This year, we’re thankful for. . .

Happy Thanksgiving, American Tsubamegun-ites.

There's another season coming. Be thankful.

We bitch a bit round these parts, and I am personally to blame for much of that. I can find the cloud around any silver lining, blow it out of proportion, and try people’s patience bitching about it, although I swear that’s only for matters pertaining to the diamond (or diamonds, but I’ve only done that once).

I was all set to put up a belated post on what sucked about the 2010 season (there’s nothing that doesn’t suck about a record-length game that ends in a shittily-played tie, in the m*th*#rf*ck!ng Japan Series, giving us another pointless playoff tie. Competitive events that end sans result have no merit and need never have happened. Two CL teams, yet again, might as well have not taken the field, etc.), when I thought I’d take a different tack. We’re out of the hot, muggy, crabby barbecue pit of the Tokyo summer, when baseball leads to the ambiguity of repeated disappointment, and into the relatively mild chill of the Tokyo winter and the reliable, indoor-voices, joys of opera season. We have the space of a bit of time and it turns out some good stuff happened in the 2010 season.

Such as:

  • Although Tokyo didn’t make the Climax Series this year, they actually had a much better, winning season and were six and a half games out instead of 22. Last year was a season that showed the absurdity of having half of the league make it to the playoffs. This year was decidedly more competitive.
  • The partial remodel of Jingu was successful in a number of ways: the toilets are much better now, not only cleaner and nicer, but laid out better, allowing people to get in an out in a reasonable manner; the separate line for sausages has not only boosted sausage sales, but left little wait for my customary, but oft-regretted chicken basket; the installation of a Baskin-Robbins near the bottom of the ramp leading the bleachers has relieved me of the duty of keeping an eye peeled for the ice cream girl when my wife comes to games; there’s a KFC near our in ramp, which I, in theory, could patronize some day.
  • Takada is gone.

– Garrett

  • Yoshinori and Muranaka turned a corner and had themselves respectable seasons. They showed some unexpected poise and stability and were a validation of Araki’s approach to grooming young pitchers. If the progress continues, and Nakazawa follows suit, then that will mean very positive things moving forward.
  • The Swallows have so many quality young infielders that they cut Kajimoto (will definitely find a home elsewhere) and didn’t even flinch when Iwamura resurfaced in Japan looking for a new team. Onizaki, Kawabata and Araki (not the pitching coach mentioned earlier) should provide plenty of competition for each other and hopefully keep Fujimoto and Kawashima on the bench for most of 2011.
  • I saved a lot of money this year by switching to shochu. With the ‘Beer Oji’ off to corporate pastures, I decided to find a new way to drown out Takada’s decisions. Apparently the switch was enough to drown him right off the team. Haven’t looked back since.

Christopher

As a Canadian, I already celebrated Thanksgiving last month, but I think it’s important that we never take things for granted, and thus I’d like to add my thanks to this list.

  • First of all, I’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of great people through Swallows baseball, for which I am very thankful. There are too many people to name, but I’m particularly thankful to Chris, David, and Garrett for giving me a chance to contribute to this site.
  • I’m thankful for the continued development of Hiroyasu Tanaka and Yasushi Iihara. Tanaka quietly put together a very solid season both offensively and defensively, and was a consistent presence in our lineup. Iihara also showed improvement in both facets of the game, and is no longer a liability on the field.
  • I’m thankful for our fairly deep pitching corp. We have a solid rotation in Ishikawa, Tateyama, Muranaka, and Yoshinori, and bullpen stars like Masubuchi, Matsuoka, Oshimoto, and Lim. While every team always needs more pitching, we’re certainly no exception. But I feel we’re deeper than any other team in the Central league, something that gives me great hope going into next season.
  • Honestly, I’m just thankful that I know that the Swallows will continue to exist next year and into the foreseeable future. As a former Expo fan, I can sympathize with Yokohama fans that are living in a state of constant uncertainty. I’m glad we can afford to bitch about baseball related stuff.

-Kozo

I am thankful that:

  • Takada is no longer anywhere near my ballclub (touch wood).
  • We have Tateyama and Ishikawa as our team aces. Despite an injury affected start, Tateyama proved once more that he is still the man. Ishikawa also showed the enormity of his stones by coming back from a horrific start to the year (primarily due to poor run support from Takada’s Swallows) to shine as usual.
  • Ogawa will be back next year. He pleasantly surprised me as an interim-manager and I will be interested to see what the Ogawa-Araki combo can do with a full season to play with.
  • Yomiuri choked down the stretch and in the post-season. With the added bonus of Marc Kroon providing a lot of the entertainment as the Giants sunk.
  • Hanshin choked down the stretch and in the post-season. No added bonus really needed here.
  • Aoki is still a Swallow.
  • I had HDTV coverage of every Tokyo game.
  • I have HDTV coverage of the English Premier League to tide me over until next April.
  • Kozo joined team-Tsubamegun.
  • People actually read this website.
  • Takada is no longer anywhere near my ballclub. (Erm, did I mention that?)

– David

Garrett again: For what it’s worth, I’d point out that Kozo did not get in on the Takada-swatting. I count that as a point in favor of his having joined the team – differing views and all. (Don’t tell your Mom, er. . . Mum, but he’s Canadian and all.) I’d also draw a bit of attention to our own Christopher, who has worked hard, very, very hard, to bring Tokyo Swallows merch to the masses. A lot of you contact us, a lot of you sympathize with us, Christopher makes it happen on the streets, where you can represent. More is to come. For those who haven’t noticed, nearly three years of day-by-day reports on Japanese baseball have been filed in English, with the proper partisan slant and the details and “inside baseball” the papers won’t give you, almost entirely due to the tireless dedication of our own David Watkins and Christopher Pellegrini. You should try hard to meet them. And Kozo; he’s rad, too.

On top of it all, though, you’re reading this. You rock.

  • DeGavph

    Great website! I found out about this site through NPB tracker.

    I’m a huge Swallows fan myself, and I’m really thankful that there’s a website about the Swallows in English that I can actually read – my Japanese is close to zero.

    Also I’m thankful that I don’t have to see Lim wearing a Yomiuri jersey. I’ve taken a tremendous liking to this guy during the 3 years he pitched for the Swallows.

    • DeGavph,
      Glad you found us (thanks, Patrick!). Hope to hear a lot more from you in 2011!

      Happy New Year,
      Christopher Pellegrini