Tag Archives: baseball

Dragons Are Real

Thursday, April 12, 2018: Nagoya, Japan

Chunichi Dragons 9, Tokyo Yakult Swallows 4

I sampled a baseball game on my first-ever trip to Japan.

It was a cultural experience, aided by my own incompetence.

As easy as it is for a foreigner to use Japanese public transit, it is tricky as hell to navigate something like a baseball game.

Bear in mind that I do not speak or read Japanese, and had spent all of four days in Japan.

I wandered up to the Nagoya Dome on a weeknight, entering the situation cold. My first mission: how to buy a ticket and get in.

Figuring out where to buy a ticket: simple enough.

Now where do I go?

What do I do when I get to the front of the ticket line: not so simple.

My goal: getting a ticket in the 2000-yen range (roughly 20 bucks). Through a series of very bad mime moves, pointing at the ticket price chart, and displaying two 1,000-yen bills, I did end up with a ticket.

Which turned out to be in the supporters’ section.


Talk about your full-on cultural experience.

This is one of the key things that makes Japanese baseball a bit different from the North American Way. These supporters’ sections, in the outfield, are constantly drumming, and singing, and chanting a series of chant-songs, following the cues of a cheer-master at the front of the section.

So this was interesting. I must have stuck out like sore thumb, but I went along with it, stood when everyone stood, cheered when everyone cheered, even high-fived my neighbor when Zoilo Almonte hit a first-inning home run as the home team put up three runs in the first frame.

This was not at all a sold out game, so after a couple innings trying to fit in, I snuck off and returned to one of the neighboring, non-supporter sections to take up my normal fly-on-the-wall observer role.

Other things that are different in Japan:
Pregame (and in-game) dance team.

Look out for the wall!

No warning track; just a painted line one would miss is looking up for a fly ball.

And the most civilized of all: the team offers paper cups at the entrance for people to carry their canned beer in. Can you even image that in the U.S.? At 700-750 Yen, the stadium beer is pricy for the local market, though obviously cheaper than in MLB.

Things that are similar:
Japan has video replay review, and it also takes forever in the Far East. All to overturn a bunt out with a 6-1 lead.

Pace of play — the game took more than three-and-a-half hours. So it’s understandable that after six, with the home team ahead 9-1, Dragons fans headed en masse for the exits, echoing the Dodgers look of their team’s uniforms.

Rueful observation: This would have been a great night for outdoor baseball.

Recap here.  Archived here.

Box score here.  Archived here.

Up Canada Way

Sunday July 12, Vancouver, B.C. 

Salem-Keizer Volcanoes 10, Vancouver Canadians 5
I’ll cut to the chase; Nat Bailey Stadium was a pretty cool place to watch a baseball game. We were in Vancouver on vacation, and I was pleased to find that the Canadians had a homestand during our stay.

Pandering to one of my biases, it’s an old stadium (though they’ve updated a little bit recently).

I was struck the most by its resemblance to another venerable minor league venue closer to my home: Municipal Stadium in San Jose.
It’s of a similar vintage, built to a similar design, is similarly unfussy, has a similar location in a park outside the city center, and proudly displays its history along the interior corridors.


To make this Californian even more at home, British Columbia was experiencing a severe drought.
The stadium has come down a peg from earlier decades when the home team played triple-A ball; the Pacific Coast League packed up in 1999 and moved to Sacramento.
Happily a Northweast League team arrived the next year, and I think the less high-falutin’ nature of the short-season single-A suits the homespun nature of the stadium anyway.
Short-season A is where new draft picks often get their first taste of the pros and, from the evidence on hand the Blue Jays (Vancouver’s parent team) didn’t maybe draft all that well. The Canadians started well but their bullpen was catastrophic and more than gave away the lead the team had put together through the first six innings. The lowlight was back-to-back Salem-Keizer home runs in the seventh.
One Vancouver player stood out, first for his awesome name — Earl Burl III — and then by playing aggressive and effective baseball, stroking a first-pitch RBI in his first at-bat.
He used his speed to force an error to reach base in the seventh, then hustled to break up a likely double play.

Salem=Keizer may have played better, but the Canadians looked better — the Salem-Keizer uniforms looked like T-shirts.

Nice minor league touch: $1 root beer Sunday.

And the grounds crew danced for the seventh inning stretch.


Recap here, here and here: