Managers from the champions of the Taiwanese, Australian, Japanese and South Korean professional leagues gathered at a press conference in Greater Taichung last night to promote this year’s Asia Series, which will commence at the Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium tomorrow afternoon.
With Taiwan’s Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) champs Uni-President Lions playing hosts to their counterparts from the Australian Baseball League’s Perth Heat, Nippon Professional Baseball’s (NPB) Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks and the Samsung Lions of Korea Professional Baseball for the first time in history, baseball fans around the nation will be treated to world-class diamond action when the four teams compete in the five-day event for bragging rights as Asia’s best baseball club.
“We are thrilled about having the chance to host an international event as visible and meaningful as this one and we hope to keep the title in Taiwan if we can,” Lions skipper Lu Wen-sheng said earlier last week.
His team had to wait until this past weekend for the NPB champions to be determined, as the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in March forced the league to postpone the start of its season by nearly a month.
It will be a brand new experience for most of the clubs and their players this year, because the tournament was suspended after the withdrawal of former title sponsor Konami Corp following the 2008 series. The CPBL announced the resumption of the event late last year with Taiwan hosting after Japan previously had the honor of hosting it at the Tokyo Dome since the tournament’s inaugural year in 2005.
This will be Australia’s first time in the event, taking China’s place, as they decided not to participate after an All-Star team from the China Baseball League (CBL) from 2005 to 2007 and the 2008 CBL champions Tianjin Lions finished last in the Asia Series each year.
The four teams will play in a round robin from tomorrow to Sunday before the teams with the two best win-loss percentages face off in the title game scheduled for Tuesday.
Standing in the way of the Lions keeping the trophy in Taiwan will be the favorites from Japan, whose NPB teams have taken all four Asia Series championships. The Hawks will also have the advantage of having just played a seven-game Japan Series, meaning they are still in game shape, compared with the three other teams, even though one could just as well argue that fatigue from lack of rest could hurt the Hawks.
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