For your Saturday morning reading pleasures: The Yankees go to China. Late last month, as part of baseball’s effort to penetrate the Chinese market and the Yanks’ effort to spread their franchise globally, team officials headed across the Pacific for a trip to the Far East, and Xiyun Yang of The Times’ China bureau tagged along for some of the trip. Her article is an interesting one because it captures China’s approach toward sports in a rather intriguing light. Despite the billions of people who live in China, only four million play the game there, and to most, it remains a mystery.
Still, Randy Levin and Brian Cashman dragged the World Series trophy with them to drum up interest in the sport and for good reason. As Yang notes, baseball is looking for its Yao Ming, its big Chinese superstar who will open up a very large and lucrative market. The team that finds this player will stand to benefit for years. Most of the youngsters Yang talked to seem to be rather mystified by the game, but all it will take is one person to tip the country. If that means a trip to a nation more focused on Ping Pong, badminton and the NBA than the every move of Johnny Damon, that’s just the price to be.