Expanding on earlier reports, the Associated Press reported on Friday that Major League Baseball plans to open an office in China “within a month” and they’d like to have the regular season opener played in Beijing by 2008. Baseball’s bobble heads are gonzo about the sport’s potential “in a nation that has a population of more than 1.3 billion.” The subhead for the first story linked to above says the “search for baseball’s Yao Ming is on.” (We’ve heard that before.) Back in 2004, an observer of Chinese baseball told us China was 10 to 15 years behind most other countries when it came to baseball. And this paragraph from the AP story would make it seem like that isn’t going to change anytime soon:
The International Olympic Committee last year voted to remove baseball and softball from the 2012 London Olympics, but both sports will be played at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. That year could be a possible target date for a season opener in China.
Somehow we missed that news when it happened. But it makes us wonder if China will be willing to continue to invest in baseball after 2008. China’s pro baseball league appears to be in a little trouble, as well, PR-wise, at least. Tom McCarthy, the American who helped found the league, cut ties with China Baseball League before teh 2006 season (we’re still not exactly sure why). Since then, journalists who have covered the league in the past haven’t heard a word from the CBL. And the the league website hasn’t been updated since March.
Maybe Major League Baseball can do something about that?