I do a lot of bashing of Beelzebud Selig and his cronies for their relentless avarice and stupidity, so I owe it to them to point out when they've done something farsighted and intelligent.
Sunday, MLB and its fledgling counterpart, the China Baseball Association, announced they would formally team up to promote baseball in every corner of the communist nation ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. It's a decision both romantic and lucrative.
"Baseball was born in America. Now it belongs to the world," [Jim Small, Major League Baseball's vice president of international market development] said. "But if baseball is truly to be considered a global sport, it needs to be played in some key countries -- and China is at the top of that list."
Now, professional and college coaches will stream into China to work with young prospects. Top Chinese coaches will travel to America for stints with major-league clubs. Chinese umpires will receive training. Youth development programs -- including possibly the famed Pitch, Hit and Run that so many American youngsters have competed in -- will flourish.
Most significantly, MLB will start scouting in China, finding the country's top players and grooming them for big-league play. No details were given.
One thing I will look forward to is to see how youth and Little League coaches develop training regimens. As I recall from the 70s and 80s, when Japanese Little League teams were dominant, they had some methods that were considered unorthodox but effective, such as using an orange baseball so players could see it better. Who knows what kind of innovation a few million new minds could bring to the table?
Speaking of Little Leagues, here's a ticklish question: Given that their teams have also had a fair bit of success in championship competition, will MLB be pursuing opportunities in Taiwan as well? The sport has a pretty long history there. I'm sure the answer is No, which is just too bad. There are some things even the love of baseball can't overcome.Posted by Charles Kuffner on November 24, 2003 to Baseball | TrackBack