More than 10,000 fans are expected at the Sinjhuang Baseball Stadium in New Taipei City this weekend to take part in the 2012 Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) All-Star Weekend.
The annual mid-summer baseball gala will bring several novelties to the fans in northern Taiwan after being held elsewhere around the nation in the past five seasons.
Among the novelties that will spice up the highly anticipated All-Star Game is the exchange of an individual player between the two squads for the game tomorrow afternoon, with the Bank of Taiwan Team Red (consisting of the Brother Elephants and the Lamigo Monkeys) dealing Lamigo smasher Lin Chih-sheng to the All-Star Team White (consisting of the Uni-President Lions and the Sinon Bulls) for the service of Sinon slugger Lin Yi-chuan.
“[Exchanging a player for the game] is something that we’ve talked about for a while and we are happy that it has finally happened,” Lamigo skipper and Team Red manager Hung Yi-chung said earlier this week.
The transaction was made public after representatives from all four clubs jointly approved the proposal in an effort to increase the hype for the game.
Also new to this year’s contest is the purchase of the naming rights for one of the teams, which was claimed by Bank of Taiwan, whose intent to take part in local professional sports is evident with its own team in the Super Basketball League (SBL).
While Elephant rookie sensation Lin Yu-ching’s selection to start for Team Red is nothing new to the event, the Lions’ staff ace Yuya Kamada’s selection to start for Team White is an unprecedented one as the Japanese native becomes the first foreign player to start in the annual mid-summer classic in the league’s 23-year history.
“Kamada’s selection to start the game is well-deserved,” Lion skipper and Team White manager Terushi Nakashima said of his fellow countryman earlier this week.
Kamada has earned the distinction of being the league’s fastest pitcher to win 10 games (11 games), not to mention his league-best 12 wins and 1.79 ERA (earned run average).
Prior to tomorrow’s All-Star Game, the weekend will kickoff with the annual Home Run Derby this afternoon, where 12 of the league’s top longball bashers will gather for a chance to win the bragging right as the top hitter in the league, along with a hefty NT$100,000 check.
Among the 12 contestants in this year’s competition are five former winners led by the Lions’ Chang “OEO” Tai-shan and Kuo Jung-yo and the Monkeys’ Chung “Yoyo Man” Cheng-yo, Lin Chih-sheng, and Chen Guan-ren.
At least six of the dozen sluggers have the potential to run away with the winner’s trophy, so their game-time groove will be the deciding factor for their success on a night when the outfield of the Sinjhuang Stadium will be filled with fans looking to catch a home-run ball.
“Not being selected to the starting lineup did cause some concerns for me, so I will try to get it back by winning the Home Run Derby,” Lin Chih-sheng said earlier this week.
He lost the starting spot on Team Red to the Elephants’ Wang Sheng-wei.