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  • Japan is the next stop for MLB expansion?

    I'm not sure I like this idea. Japanese baseball is already struggling because it's losing its top players.

    Japan is the next stop for MLB expansion

    By Jim Caple
    Page 2
    Friday May 23, 2008

    Fifty years ago, the Dodgers and Giants moved from New York to the West Coast, transforming the senior circuit into a truly national league, making Walter O'Malley a very hated man and, most importantly, paving the way for the Famous Chicken. A half century later, with 15 Japanese players in America this season and more following, with U.S. teams playing regular season games in Tokyo and with David Stern talking about the NBA expanding to Europe, it's time for Major League Baseball to likewise consider expanding across the Pacific to Asia.

    There is no timetable for expansion overseas, but it makes enough financial sense to be a good possibility before Evan Longoria calls it a career. Hell, we might see it before Eva Longoria calls it a marriage with Tony Parker. Obviously, the biggest issue is the distance, which was also true before baseball expanded to the west coast. Commercial aviation made MLB's move to California possible by cutting travel time between America's coasts. As Paul Archey, the head of MLB International, put it: "You wouldn't have been able to expand to the West Coast if you were still taking trains." Actually, travel times aren't that bad now -- you can already fly from Japan to Seattle in eight and a half hours (flying the opposite direction takes about 10 hours). That's less than it took me to fly from DC to Seattle this week (counting the connection in Chicago). Traveling between the West Coast and Japan just isn't that difficult, and frankly, lots of people in all sorts of fields do it all the time. You don't need a lot of recovery time, either. A day would suffice, two at the most. As every experienced traveler knows, jet leg can often be a matter of expectations. If you expect to feel awful after a 4,500 mile flight, you surely will. If you think jet lag won't be that bad, it becomes pretty manageable -- if not downright pleasurable if you're a big leaguer flying first class with someone else carrying your bags and arranging your tickets and doing everything else short of feeding you peeled grapes. The difficulty is convincing pampered players who already spend 120 nights on the road that it isn't that big a deal to add a trans-Pacific trip to the schedule. Heck, I once listened to a player complain about traveling to Canada. But if 60-year-old flight attendants can not only manage the trip but can also pour coffee and wheel food carts up and down the aisles for much of the flight, athletes in their prime should be able to manage sitting, sleeping and watching movies during the same trip. Especially when they get a $40,000 bonus for doing so (as the Red Sox and Athletics did this spring).

    When O'Malley wanted to move the Dodgers to Los Angeles, he got his arch-rival Giants to go with him to California because there had to be at least two teams on the West Coast to make the move work. Similarly, to appease the players by limiting trips overseas to once or at most twice a season, U.S. teams would need to be able to play multiple opponents over the course of two weeks in Japan. Who would own these teams and how they would be incorporated into the existing leagues also is a major and tricky issue, although Boston manager Terry Francona said, "I'm confident they wouldn't be in the same division as us." "I don't know logistically how it would work," Francona said when the Red Sox and Athletics opened the season in Japan. "I think there's obvious passion and interest in Japan baseball and Major League Baseball, but how that would work, I don't know. The fun thing for me would be having a series here when the season is over, but I don't know how it would work. Saying it would be fun and making it work are two different things." True, but there are all sorts of workable scenarios. Existing Japanese teams could join our major leagues as out-right expansion teams. Or MLB could start its own teams. Or Japan's current leagues could play their own schedule -- including interleague games against North American teams -- with the top team advancing into the playoff system. Or select teams from Japan, China and Korea could form their own Asia division. Or there could be a system that incorporates aspects of all those options. Or another system entirely that makes sense. The point is, it's possible. More than that, it could also help stem the problem of Japan losing its best players by allowing them to test major league waters while staying in their homeland. Bobby Valentine, currently managing the Chiba Lotte Marines, said MLB needs to see Japan as more than a source of players for harvest and follow Stern's goal of expansion across the oceans. "MLB should understand, the game of baseball is too important here in Asia to just take the talent away," Valentine says. "What the MLB has to do is think of baseball as being the primary goal and the growth of baseball in the world, not just the growth of individual franchises in the states." Expansion to Japan but it's the next logical step in baseball's global vision. As long as there is money to be made, the owners will find a way to overcome the hurdles.
    Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

  • #2
    One problem is travel but what this writer forgot to ask is how many times will Japanese teams travel from Japan to America. MLB could concievably have 36 teams (6 teams for 6 divisions) or just have 32 (4 teams for 8 divisions). Either way, there will be quite a lot of travel.
    Unlike most other team sports, in which teams usually have an equivalent number of players on the field at any given time, in baseball the hitting team is at a numerical disadvantage, with a maximum of 5 players and 2 base coaches on the field at any time, compared to the fielding team's 9 players. For this reason, leaving the dugout to join a fight is generally considered acceptable in that it results in numerical equivalence on the field, and a fairer fight.

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    • #3
      Live broadcasting would not go well in the US for games in Japan.

      Japan is not the next stop for expansion. Not even close. Not sure if Japanese officials would like it.

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      • #4
        It makes no sense. It's bad enough no one on the East Coast stays up late enough to watch 7:10 PM PDT games. Imagine having a 17-hour time difference because a game is being played literally on the other side of the world. Scheduling would be logistically difficult.
        SOUVENEZ-VOUS LES EXPOS!!!
        "The future's uncertain and the end is always near" - Jim Morrison

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        • #5
          Originally posted by mojorisin71 View Post
          It makes no sense. It's bad enough no one on the East Coast stays up late enough to watch 7:10 PM PDT games. Imagine having a 17-hour time difference because a game is being played literally on the other side of the world. Scheduling would be logistically difficult.
          If I've learned something this year is that it would just mean I go to bed earlier to watch a morning game. But I would hate this since it never feels right to watch a game and then go do stuff, baseball games are usually the last thing I do. West-coasters would have to wake up even earlier. I call it sweet revenge on me staying up until 1-2 am for this past week.
          Unlike most other team sports, in which teams usually have an equivalent number of players on the field at any given time, in baseball the hitting team is at a numerical disadvantage, with a maximum of 5 players and 2 base coaches on the field at any time, compared to the fielding team's 9 players. For this reason, leaving the dugout to join a fight is generally considered acceptable in that it results in numerical equivalence on the field, and a fairer fight.

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          • #6
            I couldn't bring myself to watch the A's/Red Sox series in Japan because on 364 out of 365 days, I set aside that time for resting.
            SOUVENEZ-VOUS LES EXPOS!!!
            "The future's uncertain and the end is always near" - Jim Morrison

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            • #7
              A's/Red Sox series in Japan - Great way to outsource the stadium vendors!

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              • #8
                Originally posted by mojorisin71 View Post
                Scheduling would be logistically difficult.
                It would probably make the season longer. After a US team plays in Japan...would they need a day off for travel and recoop.?...if not, would they have to play on the west-coast because playing in the east-coast would be too "soon"?

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Honus Wagner Rules View Post
                  I'm not sure I like this idea. Japanese baseball is already struggling because it's losing its top players.

                  I hope it doesn't happen but with marketing Bud, you just never know. If it does you may get that MLB Japan WS that you liked the idea of.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Old Sweater View Post
                    I hope it doesn't happen but with marketing Bud, you just never know. If it does you may get that MLB Japan WS that you liked the idea of.
                    That is different. A seven game "World Series" between the MLB and NPB champions would be awesome. It would be like the NFL-AFL Super Bowls. And many major leaguers are open to the idea. But I don't see it happening anytime soon. A supersonic airliner would be needed and there isn't one planned by any aerospace company at the moment.
                    Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

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                    • #11
                      Maybe when there's teleporters and people can watch TV in their sleep. Until then, it wouldn't work.
                      "I'm happy for [Edwin Encarnacion] because this guy bleeds internally, big-time" -Dusty Baker

                      "If on-base percentage is so important, then why don't they put it on the scoreboard?" -Jeff Francoeur

                      "At the end of the day, the sun comes up and I still have a job" -Joba Chamberlain

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Honus Wagner Rules View Post
                        That is different. A seven game "World Series" between the MLB and NPB champions would be awesome. It would be like the NFL-AFL Super Bowls. And many major leaguers are open to the idea. But I don't see it happening anytime soon. A supersonic airliner would be needed and there isn't one planned by any aerospace company at the moment.
                        Well, JAXA (Japan) is currently developing a supersonic aircraft though there is no date on which it will be released for commercial use. EUROPA (Europe) is developing a craft to become available within 25 years (which I don't believe) and finally Aerion (USA) is developing one. Now, I high doubt any of these aircraft will make it since the failures of Concorde and Tu-144.
                        Unlike most other team sports, in which teams usually have an equivalent number of players on the field at any given time, in baseball the hitting team is at a numerical disadvantage, with a maximum of 5 players and 2 base coaches on the field at any time, compared to the fielding team's 9 players. For this reason, leaving the dugout to join a fight is generally considered acceptable in that it results in numerical equivalence on the field, and a fairer fight.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by redlegsfan21 View Post
                          Well, JAXA (Japan) is currently developing a supersonic aircraft though there is no date on which it will be released for commercial use. EUROPA (Europe) is developing a craft to become available within 25 years (which I don't believe) and finally Aerion (USA) is developing one. Now, I high doubt any of these aircraft will make it since the failures of Concorde and Tu-144.
                          Good info to know. Boeing did substantial supersonic research in the mid 1990s. They concluded that a supersonic airliner is still not commercially viable at the time even with the many improvements in technology since the Concorde debuted.
                          Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I know this isn't really directly related to baseball. But what about the simple fact that you're talking about a lot more flights being needed. Last time I checked jet fuel was going up higher than fuel for our cars. You start having teams fly across the world you're going to see a lot more fuel used up. I know this is def something they can afford but probably not one of the smartest things to do considering how much our world is going to be effected by these rising oil prices. I dunno, it might be on such a small scale we wouldn't notice. I just know that when MLB teams have to fly over to Japan for games that expense is going to have to be made up somehow.

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                            • #15
                              I think they should get more teams in US, Canada, and Caribbean first.

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