As was previously mentioned here, Sadarahu Oh threw out the ceremonial first pitch. He was also accompanied by two youngsters.
Ichiro and Matsuzaka may have gotten the biggest applause from the crowd during roster introductions at the start of the game.
Each time Ichiro came up to bat, the fans went crazy. And each time he got ready in the batter's box, the flash bulbs would start popping like crazy (especially during that signature moment when he holds the bat out in front of him, perpendicular to the ground). But towards the end of the game, you could start to hear whispers from the fans, "Oh no, it's Ichiro!" or "Not again!" I don't think they'd ever boo the man, but you could certainly feel a slight change in the atmosphere during his at bats later in the game. And had it not been for a nice play he made on the field, his night would have just been awful.
Outside of Ichro, Tanaka may have been THE most photographed player during the game -- that is, at least based on the number of flash bulbs going off during his warm-up pitches. It was kind of interesting because the flash bulbs would go off and then suddenly you'd hear this collective "Wow!" emanating from the stands.
People in the stands were actually surprised when Fujikawa gave up a single during in one inning of work in the 9th. I guess they think he's more machine than human.
The circus is in town. No, seriously, the circus IS in town. The Nikulin Circus has been playing at the JCB Hall since January 18th and will be there until March 7th. The JCB Hall is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the Dome.
WBC Merchandise must be selling like crazy. I'd say almost everyone in the Dome, except for me, was either wearing or waving some peice of WBC merchandise. And while the lines at the makeshift tents outside the Dome selling WBC merchandise weren't quite as long as they were before the game, they were still fairly long after the game.
McDonald's was handing out plastic folders to fans for free with various words printed on one of the sides (the other side has a picture of a player). Mine says "デカイことやろう," or "Let's do something big." There are 8 different kinds in all.
世界をつかもう - Let's take the World
日本はヤる - Japan will do it
勝って勝って勝ちまくれ - Win, Win, then win some more
日本を止めるな - Don't stop Japan (how polite is that!?)
夢の力をナメるな - Don't make fun of the power of dreams
日本パワー解禁 - Lift the ban on Japan Power
突破せよ - Break on through!
43,428 were in attendance at last night's game.
Incidentally, how's this for a growth in popularity. Here are the attendance figures from the first WBC (wiki Japan):
China vs Japan - 15,869
Taiwan vs Korea - 5,193
China vs Korea - 3,925
Taiwan vs Japan - 31,047
Taiwan vs China - 4,577
Korea vs Japan - 40,353
So last night's FIRST game actually outsold the Korea vs Japan during the first WBC.
Japan's Crown Prince and Crown Princess were in attendace last night. The fans gave them a nice round of applause. The Crown Princess has been making headlines in Japan for skipping out on various functions due to her health. I think the fans were relieved to see her out and about in public.
I'm really curious about the turn-out to tonight's game. Yesterday's full-house might make tonight's game look pitiful. My tickets are in the non-reserved section tonight, but I'm guessing I won't have too much a problem finding a place to sit.