Saturday, December 30, 2017

Seibu Lions want to Catch the Flag in 2018

Hatsuhiko Tsuji revealed the Saitama Seibu Lions new slogan as "Catch The Flag" to end the 2017 calendar year. This motto is very similar to "Catch The All" from 2017.

In addition to Catch The Flag the bottom line in gold says "栄光をつかみ獲れ / Eiko o Tsukami tore" which would refer to "Grab the glory" in English. Tsuji also wrote the word "攻める / Semeru" on the poster as he's seen pointing to it in the above photo, which means "to attack".
This is not a new slogan for the Lions, as Catch The Flag was their theme last August in the midst of a 13-game winning streak. It was an update to Catch The All.

As last year's "Catch The All" can easily be interpreted as improving the team's defense, there were many other ways to "Catch" things and grabbing opportunities for young players. This motto has no dispute, as the Lions want to catch the pennant for the first time since 2008.

In their history, the Lions have won the pennant the last three times the calendar ended with an 8. In 1988, they won the pennant on the final day of the regular season where they beat out the Kintetsu Buffaloes in a close race. It was decided by the Buffaloes needing to win two games in a double header against the last place Lotte Orions. They won the first, but a tie in the second game gave the Lions their fourth straight pennant as they won  by 0.5 games.  The Lions would go on and win the Japan Series where Tsutomu Ito ended it all on a sayonara hit.

In 1998, the Lions won the pennant, but lost to the Yokohama Baystars in the Japan Series. Their last pennant came in 2008, where the Lions, under a new manager Nabe-Q, ended up taking the team to a Japan Series title behind a great performance from Takayuki Kishi in a Game 6. A comeback in the 8th inning against the Yomiuri Giants gave the Lions their 13th Japan Series title.

Prior to Seibu history, the Nishitetsu Lions also won the pennant in 1958. One of the most dramatic Japan Series titles came as Kazuhisa Inao pitched all four games where the Lions came back from a 3-0 deficit. Inao himself hit a walkoff home run in one of the games and was the winning pitcher for all four of the Lions wins. (The Nishitetsu Lions finished 5th in 1968 and the Crown Lighter Lions finished 5th in 1978).

With this motto, the Lions are putting pressure on themselves to win a pennant or bust. Last year, they struggled in Fukuoka against the Softbank Hawks where they had a 1-12 record when seeing them at the Yafuoku! Dome. The 2017 season marked the first time the Lions were in A-class in four years.They finished in second place which was propelled by a strong second half, including the aforementioned 13-game win streak.

Tsuji and the Lions hope to recapture glory, as they are the most successful Pacific League franchise in NPB history.

We here at Graveyard Baseball hope to continue giving you the exclusive coverage of all things Seibu Lions in English in 2018. There are plenty of goals going forward and we hope there can be continuous progress with the team and with our content as we remain active on social media.


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