Monday, September 08, 2003

Tigers blog.

Read about the Hanshin Tigers today, an article on Time's Web site by Pico Iyer, which I was directed to by the Gweilo Diaries, a Web log out of Hong Kong. Ain't the Internet swell? Wish it had been an easy matter to keep a Web log in 1990, when I first went to Japan. It would have been a corker. So it goes. Instead of Japan in the bubble economy of the early '90s, you get a blog from exotic Schaumburg in the malaise of the early '00s.

Anyway, ca. 1991 I attended a Hanshin Tigers game. It was good fun, not so much for the game itself -- which dragged on, because of the peculiarities of the game as played in Japan -- but for the audience participation. The zealots were down in the front rows, standing up through most of the game and making the most noise (isn't that how diehard Aggies do their football?).

But even in the less enthusiastic seats, there were opportunities to show your support. At one point, someone came around distributing long, condom-like uninflated balloons. Just before the 7th-inning stretch -- I think it was then -- everyone blew these balloons up, and when the stretch came around, released them skyward. Thousands of balloons, psssssting up and around and in all directions. Who started this custom? Couldn't say. What does it mean? Can't articulate that, it would spoil things. Do they still do it? Dunno. But it was quite a sight.

Somewhere, unless we lost it in the move, we have a Hanshin Tigers hand towel. I don't remember where we got that, but I do remember a little shop on a pedestrian arcade near Namba Station, one of the main transit nexuses of Osaka; a little shop that sold nothing but Tigers goods. It was not near Tigers Stadium, which was miles away. In fact, it was much closer to a stadium formerly occupied by the Kintetsu Buffaloes, who had moved elsewhere only a short time before I moved to Osaka. But the Buffaloes never inspired the loyalty that the Tigers did, for whatever the reason, win or lose -- and it was more lose than win. Something like the Cubs.


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