Sunday, January 28, 2007

MLB, Inc. in China: It was Peter O'Malley who opened the doors--AZ. Republic

Joseph Reaves of the Arizona Republic relates the truth about baseball in Communist China, as opposed to the smug, surface blurb given by the NY Times last week. Reaves may not've realized whose side the Times was on in quoting parts of its report (it's always the Yankee-hating side, the haze of "rich guys getting it done").
  • Reaves quotes the recent Times article about Yankee management visiting China and Japan and is hesitant to believe the international cloak of greatness seemingly implied in the NY Times article. In putting the trip in a more correct context (for which I'm grateful), he calms the fires lit by the Times.
  • He may not know the Times isn't looking to build the Yankees up, it's putting forth its usual boilerplate--opening an article dripping with key words and phrases meant to evoke hatred, not helpful with what should be explained in such articles. Reaves begins:
"Judging from the stories in the New York Times last week, you'd think the Yankees discovered China - and they were heading there to bring back the treasures of the Orient.
  • "The Chinese are shouting in China today because the Yankees are heading there in their latest international exploration," the Times wrote. "Vasco da Gama and Magellan had nothing on them."
  • (Translation: The Yankees are ruthless, greedy imperialists. They CAN do this kind of thing while other teams (sob) just CAN'T.
  • Reality: The Yankees should not be wasting their valuable time and energy as errand boys for Allan H. "Bud" Selig, Inc., who already has an office in Beijing. The huge profits given by fans to Bud, Inc. are being used to sell goods in a communist country with slave labor, child labor, poor sanitation and environmental standards, etc.
    • The Yankees have other things they should be doing with their time, #1 being overhaul of the YES Network.
Back to the Times: "Marco Polo might have beaten them to China, but he didn't go home with a shortstop to replace (Derek) Jeter." (Translation: The writer can't get readers unless he makes derisive, snide comments about the Yankees. I've seen no evidence Chass can write an article without inspiring hate and envy against individual Yankee players.) Reaves, again: "Neither will the Yankees, nor anyone else. Not for a long while yet." (Yes, clearly, and you do eventually get this from the Times, but by that point, you've been taught the Yankees are just bad). Reaves continues: "But that doesn't mean the Yankees are making a mistake trying to establish a presence in China. Quite the opposite. The move is long overdue. And other teams would do well to follow."
  • Reaves reveals key points in China's dealings with baseball having nothing to do with the Yankees--I'm happy about this.
"The Shanghai Base Ball Club was up and running in 1863, a decade before the game made it to Japan. In 1881, the Imperial Court of the Qing Dynasty summoned home a group of elite Chinese students who had gone to the United States to study because the boys had fallen in love with baseball and were becoming too Americanized.
  • During the years between World Wars I and II, Babe Ruth, Casey Stengel, Waite Hoyt and dozens of other stars wrapped up their tours of Japan by traveling to China to play the all-Chinese Shanghai Pandas.
Units of the Communist People's Liberation Army were encouraged to play "army ball" during their Long March because their commanders believed throwing a baseball helped teach soldiers to better hurl grenades.
  • And until the Cultural Revolution began in 1966, China held regular national baseball tournaments featuring 30 or more teams.
But truth be told, baseball was about as popular in China as table tennis is in the United States." Reaves says this will change, but falls back on the huge population, bundles of cash, & the (gag) anticipated exposure of the 2008 Olympics there. "Baseball never will become a national obsession in China. But the sheer size of China's 1.3 billion population, the stunning economic growth and the upcoming exposure baseball will get in the 2008 Beijing Olympics offer opportunities that can't be missed." NOW, REAVES SAYS BUD SELIG ALREADY HAS AN OFFICE IN BEIJING AND IS "TOYING" WITH SENDING YOUR PLAYERS HALF WAY AROUND THE WORLD TO OPEN THE 2008 SEASON.
"Major League Baseball recently opened an office in Beijing, and Commissioner Bud Selig has said he is toying with the idea of opening the 2008 season in China if the Olympic baseball stadium is completed in time."
"The Yankees are sending four of their top executives - President Randy Levine, General Manager Brian Cashman and assistant GM Jean Afterman, and Michael Tusiani, their corporate sales and sponsorships expert - to China next week. Their long-term goals are to expand the Yankees brand, set up a training academy and begin grooming the Yao Ming of baseball. It can happen." Fine, but now the reality. Reaves:
  • "The Yankees aren't visionaries. Longtime Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley was baseball's pioneer in China."
  • I know this because Kevin Kennedy talked about it on XM. He also mentioned Chinese athletes being humiliated by their coaches and having meals withheld as punishment for less than perfect performance. (Kennedy said this in a surprisingly detached manner).
"In the mid-1980s, just as China was opening to the outside world, O'Malley helped build the first practice field in Beijing and paid for construction of a baseball stadium in the port city of Tianjin, 75 miles southeast of the capital.
  • Dodger Stadium - as it still is called today - is home of the Tianjin Lions of the Chinese Baseball League, a Japanese-sponsored professional league founded in 2002. That league could be fertile ground for MLB's future in China."
    • ***So the fertile ground in China is actually a Japanese team!!!
"The Chinese government has invested heavily in baseball in recent years, partnering with MLB to hire Valley residents Jim Lefebvre and Bruce Hurst to groom the Chinese National Team for the 2008 Olympics." (How these 2 individuals are actually functioning over there with fans' money is a question. Neither Communist China nor MLB, Inc. are forthcoming with provable facts).
  • "It might even go a long way to fulfilling the prophesy of Roger B. Doulens, a major working with the U.S. Special Services trying to help Chiang Kai-Shek's Nationalists hold off Mao Zedong's Communists during China's civil war.
In a letter to the Sporting News that ran in March 1946 under the headline: "Chinese Grabbing Chance to Learn Game," Doulens wrote:
  • "It is not beyond the realm of reason that the Sporting News will announce, some time in 1955: Lao Yi-Ping, sensational shortstop of the Shanghai Spartans of the Yellow River League was sold to the New York Giants for 500,000 Chinese dollars, the Chinese National Baseball Federation announced."
"That never happened. By 1955, the Giants were entering their final years in New York and Chinese dollars disappeared with the coming of a Communist regime.
  • But maybe Doulens was on to something." I'm grateful to Reaves for eschewing sensationalism and CHEAP EMOTIONAL PLOYS TO BAIT READERS like the Times does. Reaves actually gave me a much more interesting and factual story.
Article by Joseph A. Reaves, Arizona Republic, 1/28/07, "China Offers Market Loaded with Potential."

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