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Game 1 plus some

Newspaper before opening game
Newspaper before opening game

Hello there!

Well it's been over a week since we've been here and it's been quite the experience already. I feel like I am going to type out a long novel if I try to cover it all at once. I'll do my best not to get too long winded.

We landed Tuesday night, slept for maybe 4 hours, bumed around the house until our 7am departure for a double header. These were only practice games, but still I was not ready to pitch after flying all day the day before. I threw three innings, and they went fine. It was very different being surrounded by teammate who I did not understand though. They try to speak English as much as they can though, so it's comforting.

Thursday was team hitting and Friday we packed up for our first road trip. Before heading to the Nagoya dome for our scheduled practice time, we took a trip to a temple to pray for good luck and good health this season. The grounds of the temple are beautiful. There were cherry blossoms, which our team insisted on taking a picture of me standing in front of. There were some roosters, which I guess are a special to Nagoya, along with many good luck rituals. We washed our hands and sipped out of a water trough. There was a huge tree they believe houses God. The ceremony itself was more of a performance than it was a typical church ceremony. The two girls did a type of dance in some elaborate costumes. When you exit the temple, you take a sip of saki, similar to sipping the wine during a mass.

After the temple we headed to practice in the dome. They are very strict with time schedules, so practice was at a rapid pace. After practice we bused to our hotel, where we checked in, had a little down time, then joined the team for dinner. It was our first Japanese meal. It was actually very good, minus the purple pickles. I tried everything on my plate, and loved the chicken teriyaki rice bowl. The team was impressed with our use of chopsticks and the fact we were willing to try everything.

Saturday was a long day! We didn't play until 4:30, and since I wasn't adjusted to the time yet, waking up at 5 or 6 provided tons of down time. Skype saved the day though. Its wonderful to be able to call people back home. I've never really been homesick before, so it's a new feeling to me. We had a bento box for lunch with more Japanese food. This time we had some type of sweet pork, which again proved to be delicious!

I still don't know how they are so skinny here. They eat rice at every meal. They have baked goods around every corner. You can only find whole milk at the stores. They only use real sugar. I feel like something isn't adding up!

Our game, well we won 2-0 in 8 innings against Ueno's team. Ueno was the winning pitcher in the Olympics back in 2008. Playing with our team was so fun. They are so energetic and passionate. It's contagious. There were a couple plays that did not go our way, and needless to say our teammates nor the umpires knew what Megan and I were saying! That's the only time I've felt lost since being here!

Monday was an off day, and we spent the afternoon in Nagoya with a few of the other Americans who are over here playing. By the end of the night, 6 of us were having dinner at Outback Steakhouse. We couldn't turn down the opportunity for an American meal! It tastes just like at home!

Things I've noticed here:

1.     They love vegetation, as in flowers outside of houses, stores, restaurants. It's so pretty to see plants and flowers everywhere.

2.     Cherry Blossoms are beautiful, but apparently only bloom for a week or two each year.

3.     Despite the fact you can never find a trash can, there's absolutely no litter here.

4.     Softball's popularity here definitely rivals that of the US. 11,000 people came out to the opening weekend of league play.

5.     People here get things done, and stay on their time frames. Nothing gets them off schedule, even if there's extra time.

This is all for now... we've had one Japanese lesson, but I have to save something to write about!!

Hook ‘Em!