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[9/27/2013] Third-Party Panel releases its findings on the standard baseball

by on Sep.27, 2013 @ 9:26 pm, under NPB
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The third-party panel investigating the changes to the standard baseball held a press conference in Tokyo earlier today.

With regards to whether or not commissioner Ryozo Kato knew about the changes, the commissioner himself strongly denied having knowledge.  NPB officials, beginning with secretary-general Kunio Shimoda, have also given similar testimonies and we were unable to find sufficient evidence that stated otherwise.  Based on this, while we cannot say that Kato knew of the changes, we also cannot say, based on the arguments he made during an executive committee meeting, that the allegations are completely lifted.

Source: Nikkan Sports 9/27/2013

The panel also pointed out that the commissioner can not skirt the responsibility of the confusion that was created by changes to the baseball, regardless of whether or not he knew what happened.  Additionally, they felt the NPB was currently structured in a way that did not allow for accountability.  And that started with the commissioner's position, which is currently only part-time.

Source: Sponichi 9/27/2013, Daily Sports 9/27/2013, Nikkan Sports 9/27/2013

Commissioner Kato canceled his appearance at a press conference after the third-party panel released it's findings.  He told reporters he had nothing to add.

Source: Daily Sports 9/27/2013

UPDATE @ 11:36pm -

The NPB will discuss and determine the fate of those involved during meetings on the September 30 (twelve-team) and October 2 (owner meeting).  The NPB will also post the third-party panel's complete report at the official NPB website within the next couple of days.  The report is apparently over eighty pages.

Source: Nikkan Sports 9/27/2013

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[9/20/2013] NPB Commissioner News and Notes

by on Sep.20, 2013 @ 11:37 pm, under NPB
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Ryozo Kato would like to step down from his duties as NPB commissioner by October 25 at the latest (the day before the start of the Nippon Series).  The NPB has yet to decide what to do about the commissioner's seal on official game balls -- there is a chance Kato's name will be stamped on baseballs used during the Nippon Series.

Source: Daily Sports 9/20/2013

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Eighteen TV cameras and about 200 members of the media were at Kato's press conference on Thursday.

Source: Daily Sports 9/20/2013

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Owner meeting chairman and Orix Buffaloes' owner Miyauchi Yoshihiko will likely take the lead role in organizing and selecting the next commissioner.

Source: Daily Sports 9/20/2013, Nikkan Sports 9/20/2013

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As the rules currently stand, NPB commissioner terms run for two years between July 1 and the end of June.  That will change to two years from January 1 to the end of December.  For the next commissioner, all twelve teams will be involved in putting together a list of candidates.  The final selection will be made during an owner meeting.  For future commissioners, a selection committee will be established.

Source: Sports Hochi 9/20/2013

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If a new commissioner is not named before Kato steps down, lawyer and NPB commissioner adviser Katsuhiko Kumazaki could be named acting commissioner.

Source: Sponichi 9/20/2013

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Sadaharu Oh may be the leading candidate to replace Kato as commissioner.  When reporters asked him what he thought earlier on, he replied that it would physically be impossible for him to accept the position.  When asked again on Thursday, he replied, "I have not heard anything about it.  Even in talking hypothetically, I do not know if an [offer] will come."

FYI: the commissioner's salary is said to be twenty-four million a year.

Source: Sponichi 9/20/2013

Oh's job as special adviser the commissioner will likely end when Kato steps down.

Source: Sponichi 9/20/2013

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Sports Hochi has posted additional portions of Kato's press conference.

When did you decide to step down?

I feel I have provided the third party panel with a complete and honest account of what I know.  In looking toward the future, I think baseball is at a point where it must move forward.  I recently arrived at the decision that it would be best for me to step down as soon as possible while we are in that kind of situation.

Why now?

We happened to have a general meeting of [NPB] members today and that was it.

You are making this announcement in the middle of a pennant race?

We had a general meeting and I felt it would be best to make my intentions known.

The third party panel will release its report on the 27th.

There is still one month before the end of the regular season.  Once the report is out, I will carefully read it over.  If I need to make a comment, I will.  If something needs to be done, then I will undertake the task sincerely.

Did the twelve team owners accept your resignation as commissioner?

They did.  They also understood the timing.

Source: Sports Hochi 9/20/2013

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Kato will be the fourth commissioner to step down in the middle of a term.  The other three:

  1. Toshi Kaneko - Sixth NPB commissioner, began term in July 1976, stepped down in February 1979 because of the Egawa Incident.
  2. Juhei Takeuchi - Eighth NPB commissioner, began term in May 1985, stepped down in June 1988 because of health reasons.
  3. Hiromori Kawashima - Tenth NPB commissioner, began term in March 1988, stepped down in January 2004.

Source: Sponichi 9/20/2013

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A press conference for the upcoming amateur draft, set to take place on the 24th, has been canceled due to recent events.

Source: Sports Hochi 9/20/2013

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[9/19/2013] Portions of NPB Commissioner Ryozo Kato’s press conference and other quotes

by on Sep.20, 2013 @ 2:15 am, under NPB
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NPB commissioner Ryozo Kato held a press conference after Thursday's owner meeting.  Nikkan Sports has posted a portion of the press conference.

What was the biggest reason for your decision to retire?

The distractions the standard baseball caused.  That was a really large part of it.  The 2020 Olympics will take place in Tokyo.  This is a time for sports to move forward.  I think it would be best for baseball to get a fresh start as soon as possible.

Do you still feel the problem with the standard baseball is not a scandal?

The facts that I have mentioned have not changed.  I did say that a big mistake was made.  I thought I made that part clear too.

Why now?

I told the third party panel everything I know about the situation.  I feel the report will reflect that when it comes out.

Do you feel responsible for what happened with the standard baseball?

I think it is extremely regrettable that things with the standard baseball turned out the way they did.  I apologize for that.

Source: Nikkan Sports 9/20/2013

Responses from players and team owners:

Motohiro Shima (chairman, Japan Professional Baseball Players Association) -- What happens now, whether things get better or worse, will depend on the next comissioner.  I would like select someone that points us in the right direction.  It would be nice if the players association and the NPB could work together to help bring positives to baseball.

Takahiro Arai (former chairman, JPBPA) -- I wonder why he has decided to retire now, when we are nearing the end of the pennant races and entering the most exciting part of the season.  Why now?  As was mentioned in the players association request, I hope [the next commissioner] is someone with strong leadership abilities.

Shinya Miyamoto (former chairman, JPBPA) -- I wonder why he picked this time.  I think he could have [resigned] when everything was done.  I do not really understand it.

Kojiro Shiraishi (owner, Yomiuri Giants) -- It is unfortunate [how things turn out], but he wanted some closure so it cannot be helped.  He did his job as a mediator with the MLB and he worked hard to promote various things, including the World Baseball Classic.  He also helped expand the system that allows former NPB players to coach baseball at academic institutions.

Takashi Goto (owner, Seibu Lions) -- I will support anyone that is willing to work hard to help promote baseball.  How they are selected will be discussed.  The sooner the better, but no sense in rushing.  We will try to speed things along during discussions.

Akio Shigemitsu (acting owner, Chiba Lotte Marines) -- The decision was made with the idea that a new commissioner would take over next year.  The new commissioner should be someone that has a business background.  There were some that wanted to try and keep [Kato] on, but everyone ultimately felt it best to start fresh with a new person.

Toshimasa Shimada (team rep, Nippon Ham Fighters) -- Nippon Ham feels a full-time commissioner would be good.  Even if it is two or three times a week, full-time would be better.  If they cannot come every day, then it would be best to have an assistant.

Makoto Haruta (owner, Yokohama Bay Stars) -- If we consider the distraction we caused to fans, baseball, and to the world, then we should find someone that is willing to pull chestnuts out of a fire.  I cannot think of many names.  The question will be what kind of organization we want to build.

Yoshihiko Miyauchi (owner, Orix Buffaloes and owner chairman) -- October 25 is a deadline.  It is not an option between full-time or part-time.  If necessary, we can include an executive director.  It is important to keep things flexible.

Koichiro Takada (director, Softbank Hawks) -- We do not want any information to leak out and we also need to figure out how to decide on the selection process as soon as possible.  I have no comment [with regards to Sadaharu Oh].

Tsuyoshi Kinugasa (acting owner, Yakult Swallows) -- We did talk about selecting a temporary replacement if we can not decide on a new [commissioner].  The CL feels the commissioner should be someone that can be an arbitrator.  And while this does not go for every PL team, they wanted someone that had a wide range of business experience.

Source: Nikkan Sports 9/20/2013, Sanspo 9/20/2013

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[9/19/2013] NPB Commissioner Ryozo Kato planning to resign

by on Sep.19, 2013 @ 11:51 am, under NPB
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NPB commissioner Ryozo Kato is planning to resign.  The NPB owners will be meeting today in Tokyo at 2:00pm.  Kato is expected to announce his intentions during the session.  In speaking to Sports Hochi, he admitted that questions about changes to the standard baseball influenced his decision.

"I feel it is my responsibility that it became such a big problem.  Unlike other sports, I do not want to be put into a situation where I go on the offensive.  I think it is in the best interest of the NPB for me to step down," Kato said.

However, stepping down was something Kato was already considering as far back as January because he wanted to make sure the transition to the next commissioner went smoothly.  The issues with the standard baseball came to light in June.

"Regarding the standard baseball, I would like to say that as a human being, I would never lie about it or try to hide it. ... I started the project [with the standard baseball] because I wanted to see it used at international tournaments, like the Asia Series, the World Cup, and when it makes it back, the Olympics.  But all that fell apart," Kato said.

He added, "I am not trying to avoid responsibility by announcing my retirement.  I await [the reports] in good faith."

Kato is in the middle of his third term, which was set to end in June next year.  He is hoping to step down some time between the end of the regular season and start of the Nippon Series.  He will become the fourth commissioner to resign in the middle of a term.

Source: Nikkan Sports 9/19/2013, Daily Sports 9/19/2013, Sponichi 9/19/2013Sports Hochi 9/19/2013, Sports Hochi 9/19/2013

UPDATE @ 4:10pm -

Kato announced his intention to resign during the owner meetings that took place earlier today in Tokyo.

Source: Sponichi 9/19/2013, Daily Sports 9/19/2013

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A number of teams did not approve reappointment of Kato as NPB Commissioner

by on Jul.01, 2012 @ 1:50 am, under NPB
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A number of unnamed sources told reporters on Saturday that a handful of teams did not approve the reappointment of Ryozo Kato as NPB commissioner.  Kato's term was supposed to end on June 30, but all twelve teams were informed that it was extended until the next owners meeting on July 12 (his reappointment will be deliberated).

According to the unnamed sources, a number of teams are not satisfied with Kato, both in terms of what he has done and how he is runs the things.  There are also concerns with how he is handling affairs for the Japan national team.  Some are even pushing for a more detailed explanation on how commissioners are selected/appointed.

Kato became the NPB Commissioner in July 2008 and has held the seat for two terms.

Source: Sponichi 6/30/2012

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UPDATE 7/2 @ 12:54am - According to Sanspo, all six Pacific League teams did not approve of Kato's reappointment as NPB commissioner.  All six Central League teams did.

Regarding the reasons why, the PL wants more say in the commissioner selection process.  They also want to restructure the broadcast rights -- each team currently controls their own rights, but Pacific League teams would like the league to control all rights and then split the profits with the twelve teams.  The CL is against splitting profits because it would mean the Yomiuri Giants, Hanshin Tigers, and Chunichi Dragons are paying for PL expenses.

The matter will be discussed during the next owners meeting on July 12.  Until then, Kato will be the acting commissioner.

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UPDATE 7/3 @ 3:58pm - Sponichi is reporting that all twelve teams are now leaning towards approving Kato as NPB commissioner for a third term.

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UPDATE 7/3 @ 11:55pm - Kato does not plan to get actively involved in discussions regarding his third term and will quietly wait for the owners to make their final decision during the owners meeting on July 12.  Source: Nikkan Sports 7/3/2012

Sanspo notes that the NPB held a team rep meeting in Tokyo on Monday.  Softbank Hawks' acting owner Kazuhiko Kasai told reporters the commissioner selection process needed to be worked out.  Another unnamed PL rep said he did not think Kato was fulfilling his duties as the commissioner of the league.

Central League thinking about introducing starting pitcher announcements for 2012

by on Feb.04, 2012 @ 3:46 am, under NPB
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NPB Commissioner Ryozo Kato began his annual spring camp road trip with a stop at Miyazaki Ikime-no Mori Stadium on Friday (Softbank Hawks).

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A number of sources with connections to the Central League informed the media on Friday that the league is thinking about introducing starting pitcher announcements in a move to improve attendance figures this season.  The league is currently in the process of rounding opinions from each of the team and a number of teams are already prepared to approve the change.  The issue will be discussed during a board of directors meeting on March 1.

"I cannot deny that there is a chance this new rule will be adopted this season.  We will need to decide during our next board meeting on March 1.  We will listen to opinions and if a lot are against it, it may not pass." said the league's chairman, Chunichi Dragons' team rep Ryohei Sato.

The Pacific League began making starting pitcher announcements for opening day games in 1983 and fully adopted the rule for every game during the season in 1994 (other than during Inter-league play).  The Central League Hiroshima Carp and Yomiuri Giants did agree to starting pitcher announcements in 1994, but other than those two teams, it has never been used in the CL.

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NPB commissioner Ryozo Kato has gallstones removed

by on May.24, 2011 @ 10:36 pm, under NPB
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NPB commissioner Ryozo Kato had an operation to remove gallstones today.  According to the NPB, Kato hadn't been feeling well since the end of the last year and found out in mid-March that he had gallstones.

Kato is expected to be released from the hospital in a couple of days and will continue to receive treatment after that.

UPDATE 6/1 @ 6:24pm - Kato was discharged from the hospital today and will spend the next few days getting rest at home.  He is expected back at the office early next week.

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Ryozo Kato likely to say on as NPB commissioner

by on Jun.29, 2010 @ 10:44 pm, under NPB
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Ryozo Kato became the 12th NPB commissioner in 7/2008.  Last year, an update to the NPB agreement shortened the term for the NPB commissioner from 3 years to 2 years and also specified that commissioners would be decided / selected at owner meetings.

With the next owner meeting set for 7/7, it seems likely that the owners will allow Kato to stay on as commissioner of the league for at least another term.

"We don't really have any one in mind to replace Mr. Kato at this point," said someone close to the decision.

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The mayor of Naha city expressed interest in hosting a 2013 All-Star game at Okinawa Cellular Stadium Naha and said that a request was filed with the commissioner's office at the end of last year.  The mayor also said that the city approached every NPB club (except for the Eagles) this month to see if they would be interested in playing games at Cellular Stadium next season.

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