Impact of the Globalization of Baseball

The reason why I chose this topic is because when it comes to international trade, baseball has an important influence on how some countries export talent to bring in more money. Baseball is known as America’s national past time, however during about the past generation, especially from the 1980’s to the present, the world has experienced fundamental changes, and globalization has emerged as one of the foremost discourses. The global development of sport has also accelerated from the 1980’s; for example, one can find the flows from country to country of sporting goods, equipment and landscapes that have grown such as the development of the media-sport production complex and project images to global audiences.

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The migration dimension involves the international movement of people such as tourists, exiles and guest workers; in the sports arena, the global migration of sports personnel, such as coaches, players, etc. has been a pronounced and established feature of the sporting ‘global village’ in recent decades.

For instance, the movement of player migration occurs in some sports, such as professional baseball, between North America, Latin America, and East Asia. The economic dimension has been obviously concerned on the rapid flow of money and its equivalents around the world. It is evident that the flow of finance in the global sports arena has come to focus on the international trade in personnel, prize money and endorsements, and the marketing of sport along specific lines. Another factor that must be considered is the media dimension, it entails the flow between countries of information and images that are produced and distributed by newspapers, magazines, radio, television, and the World Wide Web.

The sport-related media continuously ‘broadcasts’ images of sports to large global audiences. For example, consider worldwide audiences for the World Baseball Classic in 2006. Another example of worldwide exposure would be younger baseball players who are in their early stage of baseball; during in the summer they also televise the Little League World Series. This is where the talent from different countries get their first chance to show the world how good they are. The U.S. is a central part of the global system, the most striking example of transnational power of sports organization is Major League Baseball. Players from outside the United States are defined as guest workers in this system; In the MLB, many players are recruited from Latin American countries, such as the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela. Since the turn of the century there has been more of an influx of Asian players that have been a part of the North American professional baseball market and as a result of that baseball business is booming in Asia as a rapidly-swelling band of fans follow the exploits of home-grown players on the other side of the Pacific.

The growing prominence of foreign born baseball players in MLB appears not only in the performances of foreign superstars such as Sammy Sosa, but also in overall number of foreign players on MLB rosters. By 2005, 242 overseas players, which occupied 29.2% of 829 Major League players, were feature from 15 countries together with Puerto Rico and the Virgin Island. The Dominican Republic leads all countries with 91 players; Venezuela is second with 46, Puerto Rico is the third with 34. As for the Asian countries Japan leads with 21 players, South Korea has 9, and Taiwan has 3. The business of Major League Baseball continues to grow at an extraordinary pace through the expansion of their digital of their digital streaming infrastructure efforts. MLB Advanced Media spin-off BAMTech and Discovery Communications, have reached a long term-term partnership; that gives them access to select European sports rights from worldwide sports properties.

While both MLBAM and Discovery Communications would not reveal the financial details, it does not alter the current ownership stake for BAMTech; currently MLB Advanced Media has a 58% stake. One thing is certain; MLB’s owners will be reaping the long term benefits as the media landscape is on the verge of a substantial shift. According to MLBAM, in the 14 years of its existence, they and the spin-offs currently are serving 7.5 million total global subscribers with its U.S. based clients’ OTT products. So moving into the European market seems like the next logical step. Their main goal obviously is to bring in more revenue, but I also feel like they want to promote the game of baseball to a bigger global market. The new-found revenues will give baseball’s owners continued cost certainty outside of how well their respective teams perform in the standings, which drive revenues at the gate, via local media contracts, and sponsorships. They have become a growing centralized revenue source that no other sports league has as an advantage. Major League Baseball saw gross revenue increase by $500 million last year, and was quickly approaching $9.5 billion.

In late December they should be at, exceed $10 billion. In 2017, the World Baseball Classic took center stage, Major League Baseball wanted to draw in a big number of audience to watch the tournament, so they invited different countries from all around the world to participate in the tournament. These teams included teams from Europe, the Middle East, Asia and South America, some countries that might not fully grasp the concept and understanding of how the game is played. The main reasoning behind this is that they want more countries to be exposed to the game of baseball and attract more talent for the game to be more diversified. America’s pastime has long had a footprint in countries like Japan, Cuba and Mexico; with the WBC they wanted to showcase the talents from other parts of the world. Typically, the WBC was always played in the United States with just the American player, and Caribbean players and the Latin American players; however that years they had some games played in Seoul, South Korea, and Tokyo, Japan here in the U.S. they move around also from Los Angeles, and San Diego to Miami.

Major League Baseball’s overall objective internationally is to be the most constructive and meaningful part of cultural life that we can around the world. But that starts with understanding what localized cultural life actually is, and the WBC has served as a sort of fact-finding mission for MLB, allowing the league to learn more about fans and sports culture overseas. The World Baseball Classic was made up of teams from; Canada, China, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, Mexico, Venezuela, and the United States in the fourth WBC in tournament history. A couple of first timers Columbia and Israel made it into the tournament as well. When you have such diverse groups of people all working for one common goal it can be a wonderful experience from those countries that really don’t get the full exposure to showcase their skills, and it is also nice to know that people back in each teams home countries watch and support the own countrymen to do good things and show teamwork and unity between the nations. Personally, in my view, one of the many reasons why I fell in love with this game is that it showed me that no matter what background you have or where you came from none of that matters; because there is only one common goal that is shared by everybody on that team and it is to go as far as possible to have a chance to win the championship.

The game of baseball shows that there is not one individual that can win the game by themselves; there are nine individuals the field that has to work together as one unit to accomplish their goal of winning. The game can only create life long bond and friendship that can be forever. Baseball is changing from the days when the game was barely being played, with more migration and the influx of international talent coming into the spotlight, baseball is slowly fading away from being America’s pastime, the popularity and desire for the domestic players is faded away, the desire to bring in new fresh talent is at a demand right now. With high demands for foreign born players, the Dominican Republic from the Caribbean, and Japan from East Asia are the country’s leading the push for more foreign players. For example in the Dominican Republic, baseball is such a predominant sport that the government along with some help from some major leaguers from that country see how the hard work can make a difference in their economy; they have collaborated together to build academic facilities for young people to try-out and work on sharping their skills. On average the youngest Dominican child that is looked at on the streets is about 8 years old that means that from the time that he is scouted at 8 years old unless the age of 15 or 16 they are in these facilities training and bettering their craft. Due to the fact that they are force to quit school and focus only on baseball means that they only have one shot to make it big time in the Major Leagues.

In the Dominican Republic 4 out of 10 children at living at or below poverty, so these kids have to find something to do to generate some income, some go to school, others are out in the streets, and another handful are busy training for their shot at the big time. Many of the kids that go to school, only finish going to middle school, and then they enter the workforce, those who when into the practice facilities, the percentage of these people coming out and making it big time is only 2% of all the children that entered the program. So with them dedicating their whole youth to the developmental system the children never went to school and they don’t have any proper education, so they return to poverty. However, those that do end up making the cut they go on and do big things in baseball, most of them come back home to the island after the season is over; on average from all the Dominican born players major league and minor league salaries combined the island racks up about $400 million annually. Some people when they return home from playing baseball for five or six months, they help fund a foundation or an organization to help out there country, some even help build schools, hospitals, etc.

The influence is baseball is so high in the Dominican Republic that each of the 30 Major League teams has a training facility in different parts of the island. At the of the regular season some of the players find a spot of different teams from the Caribbean, Mexico or Latin America and play some pick up winter league baseball; some do this to help improve their skills for the start of next season, others do it to not lose the feel the game. In the DR, it is a business that puts thousands of Dominicans to work as they train local prospects as well as Venezuelans, Panamanians, Nicaraguans, Mexican, and Cuban who have escaped the communist regime. All of these countries have seen some benefit from baseball as stars send home back home, but only Dominicans have taken advantage of this opportunity and created a baseball infrastructure. Another country that used to be able to help develop their own home grown player was Venezuela, but political unrest under the country’s socialist government and a growing crime wave have sent major league teams fleeing. This year, a summer league comprising U.S- sponsored teams collapsed, canceling the entire schedule.

MLB itself estimates that teams spend about $125 million a year on baseball academies just in the DR; It’s easy to get to a half-million dollars that baseball is bringing to the island, an MLB official Ruck said. The spending has not come without controversy, as is often the case with U.S. investments in developing countries, allegations of exploitation; doping and other abuses have dogged the U.S.-run academies. Still enduring, however, are charges the teams have exploited desperately poor youngster from the Dominican Republic and elsewhere by encouraging thousand to quit and chase baseball, Ruck says. Conditions at academies have improved markedly in recent years, says Ruck. Most are more or less state-of-the-art facilities that now emphasizes proper nutrition and provides good living quarters, he says. Another country with strong ties to the development of the game of baseball is Japan; although being outnumbered by the baseball crazy corners of the Caribbean and Latin America the Japanese player have stood their ground in MLB. This was evident during the 2017 World Baseball Classic when they finished with a bronze medal, in a competition where they were supposed to finish in the middle of the middle of pack; in that tournament there were sixteen teams, and out of those sixteen to finish in third behind notorious powerhouse nations like the D.R. and the U.S. that was pretty impressive.

The Japanese level of play is so high that some of the players who want to work on their mechanics of pitching or hitting go to Japan to their careers back on track. American players were needed in the years following WWII to raise the level of baseball in Japan from the level of zero that it sunk to. Baseball was introduced into Japan in 1873 by an American teacher in Tokyo, Horace Wilson, and the game caught on very quickly through much of the island nation. At first, the Japanese had difficulty in understanding the rules of the game-and-in that regard Baron Hiroshi Hiraoka in 1877 traveled to the United States and brought back to Japan a translation of the standard baseball rules. During the past century, the Japanese have generally been really receptive to suggestion from American in working on the game’s finer points; but on occasion they’ll revert to their own practices. When the American players would go on tours to spread awareness and promote the game of baseball in Japan, that give some Japanese businessmen and sports people an ideas to begin to create they own professional league, they were thinking that if they ever had to American teams in a competitive game of baseball they would be good enough at least put up a good fight against good quality teams.

The Japanese began the league with an eight team annual tournament that began back in December 26, 1934; at the beginning of the 1950’s professional baseball in Japan really took off and getting major recognition. This was caused due to American players being invited to sign with teams from both the Pacific and Central leagues, the teams were allowed to have two foreigners on its roster, and most of the teams in the league except for one team usually fill their quota. Within the last 25 years there have at least been 100 Americans have either played or coached in Japan and their presence has been significant, because they were vital to the development and structure of the quality of baseball in Japan. One reason why there is not as many Asian- born players in the Major League Baseball is because they like to keep their players domestic just to help make baseball popular within the continent itself; over the years there has been a booming number of fans and people watching the game on television, or listening to it on the radio. All Asian countries are slowly gaining recognition of the talent that has been untapped to its fullest potential. There are some players that are getting permission to come to United States, but those are players who have excelled past their potential and need to be exposed to the rest of the world to showcase their skills and talents.

In recent years, some of the major Japanese imports to the United States have been Yu Darvish and Shohei Ohtani, they were both in their early twenties; and the older imports from Japan are players like Hideki Matsui, Ichiro Suzuki, and Daisuke Matsuzaka. Most of the Japanese players who come into the United Stated are pitchers, in Japan’s culture the best player on the team the is pitcher, most of the youth in Japan today who play baseball want to be pitchers. The exposure to the game of baseball in the Asian countries is huge now in today’s modern baseball, with more children getting the opportunity to start getting a feel for the baseball at a young age; they are able to learn about the game and improve their skills and techniques at a young age to become the best player possible for the future. Major League Baseball has gained global interest from different parts of the world, and they are starting to become more globalization in parts of the world that were once dominated by other sports, such as, football (soccer), in Brazil, Germany, and other European countries, right now it is a slow process but they feel that with time baseball will become more of a worldwide sport.

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