Recent derisiveness over Major League Baseball’s decision to again play its season opener in Japan made sense early on. The travel demands are horrific, the compensation even worse. Coaches and support staff not being paid, the Asian media monster, on and on.
But then the realization dawned: What a huge mistake it would be if MLB didn’t take the time and money to invest in the world economy by playing games abroad? The one caveat being a more sensible and tactful approach to choosing WHICH games are played abroad.
The suggestion? Play the Major League All-Star Game in Japan. Imagine the money, imagine the (digital) flashbulbs, forget your national pride.
MLB would have to extend its’ all-star break to from three to seven or eight days but it would be well worth it. The long-term dividends from having the game’s biggest stars travel to Japan for the real deal, the All-Star Game, the game that determines home-field advantage in the World Series, are much longer than this sentence.
Short-term multiples? A segment of disgruntled players, coaches and fans. So MLB throws them a bone. They pay the players and coaches handsomely and play the Minor League All-Star Game in the same prime-time spot for the fans. This makes business sense for so many reasons, none more powerful than letting the fans get a tasty glimpse of a future product.
MLB would now have two definitive products to promote and could further draw distinctions between products for brand-marketing purposes. The minor leagues are almost completely ignored nationally, so having a prime-time spot where baseball consumers can become acquainted with their favorite team’s soon-to-be star is a good sell job. And having the baseball’s best players oversees for a week makes MLB a very profitable multi-national.
Besides, baseball fans don’t watch the All-Star Game because it’s a live event, they watch because every teams’ best player is on the field. It’s the best of the best, and they’ll be just as many fans watching the tape-delayed replay of the game as would watch the live telecast. And FOX or whomever would probably carry the game live, at 6 a.m. (EST), just for the ad revenue.
Furthermore, rumors of MLB’s effort to create revenue in Europe should not be ignored and/or dismissed. For the same reasons as playing the All-Star Game in Japan is sensible, image the beauty of Spring Training in the south of France!