The Yankees made two deals involving China recently. The first was the signing of two teenage Chinese players and the second was a sponsorship deal with the Yili Group. That second deal, with China's largest dairy, is more likely to pay off for the Bombers.
Former Mariner and Cub manager Jim Lefebvre is coaching the Chinese team for the 2008 Olympics and reports that the country is much further from dominating on the diamond then they are from dominating on the marketplace.
“China has no Little League, no high school, no college,” Lefebvre, a former major league player and manager, said during a recent telephone interview. “Baseball is a very young sport in China and has no grassroots programs like we see for the kids from Latin America, the U.S., everywhere. Even Europe has better programs.”
Trailing Europe isn't anywhere you want to be in this brave new world what with their 30-hour work weeks and socialized medicine.The Chinese Baseball League is only five years old and it's abbreviated season (30 games) is largely ignored by the masses. Only a few hundred people attend the games which is even worse than it sounds when you take into account that there's more than a billion people and only so many things to do with your time. Ping-pong matches draw thousands, by comparison, and while we'd never sully the good name of ping-pong we also wouldn't be rushing out to be the first person on your block with a Kai Liu jersey either.