independent payday loan lenders uk singapore credit card merchant charges poor credit loans credit card balance transfer fee calculator halifax credit card address ppi hdfc credit card bank chennai chase freedom virtual credit card credit cards for poor credit history uk how do i calculate my credit card interest rate credit card types uk compare business credit cards best reward credit cards for travel hsbc credit card payment machine sbi credit card application form online pay wells fargo student loan with credit card free fico score no credit card using nationwide credit card abroad android credit card reader paypal black credit card visa limits free gold card hostelworld how to get credit cards paid off fast platinum card american express airport lounge bdo credit card application form online no fee credit card india wells fargo health advantage credit card payment air canada credit card aeroplan fast payday loans 24/7 balance transfer barclaycard to halifax credit cards no income students website to pay shell credit card mastercard credit card for bad credit discover virtual credit card number best credit cards uk rewards how to get a credit card with no credit yahoo answers orchard bank credit card reviews 2011 canadian credit cards with airmiles online credit card best bad credit cards unsecured low interest rate credit cards uk credit cards bad credit instant approval no deposit unsecured get a credit card with a 650 credit score fake credit card numbers for itunes united airline credit card promotions cash back no annual fee credit cards credit card uk call centre how to find standard chartered credit card status same day payday loans direct lenders how do criminals get credit card numbers credit card number validator c# credit cards instant approval online real payday loan lenders small online loans in sa mastercard credit cards credit card authorisation form australian embassy small business credit card white hills cash payday loans number valid fake credit card numbers and security codes hdfc credit card bill payment options best 0 credit cards 2012 best business credit card offers 2013 compare hdfc gold and titanium credit cards prepaid credit cards to help rebuild credit fee free balance transfer credit card how to increase credit card limit sbi unsecured credit cards bad credit canada best buy master credit card visa bad credit cards victoria secret credit card payment my next payday advance mastercard credit card foreign exchange rates do i need a credit card for paypal to receive money personal loans online bad credit does applying for multiple credit cards affect your credit score business mastercard credit card application 0 fee balance transfer credit cards no fee td visa card insurance best credit card offer september 2013 credit card to rebuild credit chase mobile credit card terminal rental best buy credit cards review how do you get a starbucks gold card apple credit card barclays which credit card is best for international students do i need a credit card to rebuild my credit usaa cash rewards credit card review credit card business analyst linkedin walmart credit cards online application hsbc credit card apply eligibility virgin credit card transfer balance help paying off credit card debt government help staples credit card business login prepaid credit cards uk post office new credit card company uk bad credit loans guaranteed approval $5000 rewards credit card with no foreign transaction fee how to negotiate with credit card companies 2010 credit card processing fees tax deductible best lowest rate credit card discover credit cards fair credit cancel bank of america credit card application best visa credit cards uk instant virtual credit card online limit on black visa credit cards walmart prepaid credit card silver shell cafe credit card promotion icici credit card offers on mobiles hdfc toll free credit card number best first credit card uk 2012 what is a credit card issue number visa short term cash loans for unemployed standard chartered 5 cash back credit card does applying for a new credit card hurt my credit score anz credit card balance transfer form credit card with airmiles high limit credit cards average credit how do i setup a pin for my usaa credit card dbs credit card rewards redemption singapore visa credit card offers disney visa card holder discounts how to apply for apple id without credit card credit cards for business owners with bad credit virgin credit card phone number contact best canadian credit cards for travel points anz transfer credit card balance greenwoods personal credit gold card visa card uk customer services online loans instant decision bad credit credit card payment processing for small business online credit card fraud detection barclays credit card application platinum credit card icici bank apply for valero gas credit card prepaid credit cards no fees walmart credit card payoff calculator cnn money hsbc credit card promotions malaysia best credit card merchant services uk aircel to airtel balance transfer free credit card numbers for testing visa gold credit card canada post office visa gift card mophie marketplace credit card reader for intuit gopayment for apple iphone 4 visa prepaid credit card online purchases 18 month interest free credit card can you refinance auto loan with bad credit best buy rewards credit card make payment capfin online loan application online credit card validator javascript sbi credit card application status credit card calculator apr credit cards comparison singapore best credit card processing rates canada approved macy;s credit card review how can i pay icici credit card bill online free visa credit card details 2012 types of credit cards accepted in india no credit check credit cards uk which is the best credit card to use in canada low interest unsecured credit cards for bad credit visa credit card issuers in canada disney credit card perks at disney world o balance transfer cards what credit cards are made of metal bad credit mortgage scotland hdfc corporate credit card status best 0 credit cards usa online credit card consolidation loans credit card approval odds icici credit card payment pnc everyday rewards credit card bank of america credit card student visa small business cash advance loans new credit card charges law petrol cashback credit card malaysia bajaj finserv lending standard chartered credit card status barclays premier credit card uk apply for household credit card 0 interest rate balance transfer credit cards visa cards india how to negotiate with credit card companies to pay off balance huge credit card fraud bust in new jersey how do i get a credit card with bad or no credit maurices credit card login ge money bank credit cards phone number kickstarter iphone credit card charger texaco chevron credit card application no fee credit cards with cash back how to get a credit card without a bank account i have bad credit and need a credit card to build my credit apply for bank of america credit card phone number how long does it take to get a credit card approval payday lenders no credit check credit card with rewards australia credit card settlement process icici credit card settlement department chase credit card poor credit list of all chase credit cards bank of america credit card cashback bonus balance transfer from hdfc credit card to sbi credit card american express credit card customer service number uk how to settle credit card debt with a collection agency compare credit cards rewards canada aib visa card exchange rate small business credit card processing fees walmart discover credit card payment chase disney credit card status capital one platinum card interest rate walmart credit card a best credit card for travel benefits secured canadian credit cards for bad credit credit card loan hdfc secured business credit cards without personal guarantee credit card transaction approval rates best credit card offers fair credit bank of america credit card processing fees fake credit card numbers with security code instant cash advance online australia credit card frauds ppt best portable credit card scanner online cash advance payday loans chase increase credit limit form credit card machine hire uk discover credit card application phone number natwest gold credit card interest rate how to apply for credit card in hdfc bank online post office credit card balance transfer existing customers bad credit loans no fees upfront best joint credit card offers fast same day payday loans fast payday loans like wonga can you apply for a walmart credit card over the phone guaranteed approval credit cards for bad credit canada black card amex benefits hdfc credit card emi interest calculator going over credit limit capital one unsecured canadian credit cards for bad credit compare credit cards with travel rewards credit card review singapore chase slate credit card international fees low income credit cards canada capital one venture credit card no foreign transaction fee what is the best visa credit card to get how does applying for a credit card affect your credit score hdfc credit card loan statement tesco credit card 6 months interest free simmons first credit card account instant credit card approval for bad credit phone number for first premier credit cards credit cards for low income earners philippines how do credit card consolidation services work icici credit card online payment billdesk what is cash advance interest rate important factors when choosing a credit card dillards credit card application credit card low interest balance transfer credit card applications for poor credit canada guaranteed unsecured credit card canada best rebuild credit cards credit card payoff calculator dave ramsey amazon visa rewards card login anz low rate credit card apply paypal credit card payment 5 percent cash back+credit card+india apple square credit card reader canada best credit card app for ipad chase cash advance credit card limit which credit card is easiest to get jail time for credit card fraud uk does arco gas have a credit card hsbc credit card promotions dining best credit card deal 2012 credit card car rental insurance mastercard do company credit cards affect credit score credit card checker online software credit union credit cards australia pay my household credit card online best business cash back credit cards 2011 capital one credit card balance transfer address credit card companies with uk call centre ics credit card online abn amro credit cards uk apply online different types of icici credit card how long does it take to get a secured credit card bank of america guaranteed payday loans direct lenders only 3d secure credit card validation mastercard best credit cards usa 2013 us bank credit card processing charges target visa credit card application cash advances on credit cards credit card bad credit 1000 limit bank of america student platinum plus visa credit card interest rate best way to get a credit card in canada standard uk credit card size how to do online credit card fraud how to get a best buy credit card with no credit how to get a nandos black card ebay best online credit card payment system pay neiman marcus credit card td gold elite visa card annual fee waived what are some of the best credit cards to have best cash advances online credit card processing companies uk instant online payday loans no credit check credit card interest rate calculator online credit card settlement impact on credit score us bank credit card login corporate online apply for credit card axis bank application for credit card reissue which credit card should i get get prepaid visa card number online tesco credit card credit limit credit card limit reduced without notice best credit card for travel miles 2012 hsbc credit card settlement contact legitimate poor credit loans capital one secured credit card application status compare credit cards canada travel all credit cards in one best canadian credit cards for travel rewards pre approved vs. pre qualified credit card offers best credit cards cash back offers how to reduce my credit card debt fast if i apply for a credit card can i get it the same day balance transfer barclaycard to natwest small business credit card processing mobile hsbc neiman marcus credit card login chase visa credit card protection best department store credit cards 2012 long term bad credit loans online nedbank credit card limit increase bank of america visa reward cards hdfc credit cards payment options best department store credit cards for bad credit compare low rate credit cards black diamond credit card uk southwest airlines credit card 2 free flights new payday loan lenders 2013 how much does advance america pay icici hpcl platinum credit card benefits test credit card numbers for testing virgin balance transfer credit card minimum repayment small business credit card comparison 2013 walt disney credit card offers absa gold credit card travel insurance easiest credit card to get approved for philippines air miles credit cards for average credit unsecured credit cards bad credit no processing fee rewards credit cards 2013 jquery credit card validator emi offers on hdfc bank credit cards british airways credit card login good deals on credit card balance transfers best credit card to get with bad credit visa secured credit card review bank of america credit card offers for students low rate credit card comparison black pc mastercard credit card apply online uk online payday loans no credit check td canada trust credit card selector business credit card comparison canada best reward credit card 2011 uk what is a cash advance on a credit card mean chase marriott rewards credit card login american express student credit cards apply installment loans for bad credit with no credit check how to redeem hdfc credit card points for titanium card apply for visa debit card bank of ireland citi credit cards usa pay my toys r us credit card online random credit card number with cvv apply for chase sapphire credit card lowest fixed rate credit card interest rate best cashback credit card singapore tesco credit card online payment citibank secured credit card philippines natwest business credit card registration us airways mastercard secure login which credit card gives the best rewards in india rbs apply for credit card online store credit cards that are easy to get approved for subject united cash loans phone number how to get a credit card if you have bad credit in canada best online cash advances reviews virgin america credit card contact number what can you buy with a horizon gold credit card secured credit cards for bad credit chase what is a fake credit card number i can use sears orchard credit card login virgin atlantic credit card black or white hsbc credit cards online malaysia invalid credit card numbers for testing no foreign transaction fee credit card citibank what credit cards are under mbna hdfc credit card payment through gateway apply for mastercard visa credit card info generator national cash advance stockport new bad credit card offers application form for sbi credit card payday loans online no credit check instant approval best credit cards with rewards points long gold cardigan capital credit card application status what to look out for when applying for a credit card chase bank pre approved credit card credit building credit cards bank of america government help to pay credit card debt list of department store credit cards for bad credit my first premier credit card sign in elavon credit card processing costco credit cards no interest first year no fax easy payday loans apply icici credit card india does costco accept credit cards interest free credit cards halifax manual credit card processing machines visa card security code credit card interest charges refund calculate credit card payment with no interest how to pay my virgin credit card bill schnucks credit card fraud cash canada payday loans red deer buy gold uk credit card canada credit cards low interest can credit card companies sue you for debt how to cancel your belk credit card toys r us credit card increase limit orchard bank credit cards good credit card logos square horizon gold credit card square iphone credit card processing canada hsbc balance transfer singapore fast payday loans lenders best credit card for balance transfers uk credit card machine for iphone uk loans online with monthly payments ireland best buy credit card payment chase zero percent credit cards with no balance transfer fee payday loans on benefits no credit check visa credit card company careers visa credit card machine rental online payday advance reviews mastercard gift card pin hsbc credit card fraud protection visa credit card application for bad credit accepting credit cards over the phone with paypal real credit card numbers that work 2013 apply for a mastercard debit card merchant credit card fees hnb credit card hotel promotions credit card settlement letter india credit card search engine india annual information report credit card o2 prepaid credit card uk payday lenders no brokers travel rewards credit cards bank of america apply for free prepaid credit card first premier credit card applications loans for bad credit without guarantor prepaid visa cards wiki my barclay credit card online call gap credit card services walmart gift visa card the best secured credit cards in canada 1 hour no credit check payday loans best buy rewards master credit card credit card rewards comparison axis bank credit card offers on mobile recharge prepaid visa card uk gift calculate bank of america credit card minimum payment apply for credit card online instant decision business cash advance loans reviews value city credit card pay online premier credit card login page how to buy a house with bad credit 2013 does applying for credit cards hurt credit score post office credit card contact number from abroad best cash rewards credit card canada 2013 i have lost my barclays credit card can u get a credit card with bad credit credit card verification web service cancel credit card credit rating us airways credit card comparison how long to wait between applying for credit cards chase credit card app for android how to get a 30000 credit card limit activate capital one credit card uk compare travel points credit cards credit card number location discover 300 cash back credit card offers best cashback credit card malaysia ebay credit card offers india bank of america credit card debt settlement maximum sentence for credit card fraud best uk credit cards for rewards travel rewards credit cards best how to apply for icici credit card in india cash reward credit cards india best credit card terminal rates uk visa credit card offers for bad credit
Home Pete Toms LWIB: Recruiting Baseball Talent Globally, an Update on Minor League Attendance

Like Shoot to Thrill - An AC/DC Tribute on Facebook!

An authentic tribute of AC/DC that covers the best of the Bon Scott era and the best of Brian Johnson's material

Who's Online?

We have 476 guests online

Atom RSS

LWIB: Recruiting Baseball Talent Globally, an Update on Minor League Attendance PDF Print E-mail
User Rating: / 99
PoorBest 
Pete Toms Article Archive
Written by Pete Toms   
Tuesday, 18 August 2009 10:16

Last Week in Baseball by Pete Toms

This week in LWIB, the increasingly diverse makeup of MLB and MiLB happy with attendance to date,

MLB RECRUITING GLOBALLY

LWIB, Joel Millman detailed in the WSJ how MLB is recruiting an increasing number of minor leaguers from an increasing number of countries outside the US. The federal government aided MLB in encouraging this trend by changing work visa regulations to allow greater numbers of foreign born players entry into the US. Some argue the increased number of foreign born players is a reaction to the inflationary impact of the amateur draft. Meanwhile, MLB is expected to negotiate in the next CBA an expansion of the amateur draft into Latin America in hopes of debilitating the “buscone” culture and curbing international signing bonuses. Also on the international front, is Japan a future fertile source of players? Also, MLB is investing in player development “down under”. First from Mr. Millman:

Recent changes in U.S. immigration law and growing competition in baseball for raw talent have allowed the minor-league farm system to flourish with imported players. It has been a home run for globalization, but bad news for U.S.-born players, who suddenly have much more competition. Across the minor and major leagues, the total number of foreign-born players is growing fast, to almost 3,500 of the 8,532 players under contract this summer, from 2,964 three years ago.

AND

...Today, 19 Koreans play in the minor leagues, compared with just seven five years ago.

This summer's crop of foreign players in the minors includes baseball's first-ever pros from India, two of them on the Pittsburgh Pirates' Gulf Coast league team. That league's rosters include players from Honduras, Haiti, Russia and the Czech Republic

Eight teams have minor leaguers from Brazil, including Fábio Murakami, an outfielder for the Philadelphia Phillies' Williamsport, Pa., minor-league team, the Crosscutters. Mr. Murakami is one of several South Americans of Japanese descent in the minors, a list that includes Claudio Fukunaga and Lucas Nakandakare, both from Argentina and under contract to Tampa Bay.

AND

The surge of young foreign players into the U.S. minor leagues began in 2007, a few months after then-president and former major-league team owner George W. Bush signed the Creating Opportunities for Minor League Professionals, Entertainers and Teams Act, known as the Compete Act. It freed the farm systems of major-league teams from having to compete with all U.S. employers seeking H2B work visas for foreign employees, the supply of which usually was exhausted each year by February. Now, teams can import as many prospects as they want.

AND

The changes pose a challenge to American teens hoping to make the big leagues. Instead of signing hundreds of U.S. amateurs out of high school -- the traditional business model for stocking minor-league rosters -- teams are drafting fewer U.S. kids and signing more so-called nondraft free agents, the vast majority of them teenagers from Latin America.

This summer, major-league teams spent over $70 million signing nondraft free agents from outside the country. That is up from $54 million last year, and just under $30 million in 2006, the last year before the Compete Act.

Economics plays a huge role. U.S.-born players drafted out of high school rarely sign a contract to turn pro without a cash bonus, most in excess of $100,000. This summer, the Cubs have forked out more than $6 million in signing bonuses to 26 U.S. prospects, an average of nearly a quarter million apiece.

While some foreign players like Mr. Lee got hefty signing bonuses, the majority do not. Latin players in particular can be had for a lot less -- just $10,000 in the case of Venezuelan pitcher Eduardo Figueroa, one of Mr. Lee's teammates. Third baseman George Matheus, another Hawk from Venezuela, received $15,000 for signing.

AND

In the past, visa restrictions meant many foreign prospects were sent to play for sister teams in places like the Dominican Republic and Australia, where they tried to get enough visibility to fill a coveted visa spot. Nowadays, teams figure they can train foreign talent personally, and give youngsters a chance to learn English and assimilate with U.S.-born teammates.

Select Read More to see the rest more on recruiting players globally, as well as, an update on minor league attendance

 

The Pirates signing of two players from India this winter caused Diane M. Grassi to question MLB’s desire to recruit talent from US “inner city” communities.

 

But in spite of this feel good rags-to-riches story, it, still begs an important question: Are two college age men from northern India with no prior exposure ever to the game of baseball, including limited athletic experience, good enough to even be considered for baseball’s minor or major leagues? If that is the case, then why not consider the youth from the inner cities across America, too?

For the knock against pursuing such young men from our city streets, according to MLB’s scouts and instructors stateside, is that they have not had enough exposure to the game as youngsters, given few playing opportunities for them. The excuse heard over and over again is that by the time they reach high school it is too late for them to learn the fundamentals of baseball. But these two guys from India pass the test? Gotta wonder…

In February 2007 Ms. Grassi was similarly critical of the aforementioned “Compete Act”, arguing that the federal government was abetting MLB in abandoning African American communities as a source of playing talent in favour of cheaper talent available in Latin America.

All major league teams have academies and/or share facilities primarily in the Dominican Republic with a few remaining in Venezuela, where building has tailed off due to civil unrest. But in its latest coup, MLB has gotten an even bigger break from the federal government in a recent change in the Immigration & Nationality Act, which was hardly publicized. Amended by the U.S. Congress in 2006 and signed into law on December 22, 2006 by President George W. Bush, it is known as the “Compete Act of 2006” or the “Creating Opportunities for Minor League Professionals, Entertainers and Teams Through Legal Entry Act of 2006.”

The legislation changes the visa status of foreign-born minor league players to be able to use P-1 visas, formerly reserved only for major league players, and an upgrade from the H-2B visas, generally used by temporary foreign-born workers in numerous industries. Each team previously was limited to 26 H-2B visas per season for its minor leagues. Major leagues have no numerical limitations with the P-1 visa, valid for a period of 10 years.

Given that over 40% of minor leaguers are foreign-born and that most of them are from the Dominican Republic, this will enable a continuous pipeline of Latin American players. MLB’s foreign academies house, feed, school and teach athletic skills to boys as young as 10 years old until they are age 16, who are then allowed to sign minor league contracts. In the U.S., a player must be 18 years old to sign a minor league contract and then must go through the draft system.

Young Dominicans have the opportunity to benefit from more than just baseball skills but preparation for a life in the U.S. as well. They are given a chance to at least temporarily leave a life of depravity. By the same token, very few of these youngsters statistically make it to the major leagues and even prior to their new visa status, hundreds of minor leaguers were brought to the U.S. each year only to be relieved of their services. Hundreds of Dominican players also never return to their homeland and remain in the U.S. as illegal immigrants, primarily surviving in the underground economy of New York City.

AND

It has been said that Latin players in the Dominican Republic sign for contracts between 5 and 10 cents on the dollar compared to their U.S. counterparts. And with approximately 400 Dominican players signed each year to minor league contracts, MLB can celebrate its unhampered pipeline of such as well as its new surprisingly cozy relationship with the U.S. Congress which it lobbied along with the U.S. State Department, for these immigration law changes.

AND

But it remains a lose-lose for communities across the U.S. which finance sky box stadiums, unable to afford tickets for their families, for games played on the backs of many exploited athletes who never make it to the big leagues and at the expense of our own children, who of little means, are never even encouraged to play baseball by its biggest profiteers.

For there is a proviso in the immigration law which both the U.S. Congress and MLB conveniently overlooked. The policy developed in 1998 by the U.S. Department of Labor and the Immigration and Naturalization Service, now the Department of Homeland Security, granted MLB its visa program, contingent upon foreign-born players only occupying positions on a team that could not be filled by U.S. citizens.

Obviously, the U.S. government and MLB have come to the conclusion that playing baseball should be included among those “jobs Americans won’t do.” Terribly convenient, but sad for the game of baseball, no longer to be considered an equal opportunity employer.

Did the introduction of the amateur draft in 1965 inflate the costs of acquiring players domestically and lead clubs to allocate more player development resources outside the US? Would an expansion of the amateur draft into Latin America (most notably to the Dominican Republic) have the same effect? From a 2003 Emory University School of Law Paper, “U.S. Labor Market Regulation and the Export of Employment: Major League Baseball Replaces U.S. Players with Foreigners” (read in PDF):

Our analysis of the market for professional baseball players shows that domestic labor-market restrictions have reduced domestic employment, especially of African-Americans, with employers instead shifting employment overseas. Our theoretical model suggests that, in 1965, the imposition of both the player draft and stricter age minimums for hiring U.S. players reduced the benefits of signing and developing U.S. players, especially players from disadvantaged groups such as African-Americans. Our empirical analysis, using a new data set, then shows that, in response, teams have shifted to developing and hiring players from other countries where the regulations do not apply, such as Latin America.”

AND

In the 1990s, Puerto Rico has been the one exception to the increasing number of Latin-born players in MLB, providing declining numbers of players.....The draft again explains this....Teams quickly cut back their scouting and development efforts in Puerto Rico....In less than a decade after 1989, the number of Puerto Rican players signed per year had dropped more than 40%.”

Jimmie Lee Solomon, MLB’s Executive Vice President, Baseball Operations was quoted in April 2007 in a piece from Chris Isidore."Clubs do leverage their dollars much better if they develop a kid in a country not subject to the draft," "Those decisions are purely business decisions, very pragmatic business decisions."

Will the struggles of Japanese professional baseball lead to more Japanese players in the US and at increasingly younger ages? First, from a recent report by Junko Fujita on the challenges facing Japanese baseball in light of the global recession.

Despite earning similar revenues to Major League Baseball teams in North America, few of Japan's 12 big professional outfits say they are profitable, prompting even their once-indulgent owners to cut costs in tough times.

Add in the credit crunch and sliding TV revenues and teams are tightening their purse strings in ever more dramatic and visible ways, including the imminent departure of high-profile American manager Bobby Valentine from the Chiba Lotte Marines.

"However hard Japanese baseball teams work to cut costs and boost revenue, most of them can't become profitable," said Munehiko Harada, a sports management professor at Waseda University. "They have done so much but they are still struggling. We might be seeing the limit of their potential now."

AND

U.S. baseball teams typically own stadiums or get subsidized access to public facilities but most Japanese teams hire venues at commercial rates, often from private investors.

The Fukuoka Softbank Hawks pay 4.8 billion yen ($49 million) a year, a quarter of their annual revenue, to the Government of Singapore Investment Corp (GIC), owner of the team's home stadium, said Itaru Kobayashi, a team director.

That is about seven times the sum the New York Yankees paid New York City for its former home, the Yankee Stadium, records from the New York City Comptroller's Office show.

The Hawks, now owned by a mobile phone company, Softbank Corp, have never made a profit since the team was founded in 1938 despite having the fourth-highest audience.

"I always ask myself why it costs so much to operate a baseball team in Japan," Kobayashi laments.

Japanese teams survive because their losses are treated as tax-deductible marketing costs for their corporate owners, which include meat packer Nippon Meat Packers Inc, leasing company Orix Corp and drink maker Yakult Honsha.

But the sustainability of that model may be in doubt as team owners such as Orix, with a huge exposure to a troubled property market, face difficult times.

In March, John Krich reported in the WSJ on speculation that greater numbers of Japanese baseball players could be coming to the US.

There are expected to be 16 players of Japanese origin in the Major Leagues this season, the most ever, with an equal number in the U.S. minor leagues.

AND

So far, there has been little public clamor about the defection of stars to the U.S. Their performances, followed in detail on nightly television recaps and an increasing number of live broadcasts, fuel national pride more than a sense of loss. But what if players begin to jump ship en masse, lured not merely by the mystique of higher-level competition, but U.S. salaries? They average $3 million a year, about five times the average in Japan. (Recently, Japanese teams have at least unofficially loosened rules controlling players' income from marketing and endorsements.)

The onerous length of service before free agency is granted has served to keep most players in Japan for the bulk of their careers. Rules are being eased for players seeking to change teams within Japan, with free agency now granted after eight years (soon to be seven). But there is no sign the NPB is relenting on speeding foreign transfers.

If player and team agree, a player can be "posted" before the nine years is up -- essentially, sold at auction to the highest U.S. bidder. And given the bids for Mr. Matsuzaka in 2007, many observers believe more Japanese teams will go for the money, though some note that a period of economic contraction is a bad time to "get addicted" to big U.S. payouts. And Yomiuri, the publishing giant whose Giants team still dominates revenues and publicity for the Japanese league, has decried selling off the country's best players as succumbing to the "dark side." Says one consultant, "For them, it's a Samurai thing."

A further crack in Japan's player-control system appeared just this year when Junichi Tazawa, a high-school star left undrafted by the Japanese leagues, decided to offer himself directly to the Boston Red Sox. Japanese owners want to ban such renegades from returning to play in Japan for two or three years; a spokesman for the players' union says that this is still being contested.

Some observers argue that cultural factors will keep Japanese prospects from jumping in huge numbers. "Unlike poor Latin Americans, the Japanese won't be as motivated to endure the hardships of the U.S. minor leagues, the language and food problems, when they can have cushy jobs playing for Japanese company teams," said one adviser.

AND

Could the solution to Japan's talent drain come in some eventual absorption of the Japanese leagues into the U.S. Major Leagues? Some baseball insiders see signs of this in the successful staging of the Classic. (LWIB note, “Classic” is the World Baseball Classic) Other positive signs include recent "working agreements" between Japanese and U.S. teams.

Alternatively, Japanese owners might add franchises in South Korea, Taiwan and China, creating a wider, all-Asia league stocked with international players. "That would be a dream come true," says Lotte Marines' manager Mr. Valentine.

Further evidence of MLB’s efforts to develop talent outside the US was revealed in last month’s announcement by the Australian Baseball Federation that they are partnering with MLB on a launching a new national league. Dan Baynes reported for Bloomberg;

The Australian Baseball Federation said it will collaborate with Major League Baseball on the competition. A time frame hasn’t been set, though it could start as early as 2010, said Mark Peters, who will oversee the league’s establishment.

Australia’s federal government will contribute A$400,000 ($323,000) in funding, Sports Minister Kate Ellis said today. Major League Baseball will also invest in the competition, whose predecessor was disbanded a decade ago because it wasn’t financially viable.

“That’s one of the things we’re working on,” Peters said in a telephone interview. “Major League Baseball will be a major backer because they actually believe in Australian baseball and that this league will work.”

MiLB ATTENDANCE UPDATE

LWIB, MiLB announced that attendance through the end of July is down 2.9% from the record setting 2008 season. Given the challenges of selling tickets during a recession, MiLB President Pat O’Conner professed to be quite satisfied with the results to date.

Minor League Baseball clubs attracted over 10 million fans last month, raising the season total to more than 30.5 million. A majority of the leagues experienced increases in their average crowds through July, compared to 2008.

The Florida State League, with a 12.5% hike, leads eight of the 15 circuits that are witnessing larger crowds. The others are the California (4.9%); International (2.2%); New York-Penn (1.7%); Eastern (1.2%); Appalachian (1.0%); Pioneer (0.3%); and South Atlantic (0.1%).

The overall average crowd of 4,045 is 2.9%, or 120 fans, less than 2008 when Minor League Baseball set its attendance record.

"Our clubs are feeling the affects of challenging weather and the economy, but continue to report impressive attendance numbers," stated Minor League Baseball President Pat O'Conner. "To be less than 3% behind last year's record-setting pace is encouraging. Our fans continue to turn out and our clubs continue to treat them to affordable, family entertainment in first rate venues throughout the country."


Pete Toms is an author for the Business of Sports Network, most notably, The Biz of Baseball. He looks forward to your comments and can be contacted through The Biz of Baseball.

Don't forget to register and log in on The Biz of Baseball site to get updates via your in-box, and see information only logged in members can see.

Follow The Biz of Baseball on Twitter Twitter

 
 
Banner

Poll

Should MLB Force Jeffery Loria to Sell the Marlins?