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Rooting for Dragons is a Nagoya tradition

by Kaz Nagatsuka

NAGOYA — Baseball fans in Nagoya bleed Dragon blue.

Unlike other big cities, including Tokyo and Osaka, where fans of different teams are intermingled, baseball almost automatically means the Chunichi Dragons in this town.

The people in Nagoya and in this region are said to have a stronger love for their home districts. Baseball fans perhaps have the same tendency. For those who grow up in Nagoya, the Dragons are the only team to root for.

“I’ve been a Dragons fan since when . . . I was a little, little child,” 38-year-old company employee Yoshiki Otake said before Game 6 of the Japan Series on Saturday. “Actually, I don’t even remember when I became a fan. But here’s one thing for sure: if you are meant to be a baseball fan here, you’re automatically rooting for the Dragons.

Otake, a Nagoya native, added that it’s almost a family tradition to watch Chunichi games.

“There are so many people whose grandfathers and fathers also were Dragons fans. I’m no exception,” Otake added.

Anybody want a ticket?: A long passage connects between the stadium and the nearest train station, Nagoya Dome-mae Yada, and on Saturday there were several scalpers in between, talking to the passersby and trying to sell tickets.

But perhaps because of the current economic recession that hit the citizens, those scalpers seemed to have a hard time getting their job done.

“I started from ¥30,000, but nobody seemed to even have an interest,” a unanimous scalper said, holing some five tickets in his hands about an hour and a half before the game with a bitter smile.

“So sometime after, I made it to ¥20,000. Still nobody wanted one. So I had to discount them to ¥15,000. But I don’t think I can sell them all today.”

Asked if he show up to sell tickets on Sunday if there is Game 7, he quickly responded, “Oh yeah, of course. I wouldn’t expect too much, though. . .”

“Tornado” in the house: Former Kintetsu Buffalo and major leaguer Hideo Nomo was in the TV booth as a commentator for Fuji Television, one of the national networks which aired Game 6 of the Japan Series.

Along with fellow commentator, Atsuya Furuta, a former Yakult Swallows catcher and manager, Nomo gave the audience his perspective based on his own experienceas a pitcher in Japan and in the big leagues.

Game 6 featured a showdown between ace hurlers in Chen Wei-yin of Chunichi and Yoshihisa Naruse of Chiba Lotte, and Nomo, a 201-game winner combine in Japan and the majors, predicted that it would be a pitching duel.

“It’s easier for pitchers to pitch in a dome, because they can toss with better balance than at an outside stadium,” said Nomo, who played for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, whose home stadium is a dome.

“I didn’t throw breaking balls much myself, but breaking balls don’t really break compared at outside stadiums.”

The 42-year-old Nomo worked in a TV booth as a commentator for the first time since he hung up his glove in 2008. He and Furuta were battery mates on the Japanese national team that won the silver medal in the 1988 Seoul Olympics.