Sun, Jul 31, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Fixing puts future of baseball at serious risk

By Wang Chao-yu 王朝鈺

Taiwan, which calls baseball its national sport, is facing yet another professional baseball game-fixing scandal. What future does professional baseball have? Will the scam destroy it?

The earliest recorded game-fixing scandal in the US occurred in 1865. Three members of the New York Mutuals accepted US$100 each for throwing the Sept. 28 game to the Brooklyn Eckfords. Two of them were suspended for life.

In 1877, the Louisville Scandal took place. The scandal nearly destroyed professional baseball in the US. Eventually, the Louisville team folded and four players involved were suspended for life.

A similar gambling scandal happened in Taiwan in 1997. At that time, Kuo Chien-chen (郭建成) -- a pitcher with the China Times Eagles -- was the intermediary. Since many of the Eagles were involved, the team was forced to send a group of rookies to face the Weichuan Dragons in the championship finals. What was even worse, it aroused fans' doubts and suspicions about Taiwan's professional baseball.

Then Taiwanese player Chen Chin-feng (陳金鋒) joined the Los Angeles Dodgers, the national team made it to last year's Olympic Games in Athens for the first time after winning a silver medal 12 years earlier in Barcelona, and Wang Chien-ming (王建民) joined the New York Yankees. Undoubtedly, all these achievements boosted Taiwan's professional baseball, and gradually brought back the passion and support of its fans.

Today, professional baseball is facing another gambling scandal, eight years since the last one. Will the sport be able to revitalize its fans' trust in the same way US professional baseball did after the 1905 and 1908 scandals involving the New York Giants, and even the 1920 Black Sox scandal, in which media discovered that the 1919 World Series had been fixed?

Perhaps Taiwan can make it, and we certainly hope that it can. But there is nothing that can work as an injection to revitalize the sport at present.

Besides, compared to the relatively healthier system of US professional baseball, the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) only passively accepts judicial investigations, and has never taken any active moves.

Fans would rather believe that the players and staff involved in the scandal are absolutely innocent. But if the current suspicions turn out to be true, there is reason to worry and wonder how the CPBL will go about bringing back the passionate support of its fans.

Wang Chao-yu is a student in the Graduate Institute of American Studies at Tamkang University.

Translated by Eddy Chang

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