Open Tech Today - Top Stories

Monday, June 18, 2007

China's Newest Export: Baseball Players

It was bound to happen one day. A Major League Baseball team signs a player from China. That day is today, and that team is the New York Yankees, who signed not one but two young Chinese baseball players, with approval from the China Baseball Association.

This deal, however, falls more into the Dominican Republic category than the Japan or Korea category. What do I mean? This is not about signing talented players, often late in their careers as happens in Japan. This is about the long-term development of baseball in China, players and fans. Under the deal, Chinese teams will gain access to Yankee training facilities in New York and Florida. There will also be an exchange of coaches and trainers.

Will China become the next Venezuela of baseball? Is the baseball version of Yao Ming out there waiting to be signed? Nobody knows. But the New York Yankees are investing in that possibility. It's smart baseball and good business for the MLB and the Yankees brand.

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