Seattle Mariners in Japan
My hometown team, the Seattle Mariners are in Japan to play two exhibition games vs two professional Japanese baseball teams and open the 2012 Major League Baseball season vs the Oakland Athletics. The Mariners and A’s will play two regular-season games in the Tokyo Dome on Wednesday and Thursday, and Seattle’s three Japanese players — Ichiro, infielder Munenori Kawasaki and pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma — figure to be the main attractions. This is the first time Ichiro Suzuki has played with the Seattle Mariners in Japan, and although off the field the welcome home was as expected; on the field – his fellow countrymen have been less than hospitable. The Seattle Mariners lost both exhibition games to Japan’s two most popular professional teams, the Hanshin Tigers and the Yomiuri Giants. Although most baseball fans understand the minimal signficance of an exhibition game, these games welcoming Ichiro back to Japan were played with the fanfare of a World Series matchup, which I’m sure stung the Mariners having lost. The Hanshin Tigers and the Yomiuri Giants are two of Japan’s oldest professional baseball teams, both maintain a rivalry that is often compared to the Boston Redsox and the New York Yankees. The Hanshin Tigers represent Japan’s second largest city of Osaka, and the Yomiuri Giants play for the masses in Tokyo. Similar to the Redsox, Yankee rivalry both teams compete in the same division which provides several opportunities to see the two most popular Japanese teams play regularly. Despite the Mariners’ two exhibition losses, Ichiro came out swinging against the A’s in the MLB season opener going 4 for 5 in the team’s 4-1 win! In closing, a small note to my friends and family reading this blog, I’ll be in Seattle from July 20th to the 29th! I’ve also purchased 4 field level tickets to the Mariners vs the Yankees on July 24th! I’m sure I’ll be taking a lot of pictures and writing a blog about that experience in the near future, so check back for that!