Actually beer was the primary commodity being sold seat-side and unlike America where only one company can sell their products, every beer company was selling their wares. Capitalism at its most quenching example. Asahi, Kirin, Suntory, Ebisu, they all had a gang of attractive employees, each wearing a baseball themed uniform with the company logo and a beer on tap backpack. Suntory even had a guy selling Suntory whiskey and soda seat-side. I wondered if the females sell more than the males.
Instead of hot dogs the food stations sold croqette balls (known as a korokke), rice or noodle bowls. Russell exclaimed, "there's no noodles in baseball!" In Tokyo there are. But we opted for the fried balls, or as we like to call them, hot, sweaty balls. They were awesome and addictive. There was a long line for them. We had two orders. Note to self, wait till after the 5th inning and the line decreases considerably. And try the squid snacks, basically squid jerky, salty and sweet, awesome.
Just like Dodger stadium there were bats. I mean real live bats, fluttering in the lights to feast on the bugs drawn by the light. Just like Dodger stadium there were drunken fans that had to be escorted out by security.
Unlike Dodger stadium there were no fat, lazy baseball players, spitting chew in disgusting gobs. All of the Japanese players were fit and all of them hustled to first base even when it was obvious they would never make it there before the throw. Russell thought it was hilarious the coach hung out with pitcher on the mound while the pitcher warmed up between innings. I didn't really see the humor in this but he was tickled. I guess it's a guy thing. He also thought it odd the #3 hitter bunted, a lot. "The #3 hitter never bunts," he kept muttering each time they bunted, which was a lot. I added, "or asks for a second cup of coffee."
Each time a new pitcher would come out his theme song would play, just like in American baseball. I told Russell my theme would be "I'm bossy" by Kelis. Smartly he did not comment. The average pitch thrown was 80 mpg vs. 90 mpg in American baseball. Russell said the Japanese players are better at the basics; American players are all about the show. Yeah, show me the money!
The game was exciting. The Tokyo Giants were playing the Yakult Swallows, (I know, intimidating name huh?) the other Tokyo team. So it was like watching the Anaheim Angels (or whatever they're called these days) and the Los Angeles Dodgers play. The crowd was crazy. The fans in the cheap seats (the outfield) chanted cheers and waved banners the entire game.
We opted for a better view, along the third base line about 25 rows up. Baseball is expensive! Our tickets cost $110.00, plus food.
I got why the announcer and all the signage were in Japanese but every once in a while he'd say something in English or flash something English on the jumbotron. It was bizzare. There would be a long diatribe of Japanese and then out of the blue the announcer would say, "First out! in his best announcer voice" with matching graphics. Ok? Why?
Like American baseball they had their equivalent of a rally monkey. In this case it was a mini umbrella. They came in a multitude of variations, some with statues on top, like hood ornaments. Apparently they're collectors items and it seemed like the entire stadium thrust them into the air when a hit was made. But instead of "rally maker" it's more like "rain maker". And make rain they did. A typhoon was blowing over Tokyo that day and it arrived at the stadium in the sixth inning. There was a torrential downpour. After 85 degree heat and 90% humidity, it was a welcome relief. We didn't even mind that we were drenched. Real umbrellas came out to handle this. It lasted ten minutes. I've never seen the infield covered so quickly. And then the rain was gone and the game was back on.
Interestingly however when I researched the umbrella rainmaker it's really not a rainmaker at all.
According to the website below, Yakult fans open a sea of umbrellas whenever the Swallows score a run - their sarcastic way of telling the opposing pitcher he'll soon be headed to the showers.