The Saitama Seibu Lions gave their new motto for 2017 with "Catch the ALL" in December. New manager Hatsuhiko Tsuji also added the kanji 気 (ki) on the top right part of the poster which refers to team spirit.
At first sight, you might be thinking of Pokémon right away with this slogan.
The "つかみ獲れ" (Tsukami tore) is referring to seizing the opportunity. In this case, it most likely refers to the Lions defense, which needs improvement for the upcoming season. In 2016, the Lions led the league in errors with 101 in total. In some ways, an underlying interpretation for this motto should be "Catch the BALL" considering the how poorly the infield defense looked.
That isn't to say the defense was the only problem for the Lions in 2016. The reason for this error number had to do with pitchers lacking strikeouts as a whole, forcing them to put the ball in play. in 2015, it was the Lions defense that carried them with the same poor strikeout numbers.
At one point in 2016, the Lions had a 10-31 stretch which was more due to the lack of hitting than any other factor. Opposing teams figured them out and the Lions would often come up short by one hit or pitch in the middle of the season.
We here at Graveyard Baseball hope to do the same with our coverage of the Lions. There will be plenty of things to write about from the ups and downs that the team will go through.
Of course we want to see winning, but in perspective, progress on the field from Tsuji is all we can hope for. A new manager, young rotation, uncertain defense and inconsistent offense are the obvious issues that come about for 2017, but this team can compete.
The offense has the talent to hit, but can it do that on a consistent basis? Pitching will be raw with guys like Shinsaburo Tawata, Kona Takahashi and a young Tatsuya Imai, but can the imports make a difference and help the depth? Can Tsuji's coaching help the defense which was hard to watch in 2016?
Only time will tell on these questions, but even in 2017, not all of them will be answered. There is a mix of youth and veterans on this Lions squad and we expect them to at least aim for A-Class, even if its against all odds. Welcome back Tsuji, the work is cut out for you.
Ganbare Raionzu! / 頑張れ ライオンズ!
Happy New Year Japan / 明けましておめでとうございます 日本! (Akemashite Omedeto Gozaimasu Nippon!)
The Lions uploaded a video with the players saying "Happy New Year" with the goals and promises for the 2017 season.
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