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The Economist view of Baseball in Japan

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  • The Economist view of Baseball in Japan

    Found this article on The Economist website:

    http://www.economist.com/business/di...ry_id=10925686

    It's interesting for three reasons:

    (1) it shows just how little the rest of the world understands baseball (it calls the MLB the governing body of the sport)

    (2) it highlights the disturbing possibility (however remote) that Japan would become just another farm

    (3) it note that the MLB has been eyeing India (which is news to me and if the MLB is then good luck to them, because not even traditionally popular sports in India such as hockey (not ice-hockey) have a difficult enough time surviving with an ever-dominant cricket scene).

    What do you all think of the article?

  • #2
    Other than the error on MLB as the "governing body" of the sport, (which is a ridiculous gaffe, though MLB tends to be the 600 pound gorilla in any baseball discussion it deigns to participate in) it's a pretty basic article with very little meat. NPB can improve its position greatly if it only managed its business more competently. MLB has every reason to try and expand its influence, and it is wise to make reasonable efforts in this regard.
    Seen on a bumper sticker: If only closed minds came with closed mouths.
    Some minds are like concrete--thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.
    A Lincoln: I don't think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by jalbright View Post
      Other than the error on MLB as the "governing body" of the sport, (which is a ridiculous gaffe, though MLB tends to be the 600 pound gorilla in any baseball discussion it deigns to participate in) it's a pretty basic article with very little meat. NPB can improve its position greatly if it only managed its business more competently. MLB has every reason to try and expand its influence, and it is wise to make reasonable efforts in this regard.
      I agree, Jim. The article didn't really say anything other than MLB is expanding around the world and the companies that own NPB teams do a poor job of managing the financial aspects of the teams.
      Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

      Comment


      • #4
        There is no doubt that the addition of Japanese stars only enhances MLB. Just as true, it weakens NPB. It's a big problem for baseball in Japan. The leagues are seemingly being dismantled (best piece by best piece) and shipped overseas. It's only natural that their fan base would shed a greater eye to MLB.

        It's no the first time MLB has destroyed other leagues; however NPB is the second biggest league in the world. It's a bit of a shame. Look for the Cuban League to suffer the same problem if that country ever opens up.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Brian McKenna View Post
          There is no doubt that the addition of Japanese stars only enhances MLB. Just as true, it weakens NPB. It's a big problem for baseball in Japan. The leagues are seemingly being dismantled (best piece by best piece) and shipped overseas. It's only natural that their fan base would shed a greater eye to MLB.

          It's no the first time MLB has destroyed other leagues; however NPB is the second biggest league in the world. It's a bit of a shame. Look for the Cuban League to suffer the same problem if that country ever opens up.
          I wonder if the ultimate fate of NPB is more likely to be like that of the old AFL or the Pacific Coast League. The major question is when the technology we have available would make West Coast US to Japan or vice versa like travel between the East and West Coasts of the US is today. I think one or the other scenario will play out, as MLB doesn't want to kill the game in Japan, but does covet the affluent market Japan represents. MLB should be trying to walk that tightrope until the technology catches up and makes such travel feasible. MLB might be able to kill NPB outright without being able to place teams there, but it might greatly curtail the Japanese market if it did so. I'd tread lightly in that direction if I were them.

          Cuba, on the other hand, doesn't have the kind of affluent market MLB craves, nor is it likely to if and when MLB is able to really go after Cuban players. I can't see Cuban teams being able to be even close to as competitive in salary to the majors as NPB can be and is, and thus Cuba is likely to become a pure feeder when the dam of that talent is breached.
          Seen on a bumper sticker: If only closed minds came with closed mouths.
          Some minds are like concrete--thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.
          A Lincoln: I don't think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.

          Comment


          • #6
            As a side note - Hawaii had teams in the PCL. Did they actually play there for home games?

            Comment


            • #7
              Japan ran a winter league in Hawaii for a while as well.
              Seen on a bumper sticker: If only closed minds came with closed mouths.
              Some minds are like concrete--thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.
              A Lincoln: I don't think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Brian McKenna View Post
                As a side note - Hawaii had teams in the PCL. Did they actually play there for home games?
                How long have colleges in Hawaii participated in "regular season" sports with colleges on the continent?
                Whenever, did it develop as "vacation in Hawaii" for their visitors.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by jalbright View Post
                  The major question is when the technology we have available would make West Coast US to Japan or vice versa like travel between the East and West Coasts of the US is today.
                  Don't wait for it. Intercontinental travel is scheduled to be become more expensive, not less.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by jalbright View Post
                    Other than the error on MLB as the "governing body" of the sport, (which is a ridiculous gaffe, though MLB tends to be the 600 pound gorilla in any baseball discussion it deigns to participate in) it's a pretty basic article with very little meat. NPB can improve its position greatly if it only managed its business more competently. MLB has every reason to try and expand its influence, and it is wise to make reasonable efforts in this regard.
                    Originally posted by Honus Wagner Rules
                    I agree, Jim. The article didn't really say anything other than MLB is expanding around the world and the companies that own NPB teams do a poor job of managing the financial aspects of the teams.
                    Well you are both right, but then you might want to think about from the perspective of country it is published in: the United Kingdom. As a UK "newspaper" (magazine really) it's a fairly good bet that most of the readership (and obviously most of the staff as is apparent from the error) don't follow baseball at all. The error concerning the MLB's role in baseball is ridiculous, but I can understand it. After all in most other sports, the best known governing entity is actually the global governing entity of the sport (FIFA being the best example, but there is also the IOC, IRB and so on). Other governing entities usually have their location in their name (UEFA) so it isn't difficult to guess or assume that those entities don't run the sport globally. However, there is absolutely nothing in the MLB's name to indicate that it operates franchises only in North America. Plus, the best known baseball tournament is operated by the MLB and is called the World Series. Ask anyone outside baseballing circles if they have ever heard of the IBAF or the MLB and I'd be willing to bet $100 that they would say the MLB almost every time and give a blank stare for the term "IBAF" (they might even guess IBAF governed basketball instead of baseball). I'm sure many in baseballing circles also have little or no clue what the IBAF is or actually does (considering that many people were calling the 2006 Classic the first baseball world cup I don't think I'm too far off the mark). None of this is the fault of the MLB of course, but given the MLB's noteriaty they are the best placed to promote international baseball through the IBAF and alongside the NPB and KBO. I think until the IBAF becomes at least as well associated with baseball as UEFA is with football (but more ideally like FIFA and football), then international baseball will continue to suffer under the misconception of being an "American" game.

                    I'm not sure I agree with jalbright's position that the MLB has ever reason to try and expand its influence. It's influence is pretty far and wide already and expanding its influence into Japan could basically kill off the NPB if not done properly and then it would be even harder to dispel the myth that baseball isn't simply an American sport. There's no problem if the MLB kills off other leagues and turns them into feeders in North America (that's what competition within a single domestic market is all about - provided that future competitors are allowed to rise every now and again if their ideas are sound), but doing so in the rest of the world probably wouldn't go down too well with some fans in places like Japan and Australia. It's the same reason that the Premier League's ridiculous idea to play a round outside of England bit the dust - it would have eventually killed off local leagues and set back development there and basically turned football from being a global sport into being a European one with feeders from the rest of world.

                    Hmmm...I always thought that what the Premier League needed to do was to approach FIFA and the other major leagues with the idea of starting a proper global Premier League of the best teams in the world (not based in any one country) instead of trying to burst out of its own English market (the Premier League itself started in a similar fashion)....perhaps the MLB and world baseball as a whole would be better served if the MLB worked out a global league with the NPB, KBO, CPBL, Mexican, Dominican, Venezuelan (and eventually Cuban, Australian and various European) leagues to start a proper Global League that wouldn't be based in one country or on one continent. Sure it wouldn't be popular at first and would be somewhat restricted in terms of time (anything involving more than 4 or 6 time zones would have to be anyway), but with some of the big names from the MLB, NPB, KBO and CPBL playing it would guaranteed some basic interest from which to grow and spread baseball globally. That I think would at least be more practical to happen than to wait for technology to allow cross-Pacific travel to be as fast (and affordable) as travelling between the East and West coasts of the USA today so that the MLB can one day setup teams there and play as regularly as they do now (after all teams already exists, they just need to be properly managed).

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by ShawnC View Post
                      I'm not sure I agree with jalbright's position that the MLB has ever reason to try and expand its influence. It's influence is pretty far and wide already and expanding its influence into Japan could basically kill off the NPB if not done properly and then it would be even harder to dispel the myth that baseball isn't simply an American sport. There's no problem if the MLB kills off other leagues and turns them into feeders in North America (that's what competition within a single domestic market is all about - provided that future competitors are allowed to rise every now and again if their ideas are sound), but doing so in the rest of the world probably wouldn't go down too well with some fans in places like Japan and Australia. It's the same reason that the Premier League's ridiculous idea to play a round outside of England bit the dust - it would have eventually killed off local leagues and set back development there and basically turned football from being a global sport into being a European one with feeders from the rest of world.

                      Hmmm...I always thought that what the Premier League needed to do was to approach FIFA and the other major leagues with the idea of starting a proper global Premier League of the best teams in the world (not based in any one country) instead of trying to burst out of its own English market (the Premier League itself started in a similar fashion)....perhaps the MLB and world baseball as a whole would be better served if the MLB worked out a global league with the NPB, KBO, CPBL, Mexican, Dominican, Venezuelan (and eventually Cuban, Australian and various European) leagues to start a proper Global League that wouldn't be based in one country or on one continent. Sure it wouldn't be popular at first and would be somewhat restricted in terms of time (anything involving more than 4 or 6 time zones would have to be anyway), but with some of the big names from the MLB, NPB, KBO and CPBL playing it would guaranteed some basic interest from which to grow and spread baseball globally. That I think would at least be more practical to happen than to wait for technology to allow cross-Pacific travel to be as fast (and affordable) as travelling between the East and West coasts of the USA today so that the MLB can one day setup teams there and play as regularly as they do now (after all teams already exists, they just need to be properly managed).
                      I will suggest you didn't read what I had to say very carefully. MLB is a business and has every reason to try and expand its influence. However, I indicated quite clearly that in the case of Japan, MLB would be making a grave error to kill off NPB without being able to essentially keep the Japanese market satisfied with the professional baseball it gets. It may be that the soccer model would work best, but alternatives would be expanding into the Japanese market and/or merger with some or all of NPB. The problem with the soccer model at present is that there are currently only two places that have the resources to present top-notch talent: NPB and MLB. The soccer model presumes far more leagues capable of paying for top-notch talent. Regardless, the key for MLB is to find a way to expand its influence in Japan without destroying the professional baseball market there. I said this before, not quite so explicitly, and I am now rectifying that omission.

                      Taiwan and Korea, like it or not, are basically only capable at present of being feeders to Japan or MLB, and, while those areas might be able to support a few teams in an Asian league with most teams in Japan, there's too many teams in too small a market to compete with NPB or MLB right now. I have a hard time seeing more than about 10-16 Asian teams total at present being able to compete at a level close to MLB on any sustained basis. Japan has some teams with financial difficulties, and multiple teams in the same metropolitan areas--that can work, but even if all the Japanese teams were to survive, that would be 12, and if you could add two Korean and two Taiwanese teams, that would get you to 16. If Korea got one to two more teams, Japan could get less and it would work out fine.
                      Seen on a bumper sticker: If only closed minds came with closed mouths.
                      Some minds are like concrete--thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.
                      A Lincoln: I don't think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        As I stated before until there is a supersonic civilian airliner having MLB teams play Janpanese teams on a regular basis will not be practical. Neither Boeing nor AirBus have any plans to develop such an aircraft in the near future.
                        Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by jalbright View Post
                          I will suggest you didn't read what I had to say very carefully. MLB is a business and has every reason to try and expand its influence. However, I indicated quite clearly that in the case of Japan, MLB would be making a grave error to kill off NPB without being able to essentially keep the Japanese market satisfied with the professional baseball it gets. It may be that the soccer model would work best, but alternatives would be expanding into the Japanese market and/or merger with some or all of NPB. The problem with the soccer model at present is that there are currently only two places that have the resources to present top-notch talent: NPB and MLB. The soccer model presumes far more leagues capable of paying for top-notch talent. Regardless, the key for MLB is to find a way to expand its influence in Japan without destroying the professional baseball market there. I said this before, not quite so explicitly, and I am now rectifying that omission.

                          Taiwan and Korea, like it or not, are basically only capable at present of being feeders to Japan or MLB, and, while those areas might be able to support a few teams in an Asian league with most teams in Japan, there's too many teams in too small a market to compete with NPB or MLB right now. I have a hard time seeing more than about 10-16 Asian teams total at present being able to compete at a level close to MLB on any sustained basis. Japan has some teams with financial difficulties, and multiple teams in the same metropolitan areas--that can work, but even if all the Japanese teams were to survive, that would be 12, and if you could add two Korean and two Taiwanese teams, that would get you to 16. If Korea got one to two more teams, Japan could get less and it would work out fine.
                          Sorry if it seems I misquoted you, but I understood what you were saying and I agree that the MLB should be careful with how it expands in Japan (which is why I mentioned that the MLB could kill off Japan if it didn't go about expanding its influence properly - it can expand its influence without killing the NPB and that would be okay along the lines that the Premier League and UEFA have expanded world influence without killing local entities elsewhere). You are right that the MLB is a business, but then so is the Premier League if I may draw on examples from other sports. But being a business, doesn't mean that the Premier League should necessarily start playing in other countries even though it is fully capable of it. I just maintain a similar view with regards the MLB, NBP, NBA, MLS, NFL, Premier League, NHL, La Liga, Serie A and Bundesliga (all excellent leagues by the way).

                          Korea and Taiwan are only capable of being feeders now, but if baseball outside of the USA isn't handled with care that is all they (and many others) will be ever capable of since there would be little incentive to establishing viable local teams (who would want to play locally and wait for the local team to become fully established when all the fame and fortune could had much more quickly playing for a well known MLB team?) or a proper structure to support them (as a business it would make more sense to have facilities just good enough in the feeder areas to provide decent talent for the franchises and their facilities since that would provide more immediate returns for less initial expenditure - a similar principle is why Heathrow is the hell on earth it is today since the same entity controls the only viable alternative airports in London). Right now most African and Asian countries are in a similar position with regards to club soccer in Europe, but only two things basically African and Asian soccer from just being a literal feeder (and thus allow it room for potential development over the long term): 1. international soccer is still fairly popular so players still hope to represent their home country and maintain links with it even if playing in Europe and 2. European leagues don't play in those countries - if they did, it's a safe bet that no local league would properly survive and whereas local standards are currently encouraged by any local revenue generated and by the need to reach a higher standard, without those local leagues sport development would take a beating.

                          I agree entirely that "there's too many teams in too small a market to compete with NPB or MLB right now" for Korea and Taiwan. Considering that South Korea has 50 million though, I would say Korea has the potential to support around 4 major teams (you don't really need more to form a "league" since there would be positions other than just first and last and no promotion-relegation system as is commonly used in Europe). Taiwan would be able to support a couple (and thus might not have good prospects for competing with any major league). If all 12 Japanese teams survived (by overcoming financial difficulties) and the various Asian leagues got together that would be around 18 teams. This has been a really thought-provoking discussion (I hope you haven't taken it any other way as I only intend for it to be good natured) and although I'm not sure what the written and unwritten rules are on politics here, but if I may be so bold I would also speculate that one of the long-term possibilities is for the KBO and CPBL to have extended markets. Should Korea ever be reunified then the KBO's market would increase again by half (making 6 teams very possible in the long term and maybe 8 over time bringing any amalgamated Asian leagues up to 20-22 teams) and should the PRC ever democratize someday a la the Soviet Union, then the CPBL and the CBL (or whatever is around in mainland China at the time) would have a potential market of around 1 billion (which could potentially support 90 major teams....of course, if the CPBL is killed off by the NPB or MLB before...). Granted, I admit those are very big "if"s and anything like that might only happen when we are nearing 80 or have been dead for a few years, but I would be willing to wait or allow future generations that experience if I knew that the MLB and NPB could and would work towards it.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            It is a credit to the MLB that they seem to want to assist in the expansion of the sport of baseball around the world, however. as I have said in other threads, the MLB is forever expanding for its own gains.....more players for the MLB competition in USA. It does not seem to be doing it so that the game becomes a world game.

                            MLB is obviously not the governing body of world baseball, but they seem to pull a lot of the strings. They don't seem to mind interfering with another country's domestic season but won't allow players from other countries play for their country if it interferes with their season. Yes I know MLB is a business and those players are contracted....I have been beaten up on that argument before.....but there really needs to be some give and take. At the moment it is all take.

                            IBAF has held world cups for a number of years but without much fanfare or support from MLB or its associated teams, however, they have now adopted/introduced a new competition, which they dictate regarding when it can be played so it does not interfere with their own season. The IBAF is a toothless tiger in world baseball when compared to MLB. And the MLB's so-called World Series is by far the largest and most professional baseball competition in the world. But is this the way it should be........the MLB decimating other leagues by taking all their players?

                            The other question is.....is the MLB in fact the cause of the NPB problems, or is it really an in-house problem in Japan. Is it really the fact that too many top class Japanese players are heading to Japan that is causing loss of spectator interest, or is more because it is run by companies who are using the game as an advertising tool, and probably cutting their losses through advertising tax breaks? Maybe that is the way it is meant to be in Japan??

                            From my point of view, it would be sad if the MLB got to the level that they 'ran' the NPB as part of their empire. Expansion is great, but not to that extent.

                            Interesting comment from ShawnC that the article is from a UK publication....the country that has decided that baseball is not good enough to be included as an Olympic sport in 2012.
                            Last edited by DownUnderDodger; 04-07-2008, 05:54 AM.
                            "A hot dog at the ballgame beats roast beef at the Ritz." ~Humphrey Bogart

                            No matter how good you are, you're going to lose one-third of your games. No matter how bad you are you're going to win one-third of your games. It's the other third that makes the difference. ~Tommy Lasorda

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by DownUnderDodger View Post
                              The other question is.....is the MLB in fact the cause of the NPB problems, or is it really an in-house problem in Japan. Is it really the fact that too many top class Japanese players are heading to Japan that is causing loss of spectator interest, or is more because it is run by companies who are using the game as an advertising tool, and probably cutting their losses through advertising tax breaks? Maybe that is the way it is meant to be in Japan??

                              From my point of view, it would be sad if the MLB got to the level that they 'ran' the NPB as part of their empire. Expansion is great, but not to that extent.

                              Interesting comment from ShawnC that the article is from a UK publication....the country that has decided that baseball is not good enough to be included as an Olympic sport in 2012.
                              I seriously doubt that MLB is causing NPB any problems directly. When the Seibu Lions get $51 million just for the negotiating rights for Daisuke Matsuzaka, I don't think there is much to complain about. As for being an advertising gimmick... I can think of one case where that happened, but I don't feel like looking it up.

                              The UK didn't decide that; Jacques Rogge, president of the IOC, did. He said that baseball and softball, the other casuality, are "too American". That's BS. The reason that baseball is going away is because the TV cameras stayed away in Athens when the United States didn't make the tournament due to a freak loss. Softball was just associated with it.
                              46 wins to match last year's total

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