Last Saturday the Hanshin Tigers beat the Yomiuri Giants 8-4 in the Tokyo Dome (home of the Giants). With this win the Tigers clinched a spot in the Japan Series, their first since 2005.
The Giants, who are the reigning champion in Japan were swept 4-1. It sounds strange that the Giants were swept four games to one, but in Japan the winner of each league gets a win in the semi final (the Climax Series). The Giants finished first in the Central League.
Tigers’ starting pitcher Atsushi Nomi went five innings in which he allowed two runs on nine hits. A four run first inning, a two run second and a two run seventh were enough to keep the Giants at bay.
It is not clear yet who the opponent of the Tigers will be. In the Pacific League’s Climax Series, the Nippon Ham Fighters (former team of Yu Darvish) and the Softbank Hawks (former team of manager and Japanese baseball legend Sadaharu Oh) are tied at three games each. The decisive game in this league will be played on October 20.
The Tigers are often compared with the Boston Red Sox. Fans of both teams said that there is/was a curse that kept their team from winning a championship. The curse that keeps the Tigers from winning is called the Curse of the Colonel. When the Tigers won the championship in 1985, fans celebrated the win by having fans, that looked like Tigers players, jump into the Dotonbori Canal. There was one problem: No one looked like Tigers’ first baseman Randy Bass. So the fans grabbed a statue of Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken, (both Sanders and Bass had beards) and threw it into the canal.
After many series without a series win, the Tigers were said to be doomed never to win the season again until the Colonel was rescued from the river.
The top half of the statue (excluding its left hand) was finally recovered on March 10, 2009, and the bottom half and left hand shortly after, in the canal by construction workers while constructing a new boardwalk area as part of a beautification project. The KFC outlet where this statue once stood has since closed; the statue is now located at an outlet near Koshien Stadium.
Colonel Sanders and Randy Bass: a spitting image