Friday, January 16, 2009

Will the Japanese have to drive down the Pearl Harbor highway

The Chicago White Sox are being replaced. In Tuscon, that is. And the Japanese are coming.

So what's happening:
The Pima County Sports and Tourism Authority has spent months in discussions with Baseline Group, a Massachusetts-based firm that focuses on player evaluation and development. The firm also helps American teams establish relationships with Japanese and Korean teams.
The idea behind this:

Baseline CEO Adam White sent a proposal to Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry to try to create a year-round, international training facility at TEP. Under the proposal, a Japanese team would play 13 to 15 Cactus League games. Baseline would also establish an extended spring training and instructional league team to compete against squads run by the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks, Tucson's two spring training clubs.
How does Bud feel about this:

Dan Schneider, a former big-leaguer and member of the authority, said the group met with Major League Baseball representatives in December during the Las Vegas Winter Meetings.

He said the league was "very, very open" to a Japanese team in the Cactus League, but "there is still a lot of negotiations and agreements to be made before there is a commitment to that concept."
One other idea:

Baseline also wants to create and own a minor-league team composed of a Japanese player base to compete in America.
I don't see the Japanese liking that very much. They're already losing too many players to the majors, and having some their minor leaguers play against American competition regularly would only seem to make the problem worse.

There is a lot more information in the article, mostly financial and future planning issues. I lived near Tuscon for 2 years, and spent quite a bit of time there. I even watched some minor league baseball there. Its a good town, and it would be a good place for the Japanese play. This is probably a good idea, but it seems a little strange that a private corporation is doing this, and not MLB. But you can bet Bud will take advantage of it, if the situation comes up.

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