The globalization of the game continues.
Major League Baseball announced that it will open it’s 2014 season in Australia when the Dodgers square off against the Diamondbacks at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
It’s an effort that’s being made by all major sports, and it makes sense. If our leagues are to remain the best in the world, then they need to attract the attention of the rest of the world. By bolstering its appeal in international markets, Major League Baseball creates new untapped revenue resources and begins to build a whole new talent pool from which future stars may be born.
The international opener is not a new idea. Baseball has opened seasons in Mexico, Japan and Puerto Rico already. The other two major sports leagues have joined in the recent trend.
The NFL has played annual games in London, and is flirting with the notion of a possible franchise based there in the future. The NBA has played games in China and is considering playing games in India to continue its international marketing campaign.
You might be asking, why Australia? The selection actually makes some sense.
Baseball has had a long-standing relationship with Australia. For nearly 100 years, the MLB has sporadically played exhibitions at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
There have been 31 Australian major leaguers. Australians who are active in the majors include A’s closer Grant Balfour, Dodgers reliever Peter Moylan, and Astros reliever Travis Blackley. In all, there are more than 60 Aussies under contract with major league organizations.