Don’t Trade Sushi For Sabrett
When baseball history was made last week in the Tokyo Dome in Japan, Queens was a part of it as the borough’s home team, the Mets, trotted on to the field to take on the Chicago Cubs in the first officialy scheduled game ever played outside of North America.
So as this historic occasion plus the outcome of the two-game series—a victory and a loss for each team—becomes part of the future’s trivia lore, "Queens" will be the final answer when the question is asked, "What was the Mets" hometown?"
Although some things in this unique transfer of a wholly American phenomenon to a foreign setting remained basically the same—Benny Agbayani’s bases-loaded game-winning home run, for example—there were some glaring differences, too.
The good-sized crowd of 55,000 fans were somewhat more polite than your garden variety Shea Stadium habitues. And sushi-and-saki doesn’t quite match the flavor of a hot dog and a Coke or beer.
Now that the lords of baseball have sent our national pastime across 12 or 13 time zones in search of new fans and a fresh talent pool, what’s next? A series with the Rome Gladiators in the Doma di Roma? Or looking southward, a clash with the Dominican Dodgers?
The ground-breaking events last week have given rise to talk of a true World Series somewhere in the future, or a competition for a baseball World Cup.
This is, of course, very premature and a tad unrealistic. Although Japan has displayed a true love of the game and has a major league of its own already in existence, there are few other countries that have advanced to a similar degree.
There will be those who will point to parts of the globe and say, "If you build a stadium and field a team, they will come." But will they have the cash to pay for a ticket? Will they be able to fill the seats? We think not.
What we saw last week in Tokyo was an interesting and enjoyable event, something that adds some interest and excitement to relieve the sameness of a seven-month, 162-game season.
The operators of major league baseball will continue to seek new venues around the world to make inroads, to develop an interest in this wonderful game, to create new markets for the ancillary products that now are part of the game.
But for local fans throughout the U.S.A. the burning questions will remain: when are we going to see a pennant around here, a World Series champion? How are plans for that new stadium coming along? Why can’t our team get one of those big guys—a Sosa, a McGuire, a Griffey?
A truly international league? You’ve been drinking too much saki!