Scheduling conflicts between the Chinese Professional Baseball League regular-season play and the 2014 Asian Games has many wondering whether the league will sacrifice itself and allow its players to represent Taiwan in one of the most important athletic competitions in Asia.
Preliminary indications by the league suggest that current professional CPBL players will not be available for this once-every-four-years opportunity. While no definitive decisions have been made by the league, it is speculated that the league will likely leverage its position by exchanging its nod for more control of the national team from the incumbent Chinese Taipei Baseball Association (CTBA), an extension of the International Baseball Federation.
“It would be a great disappointment if [the CPBL players] won’t be able to take part in [the Asian Games],” Uni-President Lions catcher Kao Chih-kang was quoted as saying by the local press earlier this week.
He has been in the national team for more than a decade and knows how important the CPBL players are to Taiwan’s success, as several of Taiwan’s clutch plays in the most recent World Baseball Classic were made by household names such as Peng “Chia Chia” Cheng-min (Brother Elephants), Chang Chien-ming (Lions), Chen Yung-chi (Lions), Hu Chin-lung (EDA Rhinos) and Kao Guo-hui (Rhinos).
The well-known hostility between the league and the CTBA may not be news for the Taiwan baseball community, with each party insisting on its authority and leadership role on all baseball matters. However, the standoff between the sides begs for a peaceful resolution, now more than ever, because baseball has not enjoyed as much popularity as it has in the past eight months. Sacrificing the long-term health of the sport for the sake of a power struggle between the two bodies would be unfortunate, to say the least.
The fans may not know the ins and outs of the situation, and they do not have to, because neither the essence of the game nor their love for the game has changed. The only thing that needs to be changed is that someone must put aside individual pride and financial interest to assume the role of mediator to resolve the issues at hand. The stakes may be high, because the losing party may never regain its footing in baseball. However, the absence of a permanent solution will harm the sport far more than a clear-cut resolution might.