Recently, the Texas Rangers made news with their reported 10-year, $50 million agreement to rename our beloved ballpark. This rich deal from the Oklahoma City-based Globe Life Accident Insurance Company will give us even more financial flexibility for future moves.
Plus, how perfect is it that one of the league’s most global teams will now play in Globe Life Park?
Yes, your 2014 Rangers will feature more international flavor than usual this season. Here’s a glance at Ron Washington‘s lineup on opening day along with the players’ home countries:
- LF Shin-Soo Choo – South Korea
- SS Elvis Andrus – Venezuela
- 1B Prince Fielder – United States
- 3B Adrian Beltre – Dominican Republic
- RF Alex Rios – Puerto Rico
- DH Mitch Moreland – United States
- C Geovany Soto – Puerto Rico
- 2B Jurickson Profar – Curacao
- CF Leonys Martin – Cuba
P Yu Darvish – Japan
The lineup will represent eight different nations when Texas takes the field against the Philadelphia Phillies on March 31. The strong multicultural presence of this team not only helps the Rangers on the field, but off the field, too.
Although baseball is known as America’s national pastime, the game continues to expand its coverage across the globe. This past summer, the All Star game was broadcast to more than 200 countries in 20 different languages.
In terms of scouting, the MLB just established rules to cap the amount of money franchises can spend on international signings. There have even been discussions of adding an international draft to compensate for the amount of foreign talent being discovered around the world.
I recently visited MLB.com and noticed that 15 of the 30 teams translate their official websites into Spanish. You can even access the official MLB website in Spanish, Japanese, and Korean.
The MLB is clearly adapting to baseball’s global growth. With one of the league’s most diverse rosters, Texas should take significant steps to enhance their diverse fan base even more.
What’s my grand idea? International preseason tours, similar to what European soccer clubs do in America. Even the NBA sent teams to England and Turkey this past fall. The Rangers have played exhibitions against Mexican squads and opened the 2001 season in Puerto Rico against the Toronto Blue Jays. I’m thinking bigger, though. How about Japan and South Korea?
Back in 2012, the Seattle Mariners and the Oakland Athletics played their first two games in Tokyo. Ichiro Suzuki was treated like a god. Fans mobbed role players like they were A-list celebrities. Can you imagine what the reception would be like for Darvish? What about Choo’s arrival in South Korea?
Both players are already widely popular in their baseball-crazed home countries. Why not capitalize on that popularity by bringing their stars back home to play in front of their own people? Exhibitions against their national or professional teams would draw amazing crowds and television ratings in those countries. The exposure would certainly gain Texas a few more fans abroad, too.
Besides a long flight, I don’t really see any other downside to starting my First Annual Texas Rangers International Preseason Tour. Do you?