After what is probably the most ado ever about a fringy left-handed relief specialist, Ni Fu-Te has declined his option to join the CPBL’s Brother Elephants and will sign with the Detroit Tigers (translation tool required). Ni becomes the first CPBL player ever to sign with an MLB team.Taiwan baseball is riding through (yet another) rough patch in the wake of (yet another) game fixing scandal, practically an annual rite in Taiwan's baseball league. This time two teams collapsed, leaving just four in the league. The scandal, which caught one of the owners, dmedia, even forced them to sell off their basketball team.
Details are as yet undisclosed, and will be announced next week in a press conference in Taiwan. According to Yahoo!, the deal consists of a 150,000 signing bonus, 60,000 yearly salary, and a AAA start (translation tool required). The signing ends weeks of speculation as to whether or not Ni would remain in Taiwan or try his hand overseas.
A few weeks ago in a commentary in the Taipei Times Jackson describes some of the problems Taiwan's teams, and Asia's teams, are facing, and suggests a pan-Asian MLB to counter the threat from America:
The last couple of months of baseball in Asia provided followers with a glimpse of the problems confronting the professional game in the Pacific Rim, as well as the possibilities and benefits that would arise from the creation of a pan-Asian major league consisting of pro teams from Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and China. Last month’s Konami Cup — a competitive but ultimately meaningless annual exhibition series featuring champion teams from Japan’s NPB, Korea’s KBO, China’s CBL and Taiwan’s CPBL — showcased Asia’s best pro clubs and highlighted the movement toward international play. But the tourney was played to mostly empty seats, save for a handful of scouts, friends and families of players and a few die-hard fans in the Tokyodome.Read the whole thing; the discussion is excellent. With its low salaries and low level of public enthusiasm, Taiwan baseball could benefit from entering an international framework that could help it upgrade its professional skills and keep the circling gangsters at bay.
Here in Taiwan, this year’s gambling and match-fixing scandal has caused two of the CPBL’s teams to fold, leaving the league on the verge of collapse with just four teams remaining. Meanwhile, Taiwanese fans who will stay awake until 3am or travel halfway across the world just to watch Wang Chien-ming (王建民) pitch a single game can’t be bothered to travel a few hundred meters (or even change the channel) to watch CPBL games.
In Japan, a select few pro teams remain profitable, but most are struggling to stay afloat as fans and baseball brass lament declining interest and an increasing defection of top talent to Major League Baseball (MLB).
At the same time, MLB teams are continuing to comb Asia’s professional leagues and amateur ranks for talent, in some cases signing “agreements” with Asian pro teams that treat them more or less as vassal appendages to the big league clubs. Recently there has been talk of adding an MLB franchise or even an entire division in Asia. But this doesn’t solve the problem for fans of local professional teams and leagues in Asia who want to see quality, homegrown pro baseball.
UPDATE: this was passed around the ESL job lists a couple of days later:
The Detroit Tigers professional baseball organization is seeking a person who is bilingual in Mandarin/English to act as a companion/translator/English teacher for a male Taiwanese professional baseball player. The ideal candidate is male, fluent in both Mandarin and English, interested in baseball/sports, energetic and able and willing to work flexible hours. For more information call: Sharon Lockwood, 863-413-4101 or send cover letter and resume to:[Taiwan]