I have had two opportunities to see Japanese baseball teams duke it out. Interestingly enough, "Watching Baseball" is yet another thing that the Japanese have managed to elevate to a highly perfected, united, and exceedingly well organized group-experience.
I'd like to briefly recap the improvements that the Japanese have made to the enjoyment of the game.
First, Japanese fans are about six times more excited about baseball than your average North American fans. To be honest, I have only seen baseball in a few cities (two?), so my sample size is not that large, but I think I can silence most critics of my generalization with one simple fact:
Each player has their own cheer.
That's right. While getting a "Go Jays Go!" cheer was pretty doable during the world series, or perhaps even a mostly 0n-key chant of a player's last name is ok.... the Japanese fans have managed to create distinct and difficult to follow cheers (including waving gestures and arm-pumping in unison). I couldn't understand what anyone was saying, but I could definitely make out individual sounds. Frankly, in a full stadium, that is pretty darn impressive.
At the Tokyo Giants game, for example, they also gave each person an orange cheering towel. Not the first 400 fans... not people who brought in 29 receipts from Kentucky Fried Chicken. Every single fan who didn't come decked out in the opposing team's colours became the proud owner of a new Giants towel.
Each section of seats, in fact, had its own cheering guy (I would say Cheer-leader, but we'll get to that in a bit.) These guys are in charge of making sure that the whole stadium is perfectly in sync. They wear white gloves and take cues from each other to make sure.
I'm sure if Japanese Baseball Fans wanted to do "the wave", they could probably get it to crest, or perhaps get several of them going in opposite directions. Or maybe they could send a giant team logo around instead of just a bump. Crazy.
Oh yeah... and they have cheerleaders too. I thought I remembered them in Toronto, but an American friend informed me that cheerleaders are rare in American Baseball stadiums. (stadii?)
Much like most baseball stadiums, PET plastic bottles are banned, as they could theoretically be used as projectiles. But cans of beer are ok. Anyway... both stadiums I went to were kind enough to provide large plastic cups that you could pour your soft drinks into.
Oh, and you can bring your own beer and food into the stadium (much like the movie theatre, which is also brilliant).
But, you say.... why would anyone pay stadium beer prices when they can bring in their own beer???
Ah... my friends, the answer is simple.
Girls with neon short shorts and kegs on their backs. Brilliant.
There was a fine improvement to the concept of stadium rock music as well. The improvement wasn't made in a manner than most people would think of. In fact, they decided to remix not two, but rather THREE songs into one riduculous sounding mish - mosh of songs from vastly different times.
We Will Rock You + Hey Ya + We Are The Champions.... together at last!
And thus, the title of this entry.