The year of 2015 has already been an eventful time for me as a baseball fan. The decision to not only follow NPB, but also writing about it has increased the level of thoughts in my mind when it comes to baseball. With the Oakland A's finding themselves in the AL West cellar to start the year, I'm thankful for my newly adopted team, the Seibu Lions.
Yes, I have the Los Angeles Dodgers too, but with them being my second team, they don't consume all my thoughts like the A's and Lions have. So after the July 31st trade deadline, it looks like the Seibu Lions will be the baseball team that most consumes my hopeful energy.
As an A's season ticket holder, I've been attending some maddening, bullpen blow ups from the A's and then coming home to watch the Lions on my laptop and see the start to magical seasons from Shogo Akiyama and Takeya "Okawari-kun" Nakamura. For my own baseball sanity, thank god for the Lions.
What is it that makes a team over 5,000 miles away so wonderful? Maybe it's the freshness of Japanese baseball, the exciting atmospheres, that include interesting Japanese intricacies that make the game Japan's own.
Sure, I still scoff at Norio Tanabe's decision to bunt runners over with Shogo Akiyama (though the Lions have the lowest amount of sac bunts, thank god) but I'm still fascinated to be given a whole new look to the game I've loved since I was a little boy.
It's not even just the Lions, I'm mesmerized by the Japanese traditions like the singing of each team's cheer song during the "Lucky" 7th inning, the funny balloons, and even our rival Chiba's wonderful traveling fans.
The way the Japanese cling to their stars is unlike anything I've seen here in America, the craziness of Shohei Otani has sure encapsulated my attention. It simply makes Fernando Mania look quite tame, to be quite honest.
I was told by the experts not to expect much from the Lions because they simply didn't have the pitching to compete in the Pacific League. And when their true ace, Takayuki Kishi started the season trying to get his oblique right, I was concerned. And then Yusei Kikuchi, Ken Togame, Ryoma Nogami and Kazuhisa Makita stepped up and assured me that it's all nothing to worry about.
The offense was supposed to be good, and they have been, but I stand here today and I think they still have an extra gear they haven't met yet.
The bullpen was supposed to just have two solid back end guys and that's it, and that's kind of how it's been, but no matter what, I feel a lot better about it than the A's and Dodgers bullpens!
Sure, I know that our rivals in the Pacific League in the Hawks and Fighters have their strengths that we have to worry about, but I look at my Lions and think, maybe a magical season is possible.
A magical season that would make me forget about the disappointment of the A's October failures of recent years, and make me smile endlessly and feel tied to the boys from Saitama forever.
Sure, this is a homer post, but I already love this team and whether they break my heart or not, they're every bit my team as the A's, Oakland Raiders, and San Jose Sharks.
Ganbarre Raionzu, I'm ready for whatever they throw at me.
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