Our friend Buster Olney writes over at ESPN.com that the Yankees are seeking a working agreement with the Chinese Professional Baseball League.
This is somewhat concerning to me. China is the most populous state in the world, and baseball's success on the Pacific Rim is already very high. Is baseball ever going to be in China what it is in Japan? Probably not, but the team that they fielded in the WBC was proof that the infrastructure and interest exists to a certain extent in China, and with such a large population, there is so much to harness.
This goes beyond player development as well. The Japanese League has become like a second minor league system, and China could very well become the same. Also, the presence of a franchise as successful as New York is, and the fact being that should an academy open, the Yankees would be the only U.S. pro baseball team to set up residence there has to potentially create legions of new fans for them.
My point is that as a fan of a team in the same division as New York, and as someone who hates New York, I do not want to see the Yankees monopolize the most populous country in the world. The article makes the comparison to the Dodgers and Blue Jays being the first teams to open up academies in the Dominican Republic, and feeding off of the success that brought, I fear that this original move into China by the Yankees could bring some of the same, except a larger fan base.
If the Yankees prove successful, of course other teams will move in and their advantage will be compromised. However they will still retain a bit of an edge in fan ranks because they were the original team there. I can't tell you how many stories I've heard of Cubans becoming Yankee fans because they were the only team whose radio broadcast reached the island when they were young. This could potentially bring more of the same.
While I realize that this plan is in its early stages, the fact that the Yankees are branching out and trying to harness a very fertile ground is very shrewd on their part, and very frightening for mine.