With two games separating the first and last teams in the league standings three weeks into the new season, this year’s CPBL season promises to be an exciting one.
Aside from having a new commissioner, Wu Chih-yang, who is looking to begin his reign with a slew of changes that include a Web-based voting platform for the fans to determine the top player of the year, the league is also attempting to shake off a somewhat disappointing campaign last year that was marred by an ugly fight with MP & Silva over the broadcasting rights by providing the fans with some plain old exciting action around the diamond.
“I promise to do my best to bring a brand new baseball experience for the fans this year,” Wu said at the start of the season.
The former Taoyuan mayor has seen attendances rise by a considerable amount, even though official figures will not be available until later this season.
Unlike in the past, when solid pitching usually dominated the hitting in the early games, the hitters are enjoying tremendous success by scoring seven or more runs in 14 of the 24 games through Wednesday, with the Lamigo Monkeys’ bashing trio — Lin Chih-sheng, Chung “Yoyo Man” Cheng-yo and Chen Chun-shui — leading the league in homers, with three apiece.
Even though the Primates are in second place behind the top-ranked EDA Rhinos, they are still heavy favorites in the title race, due to the potent lineup at their disposal.
Another way to look at how closely matched the four clubs are this year is that the top three pitchers in terms of total wins are all from different teams, with the Rhinos’ Mike Loree, the Chinatrust Brothers’ Cheng Kai-wen and the Lamigo Monkeys’ Jared Lansford having won three games each so far.
“With the wealth of talent that is available to us and more Taiwanese players opting to return from abroad a lot earlier than before, the timing may be right for an expansion in the number of teams,” renowned baseball commentator Yang Ching-lung said earlier this week.
The number of ready-and-able players has risen to an unprecedented high and many are having to settle for roles for which they are less suited, due to a lack of available spots on professional rosters.
While rumors of at least two expansion teams have circled for more than a year, no firm plans have been announced by the league nor any local enterprises that have shown an interest in establishing a team in the past.
Perhaps it will take Wu another season or two to make the rumors a reality.
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