Japanese baseball vs. MLB, things get ugly

Japanese baseball vs. MLB, things get ugly

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The other day we blogged about the MLB’s opening day between the Red Sox and the Athletics in Japan. We also linked to an article in which Chiba Lotte Marines manager Bobby Valentine called the timing of the game “ludicrous.”

It turns out he wasn’t the only one ticked off by the MLB’s presence in Japan. In this Time magazine article by Robert Whiting, an esteemed author of Japanese culture, the glaring differences between the MLB and the NPB are on full display.

Whiting outlines how what once was an act of blasphemy – defecting to the MLB – has weakened the NPB considerably. But that’s not the only problem with the NPB. Unlike the major league, which operates under an anti-trust exemption, Japanese teams are at an inherent disadvantage: They have to pay massive amounts of money to play in their home stadiums, instead of having them built with tax payers’ money like in the States. And unlike the MLB, which generates large sums of money through merchandise, NPB teams primarily operate to generate advertising money for the parent companies of each squad.

According to Whiting, that gap between the two leagues makes it even easier for the MLB to continue to poach prized Japanese baseball prospects.

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And speaking of those prized players, this article in the Washington Post, by Blaine Harden provides insight on how Japanese advertisers are capitalizing on the success of the “Big Three” in the major league: Daisuke Matsuzaka, Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui.

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In other related, but less gloomy, news coming from the Salem News, Jim McAllister delves back into the history archives and writes about the long relationship between Japan and Salem, MA. Something that history – and baseball – buffs might find interesting. Who knew opening day in Japan actually had such a historical basis?

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And, if you haven’t already done so, be sure to pick up the new issue of the Hawaii Herald, which features a lengthy article on Benny Agbayani and his exploits in Japan.

Vol. 29, No. 6 March 21, 2008

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