You know how you talk your boss into sending you on a business trip, because you've never been to New York and you'd like to see the tourist attractions and catch a show? There is really no benefit to your position or the company, but you're able make vague promises about networking and building relationships. That's the feeling I get with this whole baseball exhibition in China.
It's not there, it's 50 people out of 1.3 billion. Here's what we know so far. Baseball is not popular at all in China. There is also no talent to speak of. The Chinese team was terrible in the World Baseball Classic, losing every game by large margins. China currently has one billion citizens that have no interest in baseball and everybody wants to sell them something.
My prediction is that there will be little to no interest in American Baseball until a Chinese player makes it into the big leagues. That may happen when academies get built, but this particular trip is not going to bring in new fans or be able to sustain those fans after the teams leave.
"If the Chinese see this as real baseball, the best in the world, they will embrace it," Small said.
Sending two split squads that are just beginning to practice again isn't going to do the trick. I guarantee you will not see world class baseball and the world class players will be giving less effort than they do at the All Star Game.
The MLB has to climb a mountain to gain some value from this untapped resource of a billion citizens and they just poked their toe forward. I hope everyone enjoys the Chinese food.