Monday, May 17, 2004


Back during Golden Week, the Yakult Swallows were nearly golden. I went to all three of their home games at Meiji Jingu stadium against the Chunichi Dragons. I sat in my habitual location in the last row of seats at the top of Section D. Some of the nicer people I've met since moving to Tokyo have virtually engraved their names in the picnic platform that marks the very back of the stadium in right field. They get there early before every home game, and they chat for a couple of hours before the first pitch gets tossed. They have a tarp that they tape to the green, concrete deck, and they line their shoes around the perimeter before sitting down to a paperboard box of sake.
I usually drink beer. I make one of the fluorescent-green clad beer children climb to the top of the rightfield bleachers to pour me a draft beer from the camel pack that they haul from section to section. Once that's gone, I refill with cans that I've smuggled in from the dinky convenience store under Sendagaya station. I often go with friends, but I don't mind heading out on my own. The guys at the back of Section D take care of me. They taught me the umbrella song for when we score a run (it's also sung during the 7th inning stretch), and they laugh appreciatively at my deep-seated hatred of the Yomiuri Giants.
After we took care of them pretty handily during game 2 of the series this past weekend, the Giants took us apart last night. It was painful. We're the only other team in central Tokyo (there used to be three), and it's a lot like the whole Mets-Yankees thing in New York. The Yankees have all the money, all the media lusting for them, and all the marquee players. The same is true with the Giants, but perhaps to a more severe degree. Sportscasters are visibly pained on air when the Giants lose, and the amount they spend every year on their players is millions and millions of yen more than the Swallows do. Like the Yankees, the Giants have won far more pennants and championships than any other team in the league. If you want to know how I really feel about this situation, please come join us for a weekend game against the Giants some time. I tend to be a bit more vocal at the ballpark. Section D, back row.

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