We here at Tsubamegun started writing game reports part way through the 2008 season. Since then, we haven’t missed an official game. (Would you believe we actually covered pre-season games in 2009?) Tomorrow, Opening Day 2015, will mark our our seventh Opening Day and our eighth overall season of covering the Swallows. Looking back at our Opening Day write ups it’s interesting to see how much has changed since we started covering this team. Here are the links to our annual Opening Day write ups with some random comments thrown in.
2009 – What a difference six years makes. Only two players on the 2009 Swallows’ Opening Day starting lineup are still active on the team. One of those players, Masanori Ishikawa was making his second straight Opening Day start, the third of his career overall. The other still-active player, Hiroyasu Tanaka, was making his fourth straight Opening Day start.
2010 – The 2010 Opening Day lineup looked very much like the 2009 lineup with the only change coming in the form of Takahiro Araki making his debut at shortstop. Araki lost his starting job the next day and was supplanted by a combination of Atsushi Fujimoto and Yuji Onizaki, and later a young Shingo Kawabata.
2011 – Opening Day 2011 was pushed back due to the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and the Swallows started their season in Yamaguchi. The lineup was shaken up from the previous Opening Days with Josh Whitesell and Wladimir Balentien starting in place of Jamie D’Antona and Aaron Guiel. Newly acquired Osamu Hamanaka found himself starting in left, and Keizo Kawashima made his triumphant return to the top team. Keizo’s return was short lived as he got injured, and Hamanaka only lasted 2 games as a starter. The 2011 Opening Day roster bore little resemblance to the team’s final form which saw the emergence of Kawabata, Hatake, and Ueda during the season.
2012 – Opening Day 2012 was Ishikawa’s fourth straight Opening Day start and one of his finest. Ishikawa no-hit the Giants for 8 innings and ended the night with a 2-hitter. This was also the first game of the post-Aoki era that saw Hiroyasu taking the lead off spot and Ueda taking over at center.
2013 – This was the year that saw the end of Ishikawa’s Opening Day start streak as Tateyama took the mound for the Swallows’ first game. Jun Matsui started in right field in place of Balentien who injured himself during the Netherlands run in that year’s WBC. The era of sixth place baseball started with a drubbing that unfortunately became a regular occurrence.
2014 – Last year’s Opening Day roster will probably look similar to tomorrow’s Opening Day roster. Nishiura made his pro debut at short and hit a grand slam. The other 2014 starter who won’t take the field tomorrow is Aikawa who has moved on with his career.
Random Facts from the Tsubamegun era of Opening Days
- The Swallows have gone 2-4 on Opening Day so far in the Tsubamegun era.
- 5 different shortstops have started on Opening Day for the Swallows in the Tsubamegun era. Only Keizo Kawashima (2009, 2011) has multiple appearances at short.
- Hiroyasu Tanaka and Ryoji Aikawa share the most number of Opening Day appearances in the Tsubamegun era with five starts apiece.
- Dave and Scott have written two Opening Day reports which ties them for the most Opening Day reports written. While Chris and Garrett have managed to report Opening Day reports, I have never managed to pull the assignment.
- My predicted 2015 Opening Day lineup. Ogawa (P), Nakamura (C), Hatakeyama (1B), Yamada (2B), Kawabata (3B), Obiki (SS), Milledge (LF), Yuhei (CF), Yuichi (RF).
- Opening Day, like the Tsubamegun era, and its assigned importance is completely arbitrary in the grand scheme of things.