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Decompressing after a terrible season

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I don’t like the Indians, or the Cubs—but have you ever heard of the Hiroshima Toyo Carp?

NLCS - Los Angeles Dodgers v Chicago Cubs - Game Six
The ever-so-cute Mune Kawasaki, who used to play in NPB, with his won celebrating the Cubs’ win.
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Last Friday I asked all of you how you’ve been decompressing since the end of the Twins’ terrible, no good season. SooFoo Fan told us he has been in school, but no one else really responded, so either you haven’t decompressed, or you are working so hard at decompressing you didn’t have time to write a FanPost. I would like to assume it was the later.

As for me? I basically slid right into watching playoff baseball, and it’s been a pretty good post-season. Both of Wild Card games were excellent, there have been some awesome comeback wins, and we saw Trevor Bauer nearly bled out on the mound. Watching the best baseball teams instead of the worst baseball team is a refreshing change of pace.

But here’s the rub: We’ve gotten to the World Series, and it’s the frickin’ Indians versus Cubs.

I know I’m supposed to be excited about this, because neither team has won in a very, very long time, and both are from the Midwest, but I’m just not. I really wanted the Cubs to win last year to fulfill the entire Back to the Future II prophecy, but they failed. Now? I’m over it. It’s fun, I guess, to see all the happy Cubs fans so excited about something almost no one has seen happen before, but as my Mom texted me right after the final out of the NLCS: “Is nothing sacred anymore?”

And the Indians—don’t even get me started. First of all, the name. Second of all, their fans don’t even go to games. They had the worst attendance of any team in 2016 (worse than even the Twins!), and now they are rewarded with a World Series? Their fans used to boo Jim Thome—still the Indians’ career leader in home runs—whenever he came back with another team. It’s JI freakin’ JIM THOME. Who does that?!

I don’t honestly hate any baseball team. I love all baseball. But I did rank all my favorite baseball teams a couple years ago and just look at my 30th and 29th rankings. Can’t make that stuff up.

I will still watch the World Series, though, of course. I’m just not super jazzed up about it—and that’s ok. I’m doing fine. Want to know why?

I’M SUPER JAZZED UP ABOUT THE HIROSHIMA TOYO CARP!!!

The official logo of the Hiroshima Toyo Carp
The official logo of the Hiroshima Toyo Carp, the best team in NPB.

The Hiroshima Toyo Carp are obviously a team from Nippon Professional Baseball (known as NPB, or just “Japanese Baseball”). The Carp topped NPB’s Central League this year and are currently playing in the Nippon Series, the Japanese version of the World Series. The Carp have not been to or won the Nippon Series since 1991! Sound familiar?

I became a Carp fan back in 2010. At the time I knew very little about Japanese Baseball beyond the fact that it existed. I was at a Twins game with my Mom at the then brand new Target Field, when we saw two really enthusiastic Japanese fans. They had Joe Mauer sideburns glued to the sides of their faces, Denard Span shirseys, and a big sign that read “PERFECT BATTER JOE MAUER”.

Hiroshima Toyo Carp fans at Target Field in 2010.
Dawn Luoma
Hiroshima Toyo Carp fans at Target Field in 2010.
Dawn Luoma

The fans seemed reluctant to hold up their sign or cheer loudly, because we were sitting in kind of expensive seats. In the days when Target Field had just opened, a lot of people sat in those kind of seats just to be seen and they weren’t so much into the baseball. In other words, no one else was really cheering loudly—except my Mom and I. We encouraged the Japanese fans to stand up and cheer because we could see they were clearly excited, and they did (at appropriate times). After the game we talked to them and asked them about where they were from and why they came. The husband knew English pretty well, and told us they were baseball fans from Hiroshima that had come to see the new stadium. They then gave both me and my Mom Hiroshima Toyo Carp pins.

The pin I got from Carp fans at Target Field in 2010. Unfortunately, I wore it on my jersey to a game and lost if a few years ago.
Maija Varda

From that day I became a Carp fan. Over time I learned more about NPB, and even started watching NPB games live. Most NPB games takes place at around 4:00 am CT, and are entirely in Japanese—but I do not care. In fact, I woke up at 4:00 am yesterday to watch the Carp in the Nippon Series.

So yes. It’s been an exciting postseason in MLB, although I am sad the Dodgers lost. And I’m pretty eh on the Indians-Cubs match up—but hope is not lost. We still have the Carp, and there’s still next year. Baseball still moves on, and hence so will we. That’s the beauty of it, really.