Monday, September 06, 2004

Japan's 1st Baseball Strike

It appears that a work stoppage is about to doom the rest of the season here. The players are doing the right thing by sticking up for themselves. Something--no, MANY things--need to be done to get this league on track. The players have the overwhelming support of the fans in this country. Unlike the MLB strike back in the 90's, this strike isn't about the players' salaries. Well, at least not directly.

Due to some of the most inept business practices one can imagine (next to no interaction between the players and the fans, non-existent marketing, etc.), the majority of the ballclubs in this country are struggling to make ends meet. Most of the teams are thought of as advertising for the parent company, and little is done to attract new customers to the ballpark. A lot of the rules governing the way that baseball is presented to the public are also partly to blame for the current mess. Several parent companies are trying to find ways to dump their respective baseball teams, and one of the solutions that they've come up with is merging clubs.

The Orix Bluewave and the Kintetsu Buffaloes, both from the Pacific league, are preparing to do just that. Those two organizations are also planning to send 100 players and personnel packing without a second thought. This is one of the main reasons that the strike is now an issue. If the owners approve the merger, which they are expected to do later this week, then the strike will take effect this weekend. Inter-league play and equal television rights for all baseball teams could have helped avert this problem if they had been instituted a decade ago, but long-term business strategies do not seem to be part of the everyday thinking that goes on in the front offices of these struggling ballclubs.

I have tickets to the game on Sunday. It was supposed to be my first trip to Tokyo Dome. I guess I'll have to find something else to do that evening. J-League...? Nope. I'm not that desperate.


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