The 2009 NPB season opener has come and gone. As expected, it was a spirited affair, with long queues for the fans for freebies and food, and an electric atmosphere in the stadium as all waited for the first pitch of the new season.
Outside, much was going on, with free giveaways to commemorate the season opener and this year’s theme of the 40 year celebration of the Lotte Orions/Marines. John and I got there a bit late (not to the game itself, but late for free stuff) so I couldn’t score a commemorative flag, but I did get the new Bobby V pin for 2009. Hardly seems worth the wait in a long queue, but it’s free Marines swag, so I can’t complain.
The Narashino High School Symphonic Band was onhand to perform for the opening ceremonies. The warmed up outside the stadium with a few songs, including the famous Lotte Lucky 7 theme.
John and I headed to our usual outfield outpost. This game was a novel outfield experience for me as I’ve never sat in the reserved outfield seats, usually I fight for a prime unreserved spot. Ours were in the front row, no less, which isn’t a bad place at all to watch a game.
The cheering section was incredibly amped up, and as the Marines took the field and the Lions went to the plate, the cheering section sang a song to Bobby V.
I’ve only been to home games at about half the stadiums in Japan, but I can’t say I’ve ever seen the sort of love and support of a fan base for their manager as I have from the Marines fans for Bobby. Perhaps I am off base, but I just can’t picture songs and huge banners for Hara in the Tokyo Dome or for Nomura in Sendai. Does it happen?
As for the game itself, well, the result wasn’t good. Lions take the opener in a 5-2 victory. Unsurprisingly, they won it on a pair of long balls from Bocachica and Hosokawa. Marines were actually on board first in this game, as new 2nd baseman Iguchi drove in a pair in the third, which also drove the crowd into a frenzy as if it were a sayonara hit. Of course, I was among those screaming and dancing like an idiot.
Iguchi-senshu also had a fantastic play at second with a leaping grab and a doubling off of the runner at second to stave off an early Lions rally. If he continues the great defensive work and the clutch hitting… As I mentioned last post, hope does spring eternal.