Yakult Swallows Baseball

Japan loves baseball. It is possible Japan loves baseball more than Texas loves football. If I ever find a way to objectively measure love aside from the tests that I run on Boz (e.g. 'If the trinity killer on Dexter murdered me, would you try to avenge my death?'), I will report the winner. In the meantime, let's analyze the Japanese baseball situation:

Boz and I recently attended our first Yakult Swallows game in the nearby Meji Jingu stadium. Yep. Our team is named the Swallows. The name refers to the bird...and the mascots are indeed birds...but the fans walk around in t-shirts that just read SWALLOWS in giant red letters across the chest.

B and I hope to have children someday whom we may teach to read...so I am going to stop here and just let you imagine the volume of sophomoric jokes from the expats at the stadium.

I promised Boz that I would, at the very least, post the surprisingly innocuous picture he snapped of a sign outside a bar:

The fans chant "Go Go Swallows!!" So that helps.

                                                                  (No, it doesn't.)

Boz and I were aware of the team name long before we landed in Tokyo, but we weren't well-versed on the individual players or team history. While we pre-gamed on Saturday, B did a little iPhone research on the Swallows website and was informed that:

"The Tokyo Yakult Swallows are a well-balanced ballclub with outstanding veteran players and brilliant young talents, while the manager has known the players since they were in the farm system."

Boz found this claim to be highly entertaining as the Swallows actually have the 10th-best record in the 12-team Nippon Professional Baseball League.

We're drinking IPAs and wearing cowboy boots...which is neither here nor there,
 but Boz looks especially hot in this picture.

                      We arrived at the game around 5 pm, queued up with the other 3.2 billion fans,
                            and snapped a shot of one of the oh-so-very-many lines for noodles...
Noodles aren't my thing, but I can relate.  Five seconds after I took this pic, I paid $11 for 2 scoops of ice cream. We had officially entered the judgement-free zone.

Historically speaking, I would rather shave my eyeballs than watch sports, so Boz 
bought super awesome seats in the hope that proximity would spark interest.

I couldn't stop looking at this sign. It appears to be just 2 identical kanji characters.
Not gonna lie, hopes are high...are there Ho Hos in Tokyo!?

Some of my culturally sensitive Japanese friends warned me about the beer girls. I was cautioned that every single person selling refreshments at the baseball game would be female and seriously dressed to flirt (especially with foreign guys).  I was basically expecting Angelina in cosplay, offering Boz body shots for a few hours.

                                                                And then this happened...

I'm going to become a Yakult Swallows Beer Gal Outfit Consultant. Clearly, the job is open.

After the always-entertaining snack procural process, we joined the crowd in cheering for our team. The Swallows, despite a sub-par record, managed to pull off an exciting win and the crowd was beyond enthusiastic. The fans were so pumped from start to finish and I had multiple opportunities to participate in the Swallows umbrella cheer!! Every time the Swallows score, the fans do a little dance, pumping blue and red umbrellas in cadence with their baseball cheer. It's so simple, yet so uniting and I think it transformed me into a hardcore sports fan.


                             Look at all the umbrellas! The fans just jam out for 3 straight hours.
                                                               Simply awesome.

The male Swallow mascot is named Tsubakurou and he is a fatty swallow (I died while typing that. Just so adorable...) and the female is his little sister swallow, Tsubami. She fancies herself a sexy swallow.

There is another swallow (of whom I failed to get a decent pic), and his name is Entaro. He is the break-dancing swallow.

                         I pulled a shot off the team's website so that you can see them all together:

The experience is wildly entertaining with the combination of crowd energy, delicious snacks, and umbrella dancing, but then the Swallow mascots take it to an entirely different level. I fell madly in love at first sight.

Fast forward to this week:

B and I returned from a trip to Singapore on Tuesday and I jumped online to read the weekend's game recap. And then part of my soul died. Entaro retired. Just like that. He is no longer the break-dancing swallow and he has been replaced by a yet unnamed cross between Tsubakurou and A-Rod.

I am seeking comfort in the city-wide disapproval of this development. Tokyo has been rocked to its core. Please keep us in your thoughts.