Look at that - not a bad week last week. Of games I chose to bet, I actually went 6-3 and that's counting double-dipping on the Vikings at 9.5 once Sam Bradford's knee had a dentist appointment during the game Sunday. Speaking of that, one thing that pissed me off this week was Zimmer's quote after the game.
"Sam is fine. He might play one game from now, he might play six weeks from now. Either way, he's fine."
I guess if you're not going to say anything that's one way to do it, but it reminds me an awful lot of Lati and I trying to coordinate a ride from one of his relatives in small-town Ireland. In the States, if you're going to pick someone up, you're basically giving them turn-by-turn updates. "Just left, be there in 10." "Be on the NW corner since I'm coming from that way." In Ireland, it's "I'll be out front of the pub on Brady between 4:15 and 7 unless I forget." OK then.
This past weekend, my beloved Hiroshima Carp clinched the Central League pennant for the second year in a row. As you may know, I've been a die-hard Carps guy for about 4 months and 6 days or so. So it's been a long time coming for me. Anyway, since I vow to never or almost never write about football in these, I'm going to note my favorite things about my experience watching Japanese baseball since I was too tired and too lazy to write any of this shit down when it was actually fresh and topical. Anyway.
Rams -2 at Niners
Buying tickets was kind of a wild goose chase except if you were chasing a goose and all the people who could potentially help you don't speak really any English. I was pretty convinced that I had totally fucked this up and ruined the whole trip by not securing tickets beforehand once I failed miserably trying to buy tickets on a copy machine using a Japanese touch screen at what amounts to a Walgreens. Seriously, you can buy GA tickets to these games, as well as movie tickets, and apparently a bunch of other shit on these goofy copy machines in the convenience stores in town, which is extremely Japan. May as well be flying cars. Anyway, we finally found a secondary market ticket store after being as literal as we possibly could over Google translate to this guy who owned a store that sold Carps merch outside the stadium. Former Twin legend Kris Johnson was on our tickets.
Ravens -3.5 in London vs. Jags
The culture around baseball there is a biiiiiiit different. There were almost zero bars surrounding the ballpark like there are in most places in the States, a fact that dumbfounded the ignorant American as we entered the ballpark with about 10 thousand others 2 AND A HALF hours before a surefire Friday night rainout. There was sincerely a 100% chance of rain the whole night and we just went on a prayer since we were booked to leave the next day. The rest of the people, not sure what they were thinking. Gates were open and Asahis were being sold at a rapid pace to everyone in attendance. There were even beer vendors who wore fuckin' kegs on their backs refilling beers in the stands. This all went on until after their version of the national anthem and starting lineups, immediately after which they called the game.
Broncos -3 at Bills
After the rainout we went to our regular Hiroshima dive (we'd been there the night before so we were basically a couple regular Mayday Malones in Boston). About ten minutes talking baseball with the (English speaking) locals and we made the executive decision to postpone our journey home to the last possible second in order to see what we'd been missing our whole lives.
Saints +5.5 at Panthers
- A girl who was about my age posited that I was 37 years of old to my face which should have been a wake-up call for the lifestyle.
- The locals thought I looked like former Twin Randy Bass, who likes like I would if I gained 40 pounds was actually 37 years old. The reveal after I Googled him was an all-time cool your jets moment for me.
- This is Randy Bass.
- I had about 8 Makers on the rocks in 3 hours.
- The owner studied abroad in Omaha and spoke better English than I did. She had memorabilia all over her bar and I vowed to send her some Twins gear to display, which I naturally have not done yet. I need to do that and go back.
- Idiot American moment: I was talking about how we're Twins fans. "It's Nishioka's team in the States, remember him? We have a guy from Korea named Byungho Park now, do you know him?" That's like saying "oh, you're from Canada, huh? Well, the Wild have some guys from Finland, do you know them?" Still cringing, which my therapist says is bad.
Steelers -7 at Bears
Everyone had Kuroda jerseys. Like everyone. He's like Jesus there.
Falcons -3 at Lions
There was a balloon toss during the middle of the fifth inning which is probably the coolest thing I've ever experienced at a baseball game. Completely earnest, it's the closest I've ever felt to Heaven.
Browns -1.5 at Colts
You can bring pizza and beer into the ballpark, which we certainly fucking did. Night one, I saw a family in the bleachers with a 20 inch Costco pizza and we were all over that the next day.
Bucs at Vikings (no line)
The stadium was unbelievable. Perfect size, just a little smaller than a Major League park with wide open concourses, the city to one side and mountains to the other. Picturesque.
I mean, come on.
Texans +13.5 at Patriots
During the rainout game, we met a Japanese fella who wanted to practice his English on a couple Yanks. I remember him buying us like 3 beers a piece, asking if we were married, then asking if we were gay, which, OK then. Anyway, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. He was nice as hell all things considered. Naturally, he had his Kuroda jersey in tow.
Dolphins -6 at Jets
They don't fuck around with the rules. Before the rainout game, I asked an usher if I could go down by the dugout and take a photo at roughly field level. No dice. I tried reasoning, it's just a photo, I'll be right back up. You can escort us back up to the concourse. Nope. No can do. I may be projecting but it's not the only experience I had where I noticed just how much more orderly Japanese culture is than American culture. I'd have had a better chance convincing an usher to let me play shortstop and hit 5th than I had trying to get closer to that damn field.
Giants +6 at Eagles
Their tarp was dope as hell. It just covered the dirt and let the rain fall on the infield grass. I'm not entirely sure it's practical but it looked really, really cool.
Seahawks +2.5 at Titans
In the middle of the aforementioned fifth inning, there was also like a ten minute break during which the grounds crew basically re-sodded the whole field and put the batters' boxes and the baselines down again, etc. The President of the Saints kindly informed me that it was so the players could have a smoke break, which is amazing.
Bengals +8.5 at Packers
Hiroshima is a fuckin' baseball town. When they're good, the people who can't get seats for the game line the streets near the stadium and watch on TVs through windows and then party their fucking faces off after a W. It was like a Japanese St. Louis.
Chiefs -3 at Chargers
Between two different trips and after a combined 4 hours at Mazda Zoom Zoom Stadium (I call it the Zoom, not a big deal), we finally got to see some baseball. The Carps' leadoff man hit a dribbler between first and the mound and beat the throw. The crowd went fuckin' ape shit. My best estimate at a comparable atmosphere is the atmosphere at the Auburn stadium when they returned the missed field goal for game-winning TD as time expired. These people like baseball more than us and I love them for it.
Raiders -3 at Washington
The Carp were playing the Yomiuri Giants who are like the Yankees of NPB. They stuck all the folks from Tokyo up in their own section.
Cowboys -3 at Cards
Best baseball experience of my life. If you love baseball, you HAVE to go over for a game. Go Carp, go.