Baseball Needs to Embrace Global Expansion

Former Toronto Blue Jays star Jose Bautista has urged baseball's bosses to step up their efforts to promote the sport globally.

While baseball is firmly established as one of the top four sports in North America, it has largely struggled to gain worldwide recognition. Japan also has a strong passion for baseball, but many other well-populated regions have failed to embrace America's favorite pastime. Baseball was included in the 2020 Summer Olympics, with Japan claiming the gold medal and the United States securing silver.

Bautista featured for the Dominican Republic, helping them claim the bronze medal courtesy of a thrilling 10-6 victory over South Korea. The 41-year-old recently told Betway that using global events such as the Olympics to grow baseball is essential if the sport is to flourish in the future.

"Being able to play and represent my country was amazing -- you get a sense of pride that's different," he said.

"You always want to win for your professional team, you always have that connection with the fan base. I know I felt that when I was in Toronto. But your connection to your home country, where you were born, what you identify with as a person, it's just a different level of passion. And that didn't exist before in baseball.

"Hopefully, we can continue to grow the game in the places where it hasn't gotten to yet like India, the Middle East, Brazil. Places where people love sports, where there are great athletes already. That'll continue to expand the type of new player that can come into the game and start changing the game and helping the game overall."

One of the biggest issues baseball has faced in recent years is resistance to change, with many people connected to the sport still stuck in the past.

The irony that a so-called "World Series" is nothing of the sort to most of the planet makes it difficult for other regions to take baseball seriously.

This insular thinking threatens baseball status as one of the traditional big four sports in North America, with soccer now breathing down its neck. Ice hockey has already been overtaken by soccer and baseball is in danger of going the same way if it fails to embrace a more globally diverse way of thinking.

Bautista insists that baseball's bosses must strive to embrace what other cultures can bring to the sport and make it more appealing to the global masses.

"If you look at how baseball is played in Japan, it's very disciplined, it's a little bit more toned down, going for the 1-run lead all the time, bunting in the third inning," he added.

"In the Caribbean, you just play with a little more flair, a little more show, a little more emotion. In the States, it's the highest level of the game where everything gets combined and it's been built around the home run and the strikeout over the last few years.

"I think baseball is headed in the right direction when it comes to the world stage. Hopefully things like this continue to happen where fans from around the world are more connected to our game."

Featured Site