Saturday, November 10, 2007

Selecting a sports team to cheer for...

When the Red Sox completed their sweep of the Rockies I realized that the Japan Series was still going on and I wondered if I should post about them to balance things out (especially after the combined perfect game to win it) but I got kind of burned out on baseball at that point. Five of my seven posts in October were about the MLB and seven of eight of my posts were about sports (the eighth being about murder, not something I really want to constantly blog about).

It was about that time that I realized that the reason I didn't really care about the Japan Series was that I didn't have anyone to cheer for or root against. In the World Series I was cheering for Daisuke but against Boston.

As I said before, I am a Mets fan and generally cheer for New York teams. I was a big fan of the Patrick Ewing-era Knicks and I was glad that Mark Messier was around to help the New York Rangers win the Stanley Cup.

Due to the influence of some friends from England I follow West Ham whenever I remember to look at the scores. Hey, middle of the table is better than fighting to simply stay in the Premier League.

I also have certain players that I cheer for. Alex! is one. Brent Barry is another. After watching the Knicks/Nuggets game on NHK BS I think I *heart* Renaldo Balkman. Hey, I never said the players I cheered for were superstars.

Anyway, I've decided that I'm going to follow some Japanese sports teams to see if it will get me a bit more interested in what's going on locally.

Now unfortunately, I live in Yamaguchi prefecture which doesn't have any big league teams. There are two local football (soccer for us Americans) clubs in the area though:
FCバレイン下関 (FC Baleine Shimonoseki) is a football club that is something like three leagues below the J League. Baleine is French for くじら.
A bit higher on the scale (I think!) is レノファ山口FC (Renofa Yamaguchi). The word Renofa is a combination of Reno from renovation and Fa from either fight or fine. Yup.

That's a start. Not quite the same as following the big leagues though although the fight to get promoted to a bigger league is something I wish the U.S. would do more often. (By the way, if you ever need to make your mind boggle, try to follow the chart at the bottom of the wikipedia entry for the English football league system. And those are just the leagues, not teams.)

So...taking into consideration that geography is always important when choosing who you cheer for (I have an excuse for cheering for New York teams since I'm from Hawaii which has no pro teams in any sports and you have to figure it out for yourself) I'll be following サンフレッチェ広島 (Sanfrecce Hiroshima) as my designated J League team. They even have a similar history to West Ham: They did a lot early on and not all that much since.

Also, since I was planning to blog about it eventually, I will try to follow ライジング福岡 (Rizing Fukuoka - the z is because they are hard core!) of the unfortunately named bj league. Japan has a bit of an odd situation that the US hasn't seen in a while -- two competing leagues of roughly the same level. While the Japan Basketball League (which has two divisions) is probably better known club teams can choose between the JBL and the bj league. Kobe Bryant's father, Joe Bryant, is the head coach of the bj league's Tokyo Apache.

Since the baseball season is over, I will take the time to mull over whether or not I will cheer for the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks or the Hiroshima Carp. I'll probably choose the Hawks since I often inadvertently read the name Hiroshima Carp as the Hiroshima Crap. Sorry guys..

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