The Blue Wave is a professional baseball
team in Japan
's Pacific League
, based in the city of Kobe
. They are also one of the oldest pro teams in Japan, founded in 1936
by the Hankyu
corporation. The team played in Nishinomiya
as the "Hankyu Braves
" until Orix
bought it in 1988
and moved it to Kobe's Green Stadium
, adding the "Blue Wave" name in 1991
Since the fall of the Hanshin Tigers dynasty around World War II, Orix has historically been the top team in the Kansai region, consistently outshining the Tigers and the Kintetsu Buffaloes, and only finishing in last place once (1963). They have played in the Japan Series on many occasions, winning the championship as recently as 1996, although they usually lose to the gods of Japanese baseball, the Yomiuri Giants of Tokyo.
The Blue Wave has given rise to some of Japan's greatest baseball players. You've probably heard of one of them, a perennial batting champion named Ichiro, who led the Blue Wave from 1992 to 2000 before being bought by the Seattle Mariners. Boomer Wells, one of six triple crown winners in Japanese history, played for the team from 1983 to 1992. Before him came three-time MVP pitcher Yamada Hisaishi, who retired with over two thousand strikeouts. And before him came Fukumoto Yutaka, who holds the Japanese record for stolen bases.
Since Ichiro's departure, however, Orix has suffered from a major talent vacuum. In 2002, they finished at the bottom of the league for the second time in history.
The team currently includes ex-Ranger Scott Sheldon and ex-po Fernando Seguignol in the infield, who currently lead the team in home runs: Tani Yoshitomo and Soejima Kota are also key in the batting order. Kaneda Masahiko is one of the team's main pitchers, along with Koo Dea-sung and Ed Yarnall who lead the league in strikeouts.
Orix is currently managed by Ishige Hiromichi. Their mascot is the lovable Neppie, who carries a trident around.