Just like last year I’ve decided to compile a review of my 2019 baseball season. Similar to last year, this one is difficult to write albeit for different reasons. Last season, we lost in the Taiwan Series, this year we seemed doomed from the start. At the time of writing, it’s likely to be around 20 weeks until Uni Lions first Spring Training game and I’m quite thankful for that. It’s time to look at, my 2019 baseball season…
Right back in the early part of the year, I told myself to do less Lions games, but at the same time, watch every Uni Lions game in Tainan that I could… That would seem like I was trying to be a Schrodinger’s baseball watcher and of course, I did 8 more games than last year with no playoffs. Yes, I had a bit of luck with the weather and my work schedule so was able to do 34 Tainan games.
|Attendance||315956 (3 games att N/K)|
|Tainan||34||16-18 (6W were in Spring Training)|
Last season I said there was a lot to digest, this season, there’s a feeling of being underwhelmed. I always have fun watching the Lions but this year, it’s fair to say, even just looking at these stats you know that the season was one to forget. There wasn’t a single stadium where I saw more wins than defeats, and going 18-1-33 in league matches isn’t an easy pill to swallow.
Compared to last year, being able to do 34 games in Tainan as opposed to 20 is mainly down to the Lions playing more games in Tainan. My Taoyuan, Xinzhuang and Taichung totals added up to 20 compared to 18 this year but we had the playoffs last season.
The only weekends I missed games were:
Monkeys v Lions at Tianmu on 18th/19th May due to a pre-booked trip to Kinmen.
Lions v Monkeys in Taoyuan on 2nd/3rd July, partly apathy and partly because I expected two defeats…
Guardians v Lions at Tianmu on 17th/18th Aug, and Lions v Guardians at Xinzhuang on 24th/25th Aug, both due to not having an ARC or passport that would allow me to stay over. I was working at 10am on Mondays and wasn’t keen on single-day trips…
Lions v Guardians at Xinzhuang on 22nd September, rain concerns and end of season feeling, plus the Rugby World Cup had started… This one was always a non-starter.
60 games done out of a possible 66, I’m pretty happy with that although not how the majority of those games ended! It’s time to look at my top best and top worst moments of the season. The bad moments certainly outnumber the good ones!
TOP 4 BEST MOMENTS
4) Kao Kuo Ching becomes a pitcher – 1st June
At the back end of an away day humiliation, the 40-year-old 1st baseman became the first Lions position player to pitch for 10 years. Kao was scoreless, giving up just 2 hits in the 8th inning. I was proud to say I was there given how rare it is for a CPBL position player to pitch, I’ve now seen it twice…
3) Away games and friendliness of the Uni Lions fans.
This is a non-specific highlight, as now after 4 full seasons watching the team, I’m well known and I know I am. Fans wanting selfies, adding me on Facebook, trying to communicate with me, then you get Dave and Tom, two of the guys who I hang around with at away games. It was a depressing season, but looking back, still cheering and signing when getting beaten badly, especially on the road, it wasn’t so bad eh?
2) Chinatrust Brothers 10-11 Uni Lions – 14th September
In a season blighted by a lack of fun moments on the field, this was certainly one to remember. 4-4 with 3 hours played, the rain came, and the players went off for almost 2 hours. They came back we ended 10-5 down, at 10-5 down with 2 on base, 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th, the Lions somehow got back into it. Kao Kuo-Ching with the 3 RBI double to walk off at 11:59pm, what a special special moment indeed and it was just a day after, we’d been beaten 16-2 by Brothers!
1) Lamigo Monkeys 8-19 Uni Lions -11th August
Lamigo Monkeys have inflicted so much pain on Uni Lions in recent years and after beating us 10-0 the day before, I expected another defeat. This was a quite ridiculous game of baseball, as I saw the Lions put 10 on the Monkeys for the first time in 38 regular-season games, 32 Su Chih Chieh hit 3 home runs as the Lions ran riot. The bullpen had a wobble to see 27 runs (record), the Lions score 19 (record) and in Hualien too, it was special.
TOP 4 WORST MOMENTS
4) Lamigo Monkeys 19-3 and 17-5 Uni Lions – 28th/29th September
A pair of crunching defeats. This would be higher on the list BUT, the majority of players in these two games were either out of form, youngsters, rookies or 2nd team players. Two games I went to, because I had to because they were in Tainan. Didn’t I enjoy either game for more a few more minutes? No. My interest in baseball had long since gone for the season.
3) Chinatrust Brothers 16-2 Uni Lions – 13th September
Last year, Lamigo made up the majority of these bad moments, this year it’s Brothers. The Lions were already dead and buried for the season, but losing 16-2 at home, my biggest ever home loss (albeit only for 15 days!) still hurt.
2) Uni Lions 0-16 Chinatrust Brothers – 21st July
So, you travel 175km (4 hours) each way by bus to Taichung from Tainan and see your team lose 10-6. Upon arriving home at 1am, you rest for 10 hours then go and make the same journey only to get beat 16-0. That’s exactly what happened in this game. This was humiliation. It remains my biggest ever Uni Lions loss on the road and joint-worst defeat ever.
1) The Tianmu weekend – 20th/21st April
If you play a three-game series away from home, you expect a defeat or two but what happened on this weekend, was just dreadful, dreadful. It had rain, a serious injury and a walk-off loss.
Game 1, leading 8-4 after 3, 8-5 after 7.5, we lost 9-8.
Game 2, Brothers pitcher Yang Zhi-long hits 4 Lions players and is ejected from the game. The game ends up abandoned after 5 at 3-3 due to torrential rain. It late turns out Lions leadoff man, and arguably best player, Chen Chieh-hsien suffered a broken finger when he was struck. Chen never played again after that…
Game 3, Brothers walk-off 3-0 in the bottom of the 11th with a 3 run homer.
Below is footage of the injury sustained in game 2…
So those were my best and worst moments, I was able to limit it at 4 despite seeing a total of 60 games. A lot of just, ‘so-so’ afternoons. If I could have extended to top/worst 5 I would have…
I will be back in 2020. I would just like to reiterate my thanks to every single Lions fan and opposition fan who I’ve spoken to this season, has added me on Facebook or cheered with me at the games. Game 200 looks a certainty next season having reached 176 games this year. My 100th Lions win is also within reach (90) and my 100th visit to Tainan Municipal Stadium too, (84).
I’ll be bringing you a review of the season, a look at the squad, stats the positives and the negatives etc in the next few weeks. It will take me a while to put it together.
Until then, thank you!