(Just a quick note: I'm working on an article for the Linden fiasco as well so be on the look-out for that.)
Katsuya Nomura was told Sunday night that the team won't be renewing his contract for the 2010 season. They also asked Nomura if he would return to the team in a honorary position.
As of now, it doesn't appear as if the club has any real idea of what the new position would entail, other than that the position would be symbolic. The team also said that they would retire the number 19 in his honor.
Nomura and club owner Shimada spoke for about 40 minutes in the clubhouse. His comments afterward:
"Just as I thought. It's the same deal Nagashima got [from the Giants]. I told them I would need a little more time to think about it. I also need to help them think about who to pick for the next manager. I won't say anything until all the games play out. ... But it's all just an excuse to the fans. It's just a tactic to keep the fans quiet."
About 500 fans stayed after the game in protest of what the club was doing with Nomura. They stayed out in the stands in left field, shouting things out like "Don't let him go!" and "Don't ignore the voice of the fans!"
When TV crew tried to film what was going on, they were quickly escorted off the field. That got the crowd in left even more riled up.
There were still a handful of fans in the area at 11:30pm when Nomura left the stadium.
And a brief interview:
11 games over 500 and in second place...
I'm amazed we finished in second. So in that sense, I have evaluated the team. But we're still a growing team. The foundation... I feel as though I've been able to teach them the basic of how to play baseball.
On the Nomura chant...
I was really grateful. The fans in Sendai are really warm, passionate, and patient. Today was Appreciation Day. The day itself wasn't that great though.
On leaving after putting up results...
I didn't think they'd let me go if I got to the Climax Series. I asked them how they evaluated my 4 years here and they told me that had nothing to do with the decision and that it was "based only on the contract."
On club rep Yoneda...
It'll become a he said, she said, but I remember him saying, "Win it all and we'll ask you back." And now he's saying he never said that. Since he stands in a position of authority, I'd like for him to take more responsibility for what he says.
=== Updated 10/12/2009 @ 8:02pm JST
A slightly different interview:
On the meeting...
It's just as I thought. The same deal as Nagashima [with the Giants]. They asked that I become an honorary manager.
And your answer?
I told them to give me more time. Afterall, we still don't know who the next manager will be. I'm sure that manager will have his own thoughts. I don't know if I'd want a loud old man sitting next to me. And it's not like I'd be in a position to come out very often. In any case, they told me without doubt that I'm done at the end of the year.
I'm guessing it's age. And they kept talking about the honorary manager position.
How long did the meeting last?
30-40 minutes I think.
The voice of the fans?
I'm extremely grateful. As I've said, it's my dream to be thrown up into the air and then dropped to my death.
Your thoughts on the position of honorary manager?
It's like a ghost position. I don't really know how that helps Rakuten though. I guess there's always an end. Depending on how you think of it, I should be thankful for the opportunity to wear this uniform at the age of 74.
Depending on how the next manager does, do you think you might have a shot at returning after that?
Any plans for a press conference?
The club said something about a press conference after the last day of games. An official announcement I guess.