Gooo, gooo! Sakamoto!” screeches the crowd. Jon, my husband as of a fortnight prior, is singlemindedly hollering along with the scrum and attempting to mimic the intricate cheers of the away team—Tokyo’s Yomiuri Giants—which include a complex sequence of hand motions. First a one-armed tomahawk, then the wave, another tomahawk, and a half-dozen other outstretched gesticulations that I can’t quite follow.
Jon is about a beat behind, but that hardly matters since the stadium’s thousand-some other roaring voices drown out everything but the booming loudspeaker, which blasts rock walk-up tunes. If this were America, I’d be frightened—the pulsing sea of fans, drunk on tall cans of Asahi beer, has the dangerous look of a mouth-foaming rally one errant punch away from complete anarchy. But this is Japan, where even the chaos is orderly. Soon I’m swept up myself, and together Jon and I tipsily scream a mangled mixture of Japanese and English between chugs of watery beer. “GOOO, GOOO!!! SAKAMOTO!!!!” we whoop as 27-year-old shortstop Hayato Sakamoto takes the plate.