Monday, January 11, 2016

Your guide to adopting an NPB Team part 7: Tōhoku Rakuten Golden Eagles (東北楽天ゴールデンイーグルス)

Tōhoku Rakuten Golden Eagles (東北楽天ゴールデンイーグルス)



The Tōhoku Rakuten (楽天) Golden Eagles were formed in 2005 after the Orix BlueWave and Kintetsu Buffaloes merged into Orix Buffaloes at the end of 2004. A new location would have its own baseball team as a result.

Ownership: Rakuten

Rakuten (pronounced Rock-U-Tin) is an E-Commerce company who can help in banking, brokering, travel and more. It's also one of the most useful internet shopping websites in Japan, where it can ship internationally. Rakuten.com can be the Japanese equivalent of Amazon for buying goods. They also sell plenty of NPB merchandise for those who want it.

Livedoor came in second place as the potential owners of the new baseball team in Sendai and their title would've been the Livedoor Phoenix

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League: Pacific

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Payroll rank in 2015: 11

One should note that about ¥500 million ($4.1 million) separated the 5th highest payroll from the last. This number could go up, with the recent foreign signings they made. 

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Location: Rakuten Kobo Stadium Miyagi, in Sendai, Miyagi.  

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Sendai was the largest city affected by the 2011 Tsunami Earthquake. It's the biggest city in the entire Tōhoku region, which is the northern part of the Honshu island. Tōhoku (東北) actually translates into "Northeast". While the Tsunami happened nearly five years ago, people in the area are still affected today without a home and the disaster resonates every March 11. 

Hot springs are also a big deal in Tōhoku, if not the more basics food in the North. It's a very earthy part of the country and they even promote being green in their alternate uniforms



Kobo Stadium is one of only two primary outdoor ballparks in the Pacific League. It used to have the title of "Kleenex Stadium" at one point. The dimensions are symmetric and the field features grass with a normal infield dirt.  Not only this, but they even installed a Ferris Wheel in LF and the photo above shows a view from the top.




 Traditionally, this is a pitcher's ballpark. This stadium was once a home to the Lotte Orions, the former name of the Chiba Lotte Marines.

This building was damaged by the 2011 Tsunami Earthquake, forcing the Eagles to play away from their home temporarily.

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Primary Uniforms: Made by Majestic

Home design

Road design
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Mascot: Clutch (left) and Clutchina (right) and 



The Golden Eagles are named after a species of eagles that live in the Tōhoku mountains.  

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Cheer song:  Habatake Rakuten īgurusu (羽ばたけ楽天イーグルス) "Flap your wings, Rakuten Eagles"


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 Ōendan Songs: Opening Theme at 00:00, limited list of player songs at 0:38, General themes at 4:57,  Habatake Rakuten at 6:00, E-Dream at 6:53, limited number of Chance songs at 7:27



  




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MLB Comparison: Arizona Diamondbacks

Rakuten is a young expansion team like the Dbacks and they won a championship in their first decade of existence. After going through growing pains as a new franchise, the 2013 season proved to be the magical one where they won the Japan Series in their ninth season.  

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Notable MiLB and MLB Players to play for Rakuten: 

Andruw Jones, Casey McGehee, Gaby Sanchez, Zealous Wheeler, Kevin Youkilis, Kazuo Matsui, Marty Brown (as a manager), Takashi Saito

Notable Eagles to play in MLB: 

Casey McGehee, Hisashi Iwakuma, Masahiro Tanaka

Note: Iwakuma had an interesting case, where he refused to play for the merged Orix Buffaloes, so he was traded to Rakuten as a result. 
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Verdict

Why you root for them: 

Because they're a young team who brings a different energy to baseball. The Tōhoku region is simple in its own way and you can relate to this, rather than being corporate like Tokyo. It's remote and far from the larger markets, but it's a simplistic side of Japan. Also, you could be a fan of Tanaka and wondering where he dominated before playing with the New York Yankees in MLB. He went 24-0 in his final season with Rakuten before they won their first championship in 2013.

Rakuten has also worked to provide more service in English besides buying products off their website. There's an exclusive English radio featuring several teachers in the area providing commentary on each home game for the Eagles. You can download the Rakuten.FM App for Android or iPhone as well as listen through a PC here. If you have twitter, you can talk to the commentators through the hashtag #EagleStation.  

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Why you don't root for them:

There is a lack of tradition or history due to being an expansion team. Through 11 seasons in team history, they've only been to the postseason twice, which means less winning.  

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4 comments:

  1. A couple of comments:

    1) K-sta wasn't a temporary home for Lotte, the Options were based in Sendai from 1974-1977 and won the title there in 1974 (though the Nippon Series was played in Korakuen instead of Sendai due to capacity issues)

    2) The 12-inning extra innings limit was in place well before 2011, and while there was the time limit on games in 2011 it wasn't specifically to do with Tohoku but rather a nationwide energy saving campaign due to most of the NPPs being shut down.

    3) Sendai isn't really podunk - its got a population of over a million, which is bigger than Chiba and about the same size as Hiroshima. Pretty cool city and area, too.

    I like K-sta, they always have fun promotions and good food.

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    1. Orions, not Options. Autocorrect!!!

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    2. It's been edited. Wording might've brought the wrong message, but thank you

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  2. Uh, Rakuten is pronounced Lah (kinda like Lady Gaga's Ra-ra-ra, ooh-la-la or the letter r is more an l sound in Japanese)-koo-ten. Remember vowels sounds in Japanese are 99.9% the same as Spanish. In fact most Japanese say Rakuten fairly fast so it almost sounds like Rahkten. The "u" ooo sound can be subtly hard to catch.

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