practices? Nope. Would it make sense? Perfect sense.

          The ouendan are rather pathetic. We will certainly try to convince other Swallows fans, but our ouendan are not yours, Yomiuri’s, or Chunichi’s, much less Hiroshima’s panoply. We have an ouendan who are there, but are loud, patterened cheerers more than cheerleaders. For that, I’ll tip my hat you folks in the yellow and black. (I won’t tip it for long, though – I know what happens when the Tigers lose and I can do without head injury.)

        • Perhaps you're new to the idea of a boycott. The argument you raise in calling the boycott “absurd” is an argument in favor of, not against, a boycott. That a company is just doing what it thinks will make money is exactly why boycotts exist – if they work, the change the economics of the situation. If people refrained from boycotts just because the targets of those boycotts were trying to make money, the concept wouldn't exist. It'd be like the police not arresting a bank robber because he was only trying to get money and that is, after all, what bank robbers do.

          Even if it comes down to just me, the boycott stands – that's the entire point of a boycott.

          • christopheramanolangtree

            Yes but how many of you are going to boycott the store? Five, Ten, One? This is the absurdity, it won't have any impact. The store isn't even going to notice the difference. If you're going to boycott make it effective and make it have an impact. Make it a campaign and bring in others. The point about a boycott is you do it to change the situation – otherwise its meaningless. I happen to think you're onto something but you do need to do a bit more. How about picketting the store on match days?

          • Why are you operating on the assumption that we are making no attempt to bring others in?

          • christopheramanolangtree

            Because you haven't said that you are attempting to do so. If you are you do need to say so – it makes you look more organised and also indicates that you have a chance of success and furthermore gets the message out. The committed will easily boycott but the uncommitted won't unless they see enough to make them jump on the bandwagon. The latter are the ones you want to make your boycott snowball. For a successful boycott, publicity is the key.

          • Silly me, I thought I'd written a post calling for a boycott, talked about it with people, and so on. I also thought it was a boycott about the tat sold in a convenience store.

            You seem to have been converted, though. For a guy who thought it absurd to boycott a store that was trying to make money, you now seem awfully keen on how we carry out a boycott. You want to take it over for us? We'll cheer for you as you picket.

          • christopheramanolangtree

            I thought you wrote a post about Jingu which called for a boycott but the boycott was not the main subject of the post. If you're going to have a boycott you need a lot more support than what's in this blogg. I'm just offering advice to you on how to go about it and maybe get an effective result. Whilst I do think that stores need to make money I also think you have a point about what should be sold in the vicinity of Jingu. However, if its just the people who read this blog then it is an absurdity – you need more people to make it effective and that means more organisation. Otherwise it's futile.

          • We are still talking about tat being sold in a convenience store, right? Not really worth much more effort than we've already expended on it. If you'd like to publicize it more aggressively, we've got your back. Beyond that, we shan't be spending our money there – we'll reach who we reach, but it's not like Mini-Stop is using child labor – all things in proportion.

  • A few weeks ago I was walking past Jingu and you know between the bleachers and the infield there is a section where players go out the stadium after games? That part was open so I entered the stadium onto the field and I saw people fixing the stadium. Anyhow, I was in right field on the turf and saw towards home and I noticed that the outfield is at least 20cm or 30cm lower than the infield. Which means that from an outfielder perspective it is tough to throw towards home as it is uphill, from a hitters perspective it is easy to hit home runs. As I was in the outfield, I got to see Jingu from a new perspective. I soon left the stadium before some security or whoever approached me. Jingu is compact and nice. With a natural turf and the infield fences removed the stadium would be 100 times nicer but its not going to happen so Im not even going to get upset about it. I still love Jingu. Looking forward to a brand new season.