Whoa. This bit of "news" came out of nowhere, huh?
The United States and Japanese baseball champions could meet in a Global World Series, Japanese daily Nikkan Sports reported Thursday.
Nippon Professional Baseball commissioner Ryozo Kato was quoted as saying his Major League Baseball counterpart, Bud Selig, had agreed the winners of the two countries' professional leagues should play each other.
"I was surprised, Mr. Selig said he wants to realize the plan before his tenure ends," Kato told Nikkan Sports.
Selig is set to retire in 2012.
I'm surprised, too.
So surprised, that I'm wondering if perhaps something was lost in translation. Because if Major League Baseball was truly interested in such a series, this would be a strange way to break the news.
Not that a Global World Series wouldn't be interesting.
Once or twice.
That's how long it would take to realize that it's a lousy idea. It's baseball, so anything's possible, but the Yankees or the Red Sox or the Phillies or whoever would probably crush the Japanese champions. I'm sorry, but it's true. The Yankees have some of the best players from around the world. The Japanese champions have some of the best players from around Japan, plus a couple of the best players from the Pacific Coast League.
That's one problem.
Here's the other: None of the Yankees will want to play in this thing.
The players can't wait for the season to end. Sure, they want to play meaningful games for as long as they can, but once the World Series ends they're outta there. (The same goes for the coaches and the baseball writers and everyone else who works 16-hour days during the baseball season, but those guys don't have unions like the players do.)
For some years, beginning in the 1950s, major league teams would occasionally travel to Japan in October for exhibition games. Later, every two years an MLB All-Star team would visit Japan for a tour, playing Japanese All-Stars (the last of these was three years ago).
In the old days, some players considered a trip to Japan a nice little perk, a vacation that many of them couldn't have afforded on their (relatively) meager salaries. Even then, some of the stars might take a pass. More recently, many stars accepted the honor but some didn't. The point being, they had a choice. But is the Players Association really going to agree to a compulsory trip to Japan for the World Series winners every October, after an already interminable season?
I don't think so. I think that Commissioner Selig might have suggested, in an off-handed sort of way, that it sure would be nice if the Major League champs could play a real World Series against the Japanese champs. But I don't think he meant to be taken seriously.