Sunday, November 16, 2014

History of China Baseball, Why MLB isn't popular in China yet...

Not much going on in China baseball recently, but a lot of other stuff....

Taiwan has been whooping mules in the under 21 Baseball World Cup, and MLB got no hitted by Japan in the All-Star Series. Oh yeah, and Robinson Cano has a fractured pinky toe. Anyways...

I recently found an interesting academic journal about Chinese baseball history called
"Bangqiu: MLB's Role in Baseball's Comeback in the People's Republic of China." It was written by Dr. Sean Mclaughlin from University of Wisconsin and Dr. Jie Gao of Carroll University. I'm not sure if anyone can view it without account or anything, but you can access it through public library or from a university (sorry about that!). If you like, I previously wrote a short history of baseball in China, which you can read here.

Anyway, just a couple of interesting things I like to point out about the journal. During the Nixon era, the administration didn't choose to promote baseball in China for improving diplomatic ties. What a bummer! Think about all the "What ifs?" in China baseball today. Also, around 4 million people are playing baseball in China today. That's an impressive number compared to 20 years ago (300 million playing basketball, just saying!). Still a lot of work to do, but progress is progress, right?!

Which brings me to the point, do people give MLB way too much credit for something that hasn't happened yet in China? If you Google about China baseball, almost every article writes about how baseball is on a rise in China, which isn't really true...Let me point out some things MLB hasn't done yet (Just my personal dumb opinion, no facts to back me up). 

Most important thing MLB hasn't established yet is attractiveness. What makes baseball better than basketball and soccer? They are both so easy to play and it only requires one ball. While in baseball, there are confusing rules, need 18 players in the field, and it requires lots of equipment. So far, they are only busy trying to find baseball's Yao Ming, which might magically make baseball popular. 

Second thing is understanding the demographics. I appreciate all the Play Ball and MLB College Club programs they've started in big cities, but it doesn't automatically mean it'll be more popular than rural areas. If you look at Dominican Republic, kids want to get out of poverty by becoming baseball stars. Maybe they should invest in rural areas and give hope to kids living in poverty. 

Third thing is connecting with the community. How can MLB integrate the game of baseball in people's lives?  In the US, they help fund cancer research here, and donate to charities. If you want to be part of the community, maybe they can help provide school supplies to kids who need it in China, or open a charity organization to help families. 

They are just random possibilities I thought of with no research, I also don't have a complete understanding of the culture in Mainland China. I was born here, so there's that...If you must criticize, please hand it to me!

Before I go, I just want to tell you why I love baseball. If you ever seen Ken Burn's Baseball, you'll see why its truly the people's game. In basketball or soccer, only the most athletic players make the team. In baseball, many players are flawed, but they overcome them. You can be the slowest runner, but the best hitter. You have the weakest arm, but can make incredible catches. You strikeout a lot, but you can hit the big one when it counts the most! What I'm trying to say is, all the aspect of a player can be related to a common person's life. We make mistakes, we do dumb things, and we're not perfect, but we make up for it by showing our strengths. Besides that, I also love statistics, but that's nerdy stuff. Anyway, thanks for reading and have a great night!

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