SBD/Issue 128/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Red Sox-A's Series Attracts Large Crowds At Tokyo Dome

Red Sox-A's Series Draws Over
Capacity Crowds To Tokyo Dome 
A crowd of 44,735 attended the A's 5-1 win over the Red Sox today in the second of two games between the teams at the Tokyo Dome in Japan. Yesterday's game, in which the Red Sox beat the A's 6-5 in extra innings, drew 44,628 fans. Both games were well over the Dome's baseball capacity (THE DAILY). In Boston, Dan Shaughnessy writes of yesterday's game, “This was American baseball at its action-packed best. … If you were the commissioner of baseball, you were happy.” MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said, “When I left my hotel [before yesterday's game], I had to pinch myself. I thought I was in Boston. Everybody in the lobby waiting to come to the game had Red Sox paraphernalia on. It is remarkable” (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/26). Selig appeared on ESPN2’s telecast of yesterday’s game and “revealed that the sport is looking for an opportunity to stage a season-opening series in Europe.” Selig: “We want to open in other places, too. But we’ll be back [in Japan].” He added, “Baseball has never been more popular (in America) and our goal is to take the game internationally” (PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, 3/26).

MIXED SIGNALS: Some fans were unable to view ESPN2 and NESN’s coverage of yesterday’s game, as the networks’ standard definition feeds on DirecTV experienced technical difficulties. Meanwhile, a Comcast spokesperson said that an accident “caused issues for Comcast customers in southeastern Massachusetts.” In Boston, Eric Wilbur wrote, “Of all the things that could have gone wrong in an oft-criticized opener in Japan, it’s hard to imagine anything worse than TV coverage going kaput.” It was a “monumental nightmare for many stateside” (BOSTON.com, 3/25). The SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS’ John Ryan writes MLB is “lucky its little trip didn’t cause a riot” in Boston (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 3/26). In DC, Tim Lemke notes there is a “bit of irony here.” For the “longest time, DirecTV has been the favored service for sports fans because it has the widest selection of sports channels and packages.” For “perhaps the first time, DirecTV has drawn the ire of a big  -- and influential -- body of sports fans” (WASHINGTON TIMES, 3/26).

Some Media Members Upset With MLB's
Decision To Open Season Abroad
INT'L OUTRAGE: In Chicago, Jay Mariotti writes Selig “forever will be known as The Greedy Commissioner, the car salesman who sells out integrity and tradition for the fat-cat owners who aren’t satisfied enough with $6[B]-plus in 2007 revenues and want to sell some t-shirts in Japan. All I know is, if baseball still wants to be embraced as the national pastime and still wants us to regard Opening Day as sacred, the season cannot open halfway around the world” (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 3/26). In Denver, Bernie Lincicome writes under the header, “Selling Of Opening Day Reeks Of Greed.” Lincicome: “Baseball seems to have caught NBA disease.” Opening the season overseas is “so blatantly anti-pastime, so unashamedly greedy, so utterly nontraditional.” Opening Day “does not fertilize a single fan in Tokyo or in China or Prague that a spring-training game would not.” And if “Opening Day is for sale, then why not the All-Star Game or even the World Series?” (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 3/26). However, L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke said, “It’s just something to help spread baseball’s international goodwill. ... It’s not a big deal.” Denver Post columnist Woody Paige: “What difference does it make when the baseball season starts. ... It spreads the international goodwill” ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 3/25). 

GLOBALIZATION: In Miami, Greg Cote writes under the header, “Globalization Hurting Sports In America.” Cote: “There used to be a certain sanctity to American professional sports before globalization became the rather noble code word for disrespecting the fans who built the leagues’ popularity in favor of growing the profit potential” (MIAMI HERALD, 3/26). In San Antonio, Gaylon Krizak writes, until recently, int’l games were Spring Training games, but by “taking the next step and importing regular-season games, [MLB], the NBA and the NFL have raised the stakes, and with them the potential for danger.” Is “expanding foreign interest worth the possible alienation of your home base?” (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 3/26). In Manchester, David Lengel writes, “I don’t have a problem with leagues trying to increase the global popularity of their sport while selling their product abroad.” However, in MLB’s case, the “continual milking of Japan smacks of baseball imperialism” (BLOGS.MANCHESTER.co.uk, 3/25). Miami Herald columnist Dan LeBatard: “This is where you have to go if you want to get more dollars, and this sport needs more dollars for those contracts it’s giving out. So it makes sense that you would globalize” ("PTI," ESPN, 3/25).

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