Fans and sports officials have been engaged in heated discussions amid speculation, leaks and recriminations after Brothers Baseball Club announced five star players have been dropped from the roster before playoffs begin on Friday.
The surprise development was not the happy news the Chinese Professional Baseball League wanted as its promotional machine was trying to drum up interest in post-season play, as the firestorm has engulfed the sports community and has generated a significant amount of negative coverage and rumors about players’ off-field activities.
The Brothers are scheduled to head to Tainan on Friday to face the Uni-President Lions in a first-round playoff, with the winners advancing to face the Lamigo Monkeys, whose consistently outstanding performance gave them the best record of the regular season.
Over the weekend, local media reported that Brothers executives had left five star players off the playoff roster, including their two most productive hitters: clean-up man Lin “Big Brother” Chih-sheng and former Boston Red Sox Double-A prospect Chiang Chih-hsien.
The others were all-star outfielder Chang “The Flower” Cheng-wei, 10-year veteran and seven-time Golden Glove-winner Wang Sheng-wei and catcher Cheng Ta-hung, the “Johnny Damon of Taiwan.”
The Brothers confirmed the lineup change in a statement on Saturday last week, which provided a partial explanation for the move.
“Team manager Cory Snyder has made adjustments to the team, with an emphasis on defense and speed, that resulted in improved performance in September... We will continue to focus on the concept, playing good defense and going with a balanced hitting lineup [for the playoffs],” the statement said.
“The Brothers Baseball Club continues to uphold its core values of teamwork and adhering to team discipline with regards to the long-term development of the club and baseball in Taiwan,” it added.
Discussions among fans on online discussion boards pointed to running conflicts in the team throughout the season, with players reportedly being insubordinate, violating club rules and expressing unhappiness with Snyder’s American style of management, which forced the club to cut them, as no player can be bigger than the team.
Speculation hinted that Lin was leading the insubordination, as he often expressed dissatisfaction to teammates and the media about Snyder not rotating him in the batting order and his position on field.
Snyder — an MLB player from 1986 to 1996 who has coaching experience at the Triple-A level and in the Mexican Baseball League — took over in December last year and imposed an American style of coaching and training, which some players early in the season said was too strict and inflexible for Taiwanese players.
PCG Brothers, the agency representing four of the five players, yesterday met with club executives and said in a statement that the players have agreed to rest before next season.
“The players understand the club’s good intentions and will follow the rules to set examples for everyone,” the agency said.
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