Neo-Tokyo’s Lost Season

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Updated: December 22, 2015

10/26/2022- Tokyo, Japan

“I thought it was going to be a rough season, but I didn’t think it was going to be this bad.” So said veteran and elder statesman Koto Murakami to reporters after the Akira completed their 2022 campaign. Indeed, the team’s 62-100 record is their worst finish in 12 years and first 100 loss season in team history. Needless to say, the transition from the LRS to the PEBA has been a bumpy one.

There have been several success stories after the LRS-PEBA merger of 2021, but by and large many former LRS teams have struggled. Of the teams transitioning to PEBA’s higher level of competition only Havana (formerly the Edo Battousai) has fared worse than Neo-Tokyo, though. According to GM Ron Hiscock it was clear early on in PEBA play that wholesale changes had to be made in order to compete with the rest of the league. “We were nearly maxed out on our operating budget but needed talent upgrades to go toe-to-toe with our competition. I came to the conclusion that we had to take a step back in order to move forward.”

Fans have largely stuck with the team, despite NT’s struggles in recent years. Although attendance dropped by nearly 600,000 compared to last season’s record setting numbers, the team still drew well over 3 million fans to the Neo-Tokyo Grounds. Excitement over the merger amongst the fan base has been tempered by the team’s poor showing. “Our fans are among the most loyal in all of baseball. We appreciate their support because without them we will never reach our goal. They see what we’re trying to do here. I think they can see better days are ahead.”

While NeTo has the highest ranked minor league system in all of baseball, most prospects are several years away from contributing at the big league level. “It’s true…” Ron conceded. “We have talent in the pipeline that will take time to develop, but we also have some payroll flexibility that can help us speed up the process. We’re going to be smart though. Any high dollar acquisitions we bring on board will need to have a long term outlook. We’re not afraid to spend, we just want to spend wisely. That’s critical for our future success.”

That philosophy was the impetus in dealing José Padilla. The 32 year old leftfielder was their biggest offensive threat, but his age and future salary determined that he was not going to be around when things got better.  A trade deadline deal with the Rio Grande Valley Ocelots netted a future draft pick but no immediate help. The ever professional Padilla never complained about his role or the team’s downward spiral. His veteran leadership kept the clubhouse stable. In his absence, turmoil and backbiting reared their ugly heads as losing became the norm. Moral is rumored to be so low that several soon-to be veteran free agents will not even discuss resigning with the team. With things on the verge of chaos, can management hold the team together long enough for help to arrive? This offseason could be critical to Neo-Tokyo’s rebuilding plans.