Egon is away this week, so he has entrusted his column to several a/k/a Random.
Hi again, folks. As always, any baseball fans can get scores and stories at www.mlb.com, with links to all games and teams, but a cyber-friend of mine passed me a couple tips on an international baseball story I find interesting.
Ever hear the name Sammy Sosa, he of the Chicago Cubs, the only player to have two seasons of 60 home runs? How about Pedro Martinez of the Boston Red Sox? The two 'Cy Young Awards1...'? Or what about Miguel Tejada, Most Valuable Player in 2002 for the Oakland A's? Well, if you're a baseball fan, you sure have, they are among the top players in the game, but how they got to MLB is a little different.
They hail from the Dominican Republic, a small island in the Carribean, and from Venezuela in South America. Latin players have become an increasingly important part of MLB. In 1970, 10% of players were foreign-born and at the beginning of last season, that figure has jumped to 26.1%. All major league clubs have Latin, Korean and Japanese contacts and MLB has international development offices in New York, London, Toronto - Canada - and Sydney - Australia.
In addition, all 30 ML teams have scouts and 'working agreements' with many international leagues and individual clubs. Teams are developing Baseball Academies in Latin countries, sponsoring young boys age 16 and up, feeding and housing them in the hopes of finding that one Sammy, Pedro or Miguel.
'Individual clubs continue to make their own efforts through signing players around the world, which is their own enterprise.'
said Sandy Alderson, MLB's executive vice-president of baseball operations.
'They're looking for players. We're looking, long term, to create an environment in which not only players but fans will be cultivated.'
In essence, American teams sponsor a dormitory/school with a baseball diamond amid the sugar cane and form a league. Players sign a small contract, which can feed entire families and work toward even more lucrative contracts in the American minor leagues, where they are often housed with 'host families' in the US. So, for a relatively small initial expense, major league franchises upgrade their talent pool, providing kids and their families with a substantial (for them) income. American college and high school ballplayers are drafted and signed, often for million$, and for a tenth or hundredth of that, American baseball adds to its truly international flavour.
So here's hoping that Egon can solve his login problems and be back with the English football, rugby and cricket observations. Shazz and The Post Team have graciously allowed me to take up but a small corner of the H2G2. Thanks, all.
PS. American football - you know, the semi-ovoid pointy game with Large Men in suits of armour - is starting up, and that news can be found at www.nfl.com.
So this is several a/k/a random, over and out2!