Shin Seiki Gussies Up Affiliates

Updated: May 26, 2019

Gary Trundleburry, Shin Seiki Post

12/16/2028: Nagoya, Japan

The Shin Seiki Evas are, by most measures, an active franchise. Trades are made, free agents are signed, top prospects are promoted, and Genesis Field is a world class facility. It makes for a good PEBA product, as the 4.77 million fans who made their way through the gates in 2028 can attest.

But what about the other four teams in the Shin Seiki organization – the minor league system? Well, times have been tougher for them. And, if my sources are correct, attendance and merchandising numbers reflect those tough times.

Kyoto Rodan fans slog through a constant stream of over the hill and AAAA type players who primarily serve as injury reserves for the Evas. Sure there are the occasional top prospects, but more often than not, they are dealt for PEBA level help. It’s odd to say, but the Rodan would be a lot more fun if the Evas were a lot less fun. That’s a tough situation for Rodan fans, but I don’t anticipate the Evas’ front office doing anything to make them feel better on that front.

Things are even more grim in Seoul, where the AA Crushers play. The crushers were once a proud LRS franchise, the same as the Evas. They competed head to head against Shin Seiki, made trades with Shin Seiki, heck they even beat up on the Evas every once in a while. But when the LRS crumbled, the Crushers took the best life line that was available to them – to become the new AA affiliate of the Evas. Not only was the franchise to be demoted, it was to be demoted two full levels. The quiet shame of that compromise has hovered over Seoul ever since.

Things are somewhat better in Marduk, where the A level Nerv play. The Nerv, cleverly and appropriately named after the fictional government organization in the Neon Genesis Evangelion anime that was responsible for the creation of the Evas, have long been fan favorites in Shin Seiki. Sure the competition was never close the the same level as the Evas, or even the Rodan, but it was nice affordable family fun. Plus you might even have gotten a decent look at future Evas. But since the merger with PEBA, Marduk has lost some purpose. In the LRS days, it was the only stop before AAA for prospects. That lead to players spending years there. Fans would get to know them. It made Nerv games matter, much like US college basketball used to matter more before players could jump directly to the NBA. Now Marduk is just another stop on the train to Shin Seiki. Players usually don’t spend more than a year there. That’s normal for the A ball affiliates of PEBA squads. But that doesn’t make it any less sad for the fans of Marduk.

Lastly, we have what has almost been an after thought for Shin Seiki – the Short Season A Atsumi Acorns. This affiliate was added when Shin Seiki joined PEBA, along with the AA affiliate. Previously, LRS squads had only AAA and A levels in their systems. The front office in Shin Seiki has, of course, staffed Atsumi with the appropriate coaches to help the system’s youngest players develop. They even went as far as bringing in Eva legends Toskikazu “+7 Vorpal” Tanka and Katsunan Hiraoka to coach pitching and hitting, respectively. Still, the Acorns have yet to develop any sort of a significant following. The name, colors, and uniforms seem to have some from a generic catalog. Why the “Acorns” ? It doesn’t seem to fit with anything else in the organization.

So things aren’t all that much fun in the Evas’ minor league system right now. But it seems the SS front office isn’t blind to that. They have a plan to make the minor fun again, the first part of which was unveiled today – new, and hopefully better, uniforms, logos and colors for most. The intent is to emphasize “History, Pride, and Professionalism”, that apparently means something different for each affiliate.

  • AAA Kyoto Rodan – With merchandising sales being solid and the long history of the Rodan within the Shin Seiki organization, it was decided that there was nothing broken, so there will be no changes. That has to sting a bit in Kyoto.
  • AA Seoul Crushers – In an effort to restore pride in the history franchise, Seoul will be getting update colors, uniforms, and caps. . The new muted colors, while somewhat less exuberant, are certainly more professional.
  • A Marduk Nerv – The other long standing SS affiliate already has plenty of history. What it apparently could use a bit more of is professionalism and pride. The Nerv are getting an updated cleaner logo that is much less noisy than the current “sunbeam” concept. It also translates better to merchandising – as can be seen on the new Nerv caps. Seems like a solid upgrade package that long time fans should appreciate.
  • SS-A Atsumi –  Atsumi’s apparently lacked everything. As a result the affiliate is getting a total branding reboot. Out are the Acorns and in are the Autobots, one of the major factions in the ever-popular-in-Japan Transformers franchise. The hope seems to be that a partnership with Hasbro will boost the bottom lines of both. Along with the new name, the team is getting entirely new colors, uniforms and logos. It’s a big kid-friendly change that should jibe well with a family-friendly minor league ball park experience.

That is apparently not all that is in store. The SS front office has indicated that there is another major announcement coming about their minor league system. Rumor has it that it is ballpark related, but details are scarce for the moment. But if it is anything like the uniform upgrades, I expect things the game day experience across the SS system to get a lot better in 2029.