David Ely's "Summer Stock" column this week for Baseball America strikes a chord with me. Summer stock takes a look around America's top summer baseball leagues. David writes that there is an influx of young baseball players from Taiwan playing now in the Alaska Baseball League, which is often cited as a rival with the Cape as the top summer league. To be fair, they are different leagues playing by different rules. But it is inarguable that Major League Baseball has become a global showcase of talent. Japanese, Latino, Korean, Canadian and Australian players are the norm on MLB rosters. Taiwan and China are not far behind. So why isn't that international flavor finding its way into the premier summer baseball leagues?
According to Ely's reporting, the head coach of Taiwan's World Baseball Classic national team contacted U.S. summer colege leagues awhile back to ask if anyone would take his players. Alaska is not tied to the same NCAA rules that bind the Cape or other summer collegiate leagues. So the Taiwan coach contacted the Anchorage Bucs.
"Look, if you send me guys that arent's good--they're not gonna get to play. And it's going to be a long summer," said GM Dennis Mattingly.
But things worked out quite well and both Taiwanese players and American players learned from one another. The Bucs also play international teams from Korea and Japan. (Listen to our podcast with Bob Bavasi, founder of JapanBall.com for his perspective on this.)
Isn't that kind of interaction perfect for college students, not to mention college baseball players? Doesn't that kind of exchange prepare baseball players as well as college students for the global nature of our world?
The NCAA should encourage rather than discourage that sort of international exchange. And the Cape Cod Baseball League should request it rather than waiting while others embrace it.