The summer series for highschool baseball is going on right now. Usually a whole town stops to watch their school play. The television coverage of high school baseball is, in my opinion, better than when they show professional baseball...why? they show the whole game.
Whenever you watch professional baseball (Japan's major league), chances are that if the game runs past 9-ish at night you will not see the end of the game, sponsors and advertising seem to control what can be shown and for how long.
Satoshi always says, "this would never fly in America". My MIL (another baseball fan) says, "they should show the last couple innings of the game rather than the beginning.
Oh and if the pro baseball game is tied, they will only play up to 12 innings, if after 12 innings it is still tied, the stats end as a tie. Not like the fight to the death style of the MLB where a tied game can go many, many innings until a winner is declared.
Anyway, getting back to high school baseball, they have a spring tournament and summer tournament to determine who is the best in Japan. Apparently for the spring tournament the amount of participating teams is less than the summer. Summer has 49 teams vying for the title.
Though the Spring tournament is not as pronounced, it is still an honor just the same to play.
So, we went to Koshien (the stadium that holds the tournament, which is also the stadium for the Hanshin Tigers), this past Saturday.
This year was the 91st tournament (I think the only time they did not have this was during WWII).
Everyday, for 14 days, there are about 4 games played...that is a LOT of baseball.
When we arrived, there was an announcement that all seats at the stadium were filled, still it didn't stop people from sitting on the stairs (talk about fire hazard!) in the outfield.
The outfield seats were free, which is probably why there were tons of people...
Since I didn't want to bake in the sun, I told Satoshi to go ahead and watch the games...and headed across the street to Lalaport Koshien (a mall).
From the entrance it looked like a small place, but inside, the mall turned out to be really long. It only had 2 floors but walking the mall for two hours took its toll on my feet!
At about noon, Satoshi came out for lunch. We bought some items from Itoyokado (a supermarket), then sat outside the stadium and ate.
While eating, we ran into an older alumni of Satoshi's university baseball team, who kindly gave us tickets to sit near 3rd base. (Thank you!)
Satoshi was very happy, I wasn't because we still had to sit in the sun. The seats were REALLY close together too. You can see a photo of my legs near the back of the people in front of us.
Many people were burnt, fire engine red! (see the man in the red shorts??)
There is a special item only sold during the summers at Koshien called kachiwari, this is a bag of ice, 200 yen (about US$2), open the bag, stick in the straw you are given and suck up the cool water. While you are waiting for the ice to melt, the bag will keep you cool too.
This turned out to be a great buy, it took over an hour for the ice to melt.
And if you thought that the cheering for pro baseball was wild, the highschool baseball cheering is just as loud and crazy.
The area we were sitting in, was a cheering section for a team, who, unfortunately lost their game.
After a game is played, both teams bow to each other to thank each other for the game, then the school song of the winning team is played.
Then both teams go to an area on the field to scoop up dirt from the field as a souvenir of the game. Usually the losing team cries as they scoop up their dirt.
Some say that the dirt is sprinkled on their home field to wish them luck for next year's tournaments. Others say that the dirt is kept in bottles as reminders of their experiences. Whatever they do with them I think the overall experience is a good way to bring the community and team members closer.
Saturday's breakfast was a salad marinade muffin at McDonald's...bacon, a slice of cheese and veggies marinated in Italian dressing on an english muffin...not too heavy like some of their other breakfast items...230 yen (about US$2.30)
Dinner was a shared Anchor Porter...a dark beer from San Francisco, 355 ml, 5.6% alcohol...385 yen (about US$3.85). This wasn't smoky but it was good.
and Greek Nachos...recipe to be posted soon.
Fireworks...we could see the Inagawa Fireworks show from our apartment (between two light poles).
How was your weekend?