Sunday, August 5, 2007
Take Me Out to the Ballgame
OK, OK………OK. I’ve never meant for this blog to become another “travelogue of my adventures in a foreign land…including PICS” but this one and only time I just could not help myself and so I plead for your indulgence.
A SPECIAL NOTE TO MY NON-JAPANESE AND/OR BASEBALL HATING READERS-
YOU ARE HEREBY ALLOWED TO IGNORE THE FOLLOWING
But Sweet Baby I went to KOSHIEN!
The briefest of histories- In Japan there is only one baseball Mecca (fuck those Kyojin lovers) and that is this Old-School, Rawkin’and revered Palace of Baseball in Osaka called Koshien-
Home to the Kick-Ass Hanshin Tigers.
If Tokyo Dome is the turf of the hated Giants (think Yankees, and no...I don't hate the Yankees...only the idea of the Yankees)) then Koshien is the House of the Red Sox-or perhaps Cubs- Nation. A beautiful old gem of a Ballpark that is Fan friendly and welcome to one and all.
I’ll keep it simple- you can’t come here and NOT have a good time.
The Beer is GIANT, cheap (450 yen and no limits), cold and you are encouraged to drink as much as you possibly can manage. The food is likewise affordable, tasty (sorry, no hot dogs) and will satisfy. Beautiful Tiger girls are everywhere and I, very luckily, had one sitting right next to me.
The crowd, in a word, ROWDY!
Koshien Fans are famous for their energy and devotion and in Japan these words take on a significant meaning. When I write energy I mean that the fans start cheering before the game actually even begins and don’t stop- EVER- until the final pitch is thrown…….oh…………and then there is the Hero interview (a brief Q&A broadcast over the PA) on the field immediately following the game and the almost maniacal, non-stop uproar doesn’t end until then.
And when I write devotion I mean a love so pure and genuine that all ages, genders and social classes live and die by the fortunes of their beloved Tigers.
On this particular great and good evening the Tigers kicked some Baystar ass (final score, 9-4) and the contest was decided early by a screaming, bases loaded double ripped into the left field corner by my fellow American Andy Sheets.
The party rolled on into the beautiful cool night and the fans were in baseball ecstasy.
I tried to get a shot of some Osaka B-boys sitting next to us but Toritani-san had just stroked a long home run and the stands were ROCKIN’ so please excuse the lack of focus.
During the 7th inning stretch the crowd sings the Tigers Fight Song (Mount Rokko something) and then we release our balloons everywhere- don't really know why but this moment always seems............... orgasmic.
All in all it was strictly a lovely night of Baseball heaven and while we’re on the subject- Is there any better heavens around?