Can the MLB expand into Asia?

Can the MLB expand into Asia?

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When it comes to professional baseball, the talent gap between Major League Baseball and Asia is slowly shrinking. Japan won the inaugural World Baseball Classic while Asian players from several different countries are currently starring in America. Chiba Lotte Marines manager Bobby Valentine even proposed a seven-game series between the World Series champions and the Japan Series champion to be played in Hawaii.

While many people dismissed Valentine’s proposal initially, his idea is not too far fetched. Jim Allen from The Daily Yomiuri presents two interesting scenarios in this article. One of them would be for the major league to set up a third league in Asia which never would come over to America except for the playoffs and World Series.

The second scenario would involve a new MLB Asian League, most likely made up of eight or so teams, that would regularly travel across the Pacific to play American and National League teams and vice versa. That move would be revolutionary on many fronts. First, it would be the first major expansion since the League’s westward movement to California in the 1950s – a move which even caused one player to retire due to air travel. Second, it would involve a huge amount of coordination to make sure that only one Asian team is playing in the US to maximize their visibility, at least initially. And, of course, MLB teams traveling on a long road trip through Asia would have to be highly organized as well. Lastly, there is the issue of stadiums. In American pro sports, the taxpayers pay the bill, usually when a team’s owners threaten to leave the city if a new stadium is not built. In cases like the Seattle Sonics’ things can sometimes get messy. In Asia, where the stadiums are not nearly as glamorous, that’s not nearly the case.

Says Allen:

That explains why most American teams don’t pay fair market rent for their state-of-the-art stadiums–but still take in amazing profits. Because Asian owners don’t blackmail local governments, they have to spend their own money on stadium upgrades, while major league owners turn extortion swag into higher payrolls that Asian clubs can’t match.

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