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Only Selig could go to China

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.

Brilliant, and I mean that in the sincere, non-snarky way. This is a vital and necessary step to take, and it should reap many long-term rewards. Baseball has benefitted tremendously from its investment in Latin America, and it will do so from an equally vigorous push in the Far East.

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.

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  1. Tim says:

    Bud had better be careful with this China thing.

    If it is too successful, some of the developing young players may quickly get into the MLB system. And I believe that under the current CBA (just like prior ones), these players would be free agents not subject to the draft, yes?

    Where do most of the high-profile, greatest-talent players tend to sign?

    Not the teams that Selig thinks are already “unable to compete,” that much is for sure, and certainly not Bud’s Brewers. So for all his talk about bringing more economic parity into the game and sticking it to the free-spending clubs, is he just providing another talent source for the Yankees — the poster children for Bud’s crusade — to mine?

  2. There’s been talk about making international players subject to the draft, but IIRC, the players’ union has resisted so far. I suspect this will be a bigger issue over time, and that sooner or later, something will have to give.

  3. Monti VanBrunt says:

    I am in Beijing teaching and promoting baseball the american way. I am involved at all level of teaching baseball here. And am working very hard at forming team at the primary, middle, and high schools here. The only peoblem is the lack of equipment. So if anyone could help me in this area I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks Monti