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Who are the Rakuten Monkeys?

The Rakuten Monkeys are one of the most dominant teams in the Chinese Professional Baseball League, and so we thought we should introduce them first as part of our "Explainer Series." However, before discussing the Rakuten Monkeys, we need to delve into the history of the Chinese Professional Baseball League to understand their backstory.

The Backstory of the Chinese Professional Baseball League

The Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) emerged on October 23, 1989. About six months later, the first Chinese Professional Baseball game took place on March 17, 1990. The league office chose four Taiwanese companies to develop professional teams, which were Wei Chuan Corp., Uni-President Enterprises Corp., Mercuries & Associates, and Brother Hotel Inc. To this day, all Chinese Professional Baseball League teams are owned, operated, and named after corporations. All CPBL teams control their regional markets within their home cities, though, because each team plays both in their local market, in addition to neutral sites, clubs have yet to identify after the city they represent. With an expansion in place for a 5th team to join the league, the Wei Chuan Dragons are set to join the Chinese Professional Baseball League in 2021, though they will compete this year in the CPBL minor leagues.

Rakuten Who?

Rakuten, Inc. is a rather large organization that maintains its headquarters in Tokyo and is recognized for its internet services. While the former name of the team was the Lamigo Monkeys, there was an ownership change, and they became the Rakuten Monkeys in December of 2019. With Rakuten acquiring the Monkeys, it does not mark the first time Rakuten has been involved with a sports organization. Rakuten is known for its partnerships with both FC Barcelona and the Golden State Warriors. The Rakuten Monkeys began operating under their current name for this year’s Chinese Professional Baseball League season. Early into their ownership change, the Rakuten Monkeys are already establishing a name for themselves in Taiwan. It is their intention to both build up the CPBL, in addition to improving the economy of Taiwan. The decision to become involved in the CPBL shows that Rakuten has the desire to spread awareness of the Rakuten brand, while further assisting in the economic region.

What’s with the Logo?

The Rakuten Monkeys set out to design an artistic logo for their franchise, where the finished product of the teams’ mascot reveals an ape that was created by a Japanese artist, along with members of Rakuten’s creative department. With the Rakuten Monkeys also updating their uniforms, one could assume that the recipe of the team has traveled in a different direction.

A Decade of Domination

Throughout the previous decade, the Rakuten Monkeys have been quite dominant in the Chinese Professional Baseball League, capturing the Taiwan Series the past three seasons, and triumphant six of the past ten seasons. While the Uni-Lions have won the most Taiwan Series to date with nine championships, the Rakuten Monkeys aren’t far behind. Over the leagues’ 30-year history, the Monkeys have won the second most championships in Chinese Professional Baseball League history with seven titles, which came in 2006, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, and 2019.

Where are they Based?

The Rakuten Monkeys are based out of Taoyuan City, where they take the field for their home games at Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium. The Rakuten Monkeys had a perfect ending to last season, knowing that they would be changing ownership the following season. They defeated the Chinatrust Brothers in game 5 of the Taiwan Series for their third consecutive title. The attendance of the 2019 Chinese Professional Baseball League saw an increase of 6.76% compared to the 2018 season. Per usual, the Rakuten Monkeys produced the highest turnout among all the CPBL teams. While the league average for attendance last season was 5,826 per game, the Rakuten Monkeys averaged 7,308 fans per game.

Taoyuan, Taiwan

The city of Taoyuan represents a wide variety of cultures, which comprises of Southern Fujian, Hakka, indigenous people, and immigrants. These cultures work collectively to improve the cultural landscape of the city of Taoyuan. The diverse cultural groups strive towards promoting self-sufficiency while fostering cultural development for the city of Taoyuan. With the community persevering to coincide with one another over the previous few years, conversations have transpired about cultural heritage preservation, and urban development, which shows that the people of Taoyuan are taking the initiative to make a difference.

While the city of Taoyuan is home for the Rakuten Monkeys, the city is associated with pastimes other than just baseball, including softball, where they have two state-of-the-art softball fields. Some of the additional sports Taoyuan is known for include tennis, badminton, track and field, swimming, and even archery.

Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium

The Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium opened in 2010 as a multi-use ballpark. With the seating capacity of the stadium reaching 20,000, it is one of the most prominent ballparks in Taiwan. The Rakuten Monkeys take an unusual approach towards the fan seating arrangement, as they place the home teams’ fans in the two-tiered infield. In contrast, the away teams’ supporters are directed to assemble out in the outfield. If the Rakuten Monkeys don’t have a game and they aren’t practicing in the stadium, the Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium turns into a popular concert venue.

Who’s their MVP?

The former MVP of the league is Chu Yu-Hsien of the Rakuten Monkeys. Last year across 118 games, he batted .347 with 93 runs scored, 30 home runs, and 105 runs batted in. One of the familiar faces of the Rakuten Monkeys on this year’s roster is Ryan Carpenter. He recently made his Major League debut in 2018, though the Detroit Tigers released him in September. Carpenter would not accept his career to be over, so he undertook the journey to the Chinese Professional Baseball League.

With the Rakuten Monkeys establishing a name for themselves in the city of Taoyuan, including the island of Taiwan, in won’t be long until they are recognized around the globe.

 

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