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General : : Professional
Global World Series is a world-class idea
Jim Ecker    
Published: Friday, January 08, 2010

It’s always seemed a little strange calling the World Series a “world” series when only teams from North America are eligible to play. That could be changing, and soon.

Bud Selig, the commissioner of Major League Baseball, met with the commissioner of Nippon Professional Baseball this past week and discussed the possibility of staging a Global World Series that would match our World Series champion against the champion from Japan.

“Mr. Selig said he wants to realize the plan before his tenure ends,” said Ryozo Kato, the commissioner of Nippon Professional Baseball, which consists of two six-team leagues.

Selig has announced plans to retire in 2012, which is only two years away. He’s confirmed what Kato told a newspaper in Japan about the possibility of a Global World Series, so now it becomes a matter of working out the details.

The devil is always in the details, of course, but it’s worth pursuing.

Will the Players Association of Major League Baseball approve the plan? Where would the games be played? When? Would it be a best-of-7? Would there be travel between the two countries during the series, or would they alternate serving as the host on an annual basis?

Of course, there still would be problems calling it a Global World Series if it’s restricted to American and Japanese baseball. What about Cuba? How about South Korea? The Dominican Republic? Baseball has become a worldwide sport, so why restrict a Global Series to just two leagues?

The World Baseball Classic proved to be immensely popular last spring, held prior to the start of the major league campaign. The Classic included teams from all over the world and produced a stunning upset when the Netherlands beat a team from the Dominican Republic that was filled with MLB all-stars. Japan, by the way, has captured the first two World Baseball Classics and is anxious to pit its top team against the best from the major leagues.

It probably wouldn’t be practical to let the World Baseball Classic evolve into a Global World Series, for logistical reasons if nothing else. It’s hard to imagine a 162-game season in the major leagues, followed by our traditional World Series, followed by an eight-team playoff in a Global World Series. That might carry into December and put too much strain on the players.

No, a Global World Series between Major League Baseball and Japan is probably the right way to go. Other countries might complain, but you have to start somewhere.

Congratulations to Selig and Kato for pushing the idea. Let’s hope it happens.