05.30.05

Davidoff : Nippon Professional Baseball Cool Towards WBC

Posted in Baseball at 11:30 am by

In Sunday’s Newsday, Ken Davidoff writes that Japanese baseball officials aren’t yet sold on the idea of MLB’s World Baseball Classic.

The NPB’s concerns are: 1) Money, of course. The Japanese professional teams think Major League Baseball wants too big a piece of the pie, believed to be 35 percent. A person sympathetic to MLB countered that the 10 Japanese teams would make more, per team, than the 30 MLB clubs, and that MLB, assuming far more risk, should get far more in return.

2) Timing. The Japanese team would begin practice in the second week of February, and if it did well, it could be together until the March 20 final. That would devastate NPB’s spring training, which it regards more seriously than MLB does its own. The Japanese clubs place a premium on team harmony.

3) Personalities. Key Japanese officials simply don’t seem to care for either Selig or Archey. And the wide cultural void as to what constitutes a negotiation has caused further tension. The Japanese generally don’t enjoy the “give and take” of an American-style negotiation. Ideally, a mutually acceptable solution is found at the beginning, and that hasn’t happened.

Of course, Japan could look petty, and perhaps even cowardly, if it declined to play. So the NPB would have to pin the blame on MLB.

With Japan around or not, we just don’t see how this whole idea – brilliant in theory – plays out. If you’re Selig ally Fred Wilpon, for example, how do you explain to your ticket-holders that you’re pushing Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran to exert themselves physically for contests that have nothing to do with the Mets’ playoff run? If you’re Randy Johnson and you’re racing the clock to reach 300 career victories, do you really want to make a “withdrawal” from your finite pitch account to help win an exhibition game?

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