Matsuzaka Makizushi

Anonymous writes in Baseball Teams Good Enough to Eat:

Better watch out that the Red Sox don’t put ballpark sushi on their menu and sneak Ichiro away from the Yankees!

The way the Yankees and Red Sox are going after Japanese players, pretty soon they’ll be able to do Japanese Roll Call:

Gata go now ….

Toaster’s hunkering down with a big plate of sushi in preparation for tonight’s Yanks-Sawx game. Matsuzaka pitched yesterday and Wakefield is scheduled for tonight. Trying to hit a knuckleball is like trying to pick up uncooked rice with chopsticks.


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This might be covered by an F.A.Q. because this is Japanese Baseball 101, but I’ll take a crack at it anyway.

If you’re looking for chants like “Let’s go [team]” there really aren’t any in that light.

The cheering section/oendan [OH-END-DAHN] (usually situated in the home team’s side’s bleachers) orchestrates all group cheering but is almost exclusively for batters (as each has their own song played while they are up). The only thing I have consistently heard the cheering section say to their pitcher is when he’s in trouble – “gambare [think spanish], gambare, [pitcher’s name]” which roughly translates to “hang in there.” That’s the only consistent one I’ve heard from the cheering section and individuals.

If you want to get “philosophical” and argumentative about Japanese “passion” for the game, take away the oendan, and Japanese crowds are virtually quiet. A lot of people not in the oendan pay attention much less than the fans in the U.S. do. A few individuals every now and then will shout something, but the group oriented culture leans toward everyone cheering together.

And about the WBC – if this was in the U.S., if you heard clapping/drumming in a sort of “bom, bom, bom bom bom” or what I call the “337 beat” (I have no idea how to describe this) then those were probably actual Japanese baseball fans. If you heard something otherwise, it could have been Japanese-Americans (though, do not quote me on this since I know no Japanese-Americans). I would go so far to argue that the Korean team had loads of passion compared the Japanese fans (probably because of the large Korean population in Los Angeles and San Diego).

The only thing that springs to mind that are mildly spontaneous are a few things done by the Marines (who are actually trying to emulate American baseball a bit), and the Hanshin Tigers fan, who when a pitcher has 2 strikes, they get loud (think of something like non-verbal mumbling crescendo-ing to a sharp sound when the pitch crosses the plate).

I suppose all this rambling might be for naught because I’m not sure if you are talking about positive, negative, or whatever.

As far as negative goes, Matsuzaka was like Elmo – no one (sober) would dare insult him. At least not to the degree Yankee fans will when the Red Sox roll into the Bronx this year.

Well, there you go. All this to answer “gambare.”

Comment by Blue Velvet

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