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A Day at Chiba Marine Stadium

Baseball news from Japan and Asia

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Featuring Michael Westbay (a.k.a. westbaystars)

Michael Westbay has been blogging about Pro Yakyu since before the word "blog" entered the vernacular. Here he writes about Pro Yakyu in general, and the Yokohama BayStars in particular.

A Day at Chiba Marine Stadium

3 replies. Most recent reply: Mar 13, 2008 11:04 PM by westbaystars

Today (March 13, 2008) has been a very full day. On the road by 8:00 with my Dad, we arrived at Chiba Marine Stadium a little before 9:30. We got guest passes and were shown onto the field by our sponsor for the day, Larry Rocca, Director and Deputy Managing Director of International Business Development (aka Marketing Guy with Too Long a Title).

The first thing we saw was Valentine-kantoku doing a video promotion for National Hypertension Day. For NHD last year, the Marines set a new record for most peoples' blood pressure checked at a single site in a day. They hope to break their own record this year as everyone should "know your numbers."

While Bobby was in the background shooting his commercial, I was introduced to the programming director of BS 12 (TwellV). This is a high-vision channel that will be carrying 60 Marines games in high definition throughout Japan this year.

High definition video cameras in the stadium were just one renovation to Chiba Marine during this off season. The Swallows and Tigers have also had renovations done to their respective stadiums, Jingu and Koshien ("spoken like a Central League fan," as Bobby pointed out - oops). But the Marines were certainly not to be out done. The new scoreboard support high definition digital video, and looks beautiful, even in full daylight.

Also, there are new picnic boxes on the third base side, 30 boxes where groups of up to 5 can enjoy the game at a patio table with chairs. (This is where I want to sit.) There is also a new deck up above the bleachers in left field where groups of up to 120 (I think he said) can reserve for a game party.

And speaking of parties, there is a party room on the third base side, enclosed in floor to ceiling one-way glass with its own private patio deck.

Back to meeting people, I met with the Assistant Director of Information Systems with whom I could really talk shop. You know, it's amazing how I get the usual polite greeting when I introduce myself of "Michael Westbay." But as soon as I say "of," eyes open wide and an excitement bubbles up. "Oh, I look at that site all the time."

"But what data can I provide that you can't already get from NPB-BIS? I mean, that's my primary source via newspapers and other sites."

"Oh, no. Your information is much better. Much more complete."

It was eventually explained to me that the NPB-BIS system (which I've never had the pleasure of getting my hands on - but have heard a lot about) has a great deal to be desired in terms of the interface. This site is basically laid out so that I can easily find data about players. It appears that the IT staff of the Marines (and most likely other teams) also finds it easier to use than NPB-BIS. One of the guys wanted to call the NPB-BIS representative for a consultation with me.

Long story cut short: I seem to be a bit of a celebrity in the Pro Yakyu IT circles. This came as quite a shock. (But I'll admit, a pleasant one.)

When I realized that the Marines would be hosting the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, I hit on a plan. I'm sure many of you remember this video:

[Video no longer available.]

It was first posted on The Marinerds Blog back on February 11, 2008. In the video, Nomura-kantoku responds to some kids asking "sign, sign" with "sine, cosine, tangent." As someone who enjoyed trigonometry in high school (I recall writing programs that made art out of trig functions just for fun), this one had me laughing out loud. I'd always thought of Nomura-kantoku's cantankerousness as being entertaining, but to call on some trigonometric functions with some kids was who don't understand what he's talking about, that was just over the top. I could appreciate Nomura-kantoku in a whole new way.

So, my plan was to take formulas or the diagram on this Wikipedia page and present it to Nomura-kantoku, asking "sign, sign."

While talking with someone outside the Marines' dugout, a familiar face appeared just inside. The person I was talking with asked if I knew who that was, and I immidiately answered, "Dan Nomura." (Everyone seems to call him "Don" now.) I was introduced, and I asked if he thought his father would be offended by my plan. He didn't think that Nomura-kantoku wouldn't object, and seemed to like the idea. (You know, the Japanese press really vilified Dan/Don Nomura back when he got Nomo and later Irabu to go to the Majors. But he was truly a nice, friendly guy. Great smile.)

So later, when I was hanging outside of the Rakuten dugout in anticipation of Nomura-kantoku coming out onto the field, Dan came out and called me over. He then brought me to the visiting manager's office and introduced me. I pulled out a sign board with the diagram to the left on it and explained that Nomura-kantoku had been inspiring to technical Pro Yakyu fans world-wide (so I may have exagerated a bit) with his "sine, cosine, tangent" gag during camp. This was to commemorate such gag. Oh, and "sign, sign."

He chucked and said that there were all kinds of people out there. I can accept that as him having enjoyed it.

Oh, yea. And after all of this running around, meeting people, talking about information technology needs, how Lotte is reaching out to the fans (Yokohama looks almost child-like in their attempts at fan service compared to this professional group in Chiba), and much more, there was a game played.

Kobayashi had serious control problems, scraping by with only allowing two runs through 5 innings. Komi-chan, Sikorski, and Hattori were lights out in the 6th, 7th, and 8th. Then Itoh struggled, giving up two runs in the 9th. Lotte's only offense to mention was Ohmatsu's solo home run in the 7th.

As those of you who have been around here a long time know, I'm a closet Marine fan. Despite the home team losing today, I'd really like to head out that way more often this season. The Marines' organization is really one class act.

My Dad commented, "I'm glad I'm out of the rat race. They just work too hard." Ah, but that hard work is for team member #26, the fans.
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Re: A Day at Chiba Marine Stadium

[ Author: BigManZam | Posted: Mar 14, 2008 9:08 AM | Posts: 1543 | From: Seattle, WA | CLM Fan | Registered: Mar, 2005 ]
Nice entry. I would've given you a question to ask, but I just can't think of anything to ask the Marines. I just want to be able to watch as many of their games as possible, even at an ungodly hour here in the US. The past couple seasons have been torture, and I guess NPB lost out to MLB as far as I'm concerned, as I was following the Mariners a ton last year.

Ah, I just thought of a good question. When are they going to stop messing around and get my boy Makoto Kosaka back?

Re: A Day at Chiba Marine Stadium

[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Mar 14, 2008 10:46 AM | Posts: 35252 | From: Yokohama, Japan | YBS Fan | Registered: Aug, 2001 ]
I had been a Kosaka fan as well, and deeply regretted seeing him go to the Giants. And what has he done with the Giants? Almost nothing. Has he lost his heart for the game? That's almost what it seems like.

But going back to Lotte will be tough. The middle infield looks like it'll be Nishioka and Ortiz. I had hardly noticed Ortiz last season, except for several spectacular plays. He had another fielding gem while I was there yesterday, fielding the ball behind the second base bag and throwing the batter out at first. It's almost odd how Ortiz had quietly come in and done so well at second without anyone noticing.

I don't remember seeing Nishioka yesterday. Nemoto and Watanabe Masato split the game at short.

I'd rather see Kosaka as the backup to both Nishioka and Ortiz as well. But is that based on nostalgia or Kosaka's current ability? It would be nice to see an reinvigorated Kosaka - and maybe getting him back from the Giants will do that.

Re: A Day at Chiba Marine Stadium

[ Author: Guest: 26-1/2 | Posted: Mar 30, 2008 10:32 PM ]
You really hit it off in Chiba. The DDMDoIBD called you a greay guy and said to feel free to email you anytime! I, much like BigManZam, follow along from the states. While I don't have the frame of comparison you have I did see a hard-working, professional group when I visited last year during Stage 1 of the Climax Series last October...definitely an extension of and inspired by the manager.
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