October 25, 2008

Hanshin Tigers - Season Wrap-Up

Well, as the Tampa Rays and Philadelphia Phillies continue battling each other in the World Series back home, it seemed like a good time to do a wrap-up post on the Hanshin Tigers (who are now off playing golf, or doing whatever it is that Japanese ball players do in the off-season.)

For us, our first season as Hanshin Tigers fans was bittersweet.

On the one hand, it was terrific. We fell in love with Koshien Stadium. We became fans of many of the players, and even friends with some. We got to enjoy many games. And we learned to really love Japanese baseball. We will continue to follow the Tigers well after we leave Japan.

Unfortunately, however, their once-promising season ended in frustration. The Hanshin Tigers vs. Tokyo Giants rivalry is always described as Red Sox vs. Yankees, with Hanshin playing the role of the Red Sox and Tokyo playing the role of the Yankees (but this is circa pre-2004, when it was the Yankees who played deep into the post-season every year while the Red Sox went home). After an incredible hot start, this season played out that description to the tee. The Giants charged back from 13 games out in July to catch and pass Hanshin during the last week of the season. Hanshin's manager, Okada, ashamed for having blown the division to the Giants, offered his resignation even before the playoffs began.

Although Hanshin finished 2nd and still made the playoffs, they were ousted abruptly by the 3rd place Chunichi Dragons in a best of three series, who won the last game by hitting a HR off Hanshin's star closer Fujikawa to break a scoreless tie. And so it goes for the Tigers...

Currently, the Giants are playing upstart Chunichi for the Central League title, while in the Pacific the Seibu Lions are taking on the Hokkaido-based Nippon Ham Fighters.

1 comment:

bobarah said...

The Japanese baseball players don't play golf in the off season, they keep playing baseball!!! Even the stars like Fujikawa go to Fall Camp. Scott will be playing lots of golf though :)