It seems insane on the surface; the Red Sox paid in excess of$51 million purely for the privilege of negotiating with Scott Boras for what
will be an expensive contract to land Daisuke Matsuzaka. But insanity isn’t the
name of the game in good business, and this is a risk-reward scenario. Let’s
look beyond the team’s need to solidly their rotation in the present with a couple
of aging anchors in Tim Wakefield and Curt Schilling. Let’s forget he’s young at
26 with a great scouting report and the likely the best starting pitcher to come
over from Japan.
Let’s just stick with business…..
First there is likely to be a kickback, err, re-purchase, of
some of this money for a partnership agreement in marketing rights. Second, there
will other money generated as the Red Sox dip their feet into the Japanese market.
Certainly their games will now be televised in Japan on a more frequent basis although I’m uncertain what this means to the Red Sox,
as my knowledge of foreign televised games and how it’s disbursed against the general
MLB TV pool is a little fuzzy. I should do the homework but that would require
reading. Third on the list is establishing goodwill with Japanese baseball,
and exposing the foreign fan to the Red Sox product, something the Mariners have done successfully
despite the on-field debacle they’re presently offering.
The sale of merchandise and television revenues should
increase dramatically but it’s the third thing that hits home. There are 127.5
million people in Japan,
many screaming for baseball. It’s the land of opportunity for both marketing
and talent scouting. And while the official position is the Chinese hate the
Japanese and vice versa, it’s the same for the Red Sox and the Yankees. They
watch each other like hawks and follow suit when necessary. China is the world market up-and-comer and will mirror Japan to an extent, given their success in the global economy after WW II.
China at last count had over 1.3 billion people. Not only are there huge economic markets
for baseball to explore, but what about the talent base? As a generality, the Chinese
are not large men, but unlike basketball and football, professional baseball is
not a game only for the genetically mutated. Granted they’re currently a
century behind in development of the sport, but the thinking baseball man
should recognize the possibilities.
So let’s ignore the career innings pitched at his youngish
age, the fact that the starting pitchers from his country have more or less found to be wanting, and any notions of Hideki Irabu. Let’s just focus on the positive.