FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – I’ve been fascinated with Japanese baseball for a number of years. It was likely because I watched “Mr. Baseball” at an impressionable age.
Since then, I’ve become impressed by the strong followings the teams have in the form of cheer squads. Can you imagine everyone in Section 38 at the ballpark wearing the same outfit and banging drums and cheering together? It would be like having 300 guys like Zonk, and that would be impressive.
I’ve spent way more time on Wikipedia learning about the teams and their histories than any fan probably should. I love how they have sponsor names mixed in with the city or prefecture. So, if the Rangers were named like the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, we’d be calling them the Texas Nolan Ryan Beef Rangers.
And while the ‘Ryan Beef Rangers’ moniker may not catch on, the fact remains we now have the Nippon Ham Fighters’ biggest star in Yu Darvish.
You’ve undoubtedly heard of Yu by now. He’s quickly becoming the face of the franchise. There hasn’t been this much hype for a rookie in Arlington since David Clyde, but all signs are pointing that this will turn out better.
As spring training started, hundreds of media types from the Japanese press descended on Surprise to catch a glimpse of the new king of the mound. His arrival was so anticipated that he deliberately avoided flying into Phoenix to avoid the swarm, opting to drive in from Los Angeles.
CBS 11 Sports reporter Gina Miller described the scene as being unlike anything she’s ever seen in her years of covering Rangers spring training. No doubt, many writers, bloggers and reporters agree with her.
That brings us to now. Wednesday will be Yu’s first spring training outing in Arizona. The 2:05 p.m. Central Time game against a split-squad San Diego Padres will be the first time many of us have seen the former Pacific League phenom at work.
CBSDFW.COM will be there.
I will be live blogging the event using Cover It Live, a program we used in 2010 to bring you the happenings from the Rangers’ bankruptcy auction in a Fort Worth courtroom. The game is not televised, nor is it on radio. And while I can’t be like DFW radio legend Gordon McLendon and recreate every pitch — (sorry, MLB rules) — I will do my best to take you to Peoria, Arizona.
I will set the scene for you so that you’ll feel like you’re sitting in the stands with me and my laptop. You’ll be able to picture yourself in the Arizona sun with a beer in your hand and a smile on your face watching the new star of the Rangers pitching staff hang batters out to dry.
You’ll also be able to follow our entire trip on Twitter. I and some the folks from 105.3 The Fan will be using the hashtag #CoverYu to bring you pictures, anecdotes and updates from the whirlwind 24 hour trip to spring training.
So, come along with me on my journey, and play ball!
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