December 21, 2014

Dodgers Historic Trip to China May Not Be So Memorable

Dodgers and Padres
I’ve been in Paris all week, well insulated from Spring Training and the plight of the Dodgers and their upcoming two game series against the Padres in China. I happened to log-in from the Paris airport just now and get caught up on things while I await my flight back to the states and ran across T.J. Simers take on the Dodgers trip to China.

While the premise that sending a hodgepodge of Dodger players to face off against “the Pads” seemed like a story that was created because there wasn’t any other interesting news on the Dodger front, it did get me thinking: What are the Chinese (or the rest of the world) going to get from this display?

If you take a look at who we’re sending, it certainly doesn’t smack of something for the history books: Eric Hull, Mike Koplove, Hong-Chih Kuo, Greg Miller, Justin Orenduff, Chan Ho Park, Matt Riley, Brian Shackelford, Eric Stults, Ramon Troncoso and Tanyon Sturtze. Hell, half of these guys are non-roster spring training invites! I doubt that the people in attendance at this game realize that many of these guys will never see the permanent roster at the end of March – smacks of self-promotion and media spin to me.

What are we really saying to the world with this trip? “Sorry, can’t spare our top talent for this little venture as we’ve got some gelling to do in Vero Beach before the season starts” comes to mind. I remember attending the first interleague game at the Ballpark in Arlington between the Giants and the Rangers. Lots of fanfare, all of the marquis players doing battle, and a tribute to Jackie Robinson. What could be better?

Evidently, not much. Besides a big paycheck that MLB is no doubt receiving for this little bit of East-West diplomacy, I don’t see what other benefit there is. The Chinese will see a random assortment of players on an unfamiliar field in an exhibition game that will likely look nothing like a real game (except for the rules and the uniforms). Ah yes, now I remember – we want to keep recruiting Chinese players for the league!

Bud Selig evedently disagrees. “It’s quite an experience, to say the least,” Selig said. “I’m thrilled with it. So this is great. This is history in the making. Someday I’ll look back on all this and say, ‘It was great to go for the first time.’ ” . I think he really meant so say ‘this will be a great help in recruiting our sixth Chinese national to MLB so we can continue to pilfer from their talent pool and strengthen our position in an era of declining interest and large salaries for American players.’

Outsourcing may be taking on a whole new meaning…