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Shohei Ohtani superfans unite: Ben Verlander’s Japan diary, Day 2


By Ben Verlander
FOX Sports activities MLB Analyst

Editor’s observe: Ben Verlander is spending time in Japan exploring Shohei Ohtani’s roots, experiencing the nation’s tradition and assembly followers. That is the second in a recurring collection which started Friday, Aug. 19.

What’s up, everyone? It is Day 2 in Japan and I couldn’t be extra enthusiastic about one other day of this journey. Earlier than I head to the Tokyo Dome to see the Tokyo Giants tackle the Hanshin Tigers (NPB’s model of the Pink SoxYankees rivalry), I wished to take a couple of minutes to let you know all about yesterday. Which additionally occurred to be among the best days of my total life.

We have been at Yokohama Stadium to see the Yokohama Baystars and the Hiroshima Carp.

To be trustworthy, I had no concept what to anticipate. We confirmed up, obtained our credentials and met with varied individuals from the Baystars group. They may not have been extra gracious and beneficiant all through all the expertise. It was extremely cool.

Then we walked into the stadium – my first time in a Japanese baseball stadium – and I used to be blown away. I walked out of the tunnel and simply took all of it in. This place is spectacular. It seats round 34,000 individuals and is totally round, with steep rows of blue seats. You actually really feel such as you’re on prime of the sector even in case you’re in row 50. One other factor that jumps out straight away is that the sector dimensions are small: 309 ft down the road and simply over 380 to heart, however with a 16-foot wall that wraps across the total outfield. You’ll be able to think about there are some actually high-scoring video games there.

We walked in whereas the groups have been in the midst of taking BP. One factor that was obvious straight away: In Japanese baseball, the house crew could have two gamers take batting apply on the similar time with two separate cages. There’s additionally rather a lot occurring at batting apply. It is mainly a full exercise earlier than the sport even begins. There are pitchers figuring out within the outfield, guys hitting off a tee off to the aspect, bunting drills, the checklist goes on. You’d by no means see this in MLB.

Throughout BP, I obtained to fulfill the Baystars’ star pitcher, Shota Iminaga. He was excited to come back over and say whats up. I requested him how he likes pitching in such a small ballpark. He made a degree to say if batters from the USA performed there, they might hit a ton of dwelling runs within the park. I additionally requested if he had a objective of enjoying in MLB, to which he stated “completely.”

After that, we headed to the crew retailer. I’ve determined to purchase a jersey at each recreation I attend this week. Naturally, I needed to decide up a wonderful white pinstripe Iminaga No. 21.

Subsequent, we hit the concession stands. Laborious.

The stadium meals is noticeably totally different right here. I attempted the whole lot from pork dumplings to ice with oranges on prime to among the best curries I’ve ever tasted. I will have a full video breakdown on all of this coming quickly.

Then, the gates opened. And I will let you know, I used to be not prepared for what occurred subsequent. I will stage with you: I am extremely proud to say that my podcast, Flippin’ Bats, is the No. 1 baseball podcast in Japan. Even understanding that, nonetheless, I could not have foreseen the response I would get from followers in Japan.

Inside 30 seconds of the gates opening to followers, two ladies got here up and requested for an image. One of many ladies broke down into tears. That will be a typical prevalence. We took tons of of images. It was a big day.

It grew to become fairly obvious simply how sturdy Shohei Ohtani’s impression is. That is all due to him. I grew to become the No. 1 Shohei fan on the opposite aspect of the world. After flying 13 hours throughout the globe, the appreciation and love was instantly noticeable.

Ben Verlander is an MLB Analyst for FOX Sports activities and the host of the “Flippin’ Bats” podcast. Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, Verlander was an All-American at Outdated Dominion College earlier than he joined his brother, Justin, in Detroit as a 14th-round decide of the Tigers in 2013. He spent 5 years within the Tigers group. Observe him on Twitter @BenVerlander.

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