Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Minor Update...

Just wanted to apologize for the lack of update. I've been busy dealing with my admissions for nursing school. Anyway, I've recently contacted Johnny Jiang Han Zhi, who’s a former player and an umpire working for IBAF in China. Once he’s done umpiring all the college games, he will give me a Q&A about himself and the state of baseball in China. Yep, I couldn't believe I've gotten an answer either, but he told me “no matter what a person’s profession is, as long as baseball is their passion, I’m willing to help in any way that is part of the game.” So touching! I’ll just leave some pictures here, courtesy of JohnnyBaseball.

From Johnny's Weibo

Sunday, July 20, 2014

China Baseball League Postponed....Again

China Baseball League, which was supposed to start July 18th, has been postponed for the second time this year. According to the official China Baseball Association website, there was a breach of contract between the United World Sports Development Co. and the league. They are basically saying “Baseball isn’t a priority, so we’ll take our time.” The initial launch date was May 9th, but the venues weren’t reviewed or audited for official use. While there are no professional baseball being played, the players have been training with college teams to keep in shape.  The team from Tianjin will head to Taiwan next month to participate in some friendly matches. Until then, let’s hope there will finally be some good news in the near future!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Father of Chinese Baseball, Panda Cup...

I just put up a banner for my blog. Do you rike it?

Let me give a brief introduction to the father of Chinese baseball, Mr. Liang Fu Chu 梁扶初.

(He's on the right, the grumpiest one)

Liang (1891-1968), who was born in Xiangshan(Zhongshan), Guangdong Province, was considered a major contributor in helping develop baseball in China. He fell in love with baseball when he attended and played first base at Meiji University in Japan. He graduated in 1932 and returned to China with one thing in mind: promote the living hell out of baseball. He would go on to Shanghai and form the Panda Baseball Club. In 1934, The U.S. all-star team, which was on tour in Japan, made a stop in Shanghai and faced Liang’s Panda club. After the Chinese Civil War, Liang did not stop continuing to promote baseball. He published his own baseball guide in 1949 called “棒壘球指南”.

(Translation: Baseball Guide...)

Baseball was thriving in China and became a popular sport for the People’s Liberation Army. Sadly, it did not last. Baseball was banned during the Cultural Revolution and it did not return until mid-1970s. Liang passed away in 1968, but his four sons continued their father’s passion in promoting baseball in China.

With that said, I was inspired to write about Liang because of the National Youth and Junior Baseball Panda Cup being played in Zhongshan right now. Baseball has developed quite a following in this city. In 2006, baseball programs were opened in a local high school (东升镇高级中学) and has become quite popular for the students. Recently, three young players from Panda baseball and softball clubs had been chosen to attend MLB’s development center and will receive a six year scholarship in the program.

I believe that knowing history is an important step in cultivating baseball in China. That way people can connect and develop a culture for the ball game. Coaches and managers should inspire players and say “Hey, we aren’t just playing an American pastime. We’re playing our game and we can beat Taiwan!” I’m very optimistic that MLB will find a legitimate prospect one day, but I’m more enthusiastic about amateur clubs in China trying to recruit players just like what Liang (and other contributors that I didn't mention) did back in days. Anyway, thanks for reading. Baseball rules!

Here are some links I found this week, which includes some of the stuff I researched about Liang Fu Chu:
News about Panda Cup and the city.
Ye Liang's thesis on MLB China(pretty good)
Chinese blog about history of baseball in China

Friday, July 11, 2014

CBL, MLB Development, Prospects…

What’s happening in the China Baseball League and China Baseball Association?

(old logo 2002-2011)

Let’s talk a bit about the Chinese Baseball League (not to be confused with Chinese Professional Baseball League in Taiwan). It was launched in 2002 with four teams and then expanded to seven by 2009. The league was doing decent until the Olympic committee decided to cut baseball after 2008. The league then lost their sponsorship from Japan and funding from the government. Even after upsetting Taiwan in the Olympics and 2009 World Baseball Classic, the league didn't gain any popularity. The league eventually folded after 2011 because no one cared.

However, things are starting to look a little better this year. Rawlings, an American sports equipment company had recently signed a six-year sponsorship with the CBA hoping to improve the level of play in China. The Chinese national team even made a trip to St. Louis to visit the headquarters of Rawlings and to meet with the home team Cardinals.

Also, there has been talks about re-launching the league this year (Yay!). You can read about it here (In Chinese):

It was supposed to start around May, but delayed due to the FIFA world cup. It is set to start on July 18 with four teams up until mid-October. Hopefully the league can gain some following and develop a competitive level of play with the Taiwan league.

Lastly, it is rumored that China will compete in this year’s Asia Series, so that’s something to look forward to!

What has MLB been doing in China?

MLB has been doing a lot in China since early 2000s. A lot of the credit goes to Leon Xie who is the managing director of MLB China. They held two exhibition games in Beijing between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres prior to the Bejing 2008 Olympics. Sadly, the stadium no longer exist and was renovated into other complexes. MLB has also opened a few baseball academies, one being in Wuxi of Jiangsu Province. Kansas City Royals RHP recently visited China as part of the ambassador tour at the end of 2013. A baseball development center in Nanjing was recently opened earlier this year.

They also have a program called “Play Ball!” which is aimed to attract children from elementary school and recently started a reality show called “Perfect Pitch” to find talent in China. I haven’t seen an episode yet, but it’s not similar to Million Dollar Arm from India, it’s more of a MLB travel tour where people can participate in challenges.

Are there currently any prospects from China?

(Image Credit: Newsday.com, 2007)

None. There have been a total of five(I think) players signed by MLB form China. Only one has played any games in the minors. They were never really considered prospects, just a sign of friendship with China. Here are the list of the players:

Wang Chao 王超 – Right Handed Pitcher – He was one of the first player signed from China by the Seattle Mariners in 2001. He played two years in Rookie league, but was completely over matched. He was let go in 2003, and played a few games in WBC as an outfielder.

Zhang Zeng Wang 张振旺 – Catcher 
 Signed by the New York Yankees in 2007. Never appeared in the minors, but played some games in WBC.

Liu Kai 刘恺 – Left Handed Pitcher – Also signed by the Yankees in 2007. Never appeared in the minors, but played in WBC. Did not do so well.

Wang Wei 王伟 – Catcher – Signed by the Seattle Mariners in 2007. He actually played in the 2008 Olympic game where he was involved in a horrible collision at home plate against team USA. 
He also never appeared in any game in the minors. He was in his late 20s when he was signed.

Yu Bing Jia - 賈昱冰 – Outfielder – Also signed by the Mariners in 2007. Didn't appear in any minor league games as well, but did play in WBC last year.

Although Raymond Chang 张宝树 is American born, he’s been playing in the minors for ten years. Let’s hope he can make it up to the show before he gets too old! 加油!

Maybe within the two years a sixteen year old prospect will be highly touted, but there is still a lot of development to be done especially facilities where more children can play and practice. Anyway, when the league starts, I will try and update about it! Thanks for reading!

Here are also some links I found about baseball in China: