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 Dodgers, Padres set to play ST game in China

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PostSubject: Dodgers, Padres set to play ST game in China   Thu Jan 24, 2008 12:34 am

01/23/2008 7:15 PM ET
Dodgers, Padres set to play in China
Two Spring Training games to be held in Olympics venue
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com

LOS ANGELES -- West goes East this Spring Training, as the Dodgers and Padres meet in the first-ever Major League Baseball games played in China on March 15 and 16, MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association announced Wednesday in a Beijing press conference attended by Dodgers manager Joe Torre and Padres vice president Dave Winfield.

The MLB China Series 2008, hosted by the China Baseball Association, will be the first showcase for the sport of baseball in China. Games will be held at the 12,000-seat Wukesong Baseball Field in Beijing, the host venue for baseball during the 2008 Olympic Games. The Dodgers will be the home team in the first game and the Padres will be the home team in the second game.

"Major League Baseball's international growth has been nothing short of remarkable, and we are thrilled that the Padres and the Dodgers will showcase our sport to the people of China by playing in MLB China Series 2008," said Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig. "I would like to thank the Dodgers and the Padres, the Major League Baseball Players Association, the China Baseball Association, Wukesong Group and all the parties who have made this momentous trip possible. We are greatly anticipating this wonderful opportunity."

San Diego general manager Kevin Towers said China currently ranks behind Japan and Korea as far as baseball prominence in Asia, though he wouldn't be surprised if the landscape shifted in the coming years.

"They do have some great athletes, in gymnastics and in basketball with Yao Ming," Towers said. "It's going to take time before there's Major League-ready players to come out of there. Our hope is we can give them a chance to see professional baseball. They're certainly behind Korea and Japan, but that's not to say that in future years we'll be able to draw players from there."

"China is a leader in international sport, and we know from the enthusiasm and talent the Chinese team displayed in the World Baseball Classic that China may soon become a force to be reckoned with in baseball, too," said Donald Fehr, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association. "We are honored that the China Baseball Association has invited us to share Major League Baseball with the people of China, and look forward with great anticipation to being in Beijing for these historic games."

International ventures are nothing new for the two franchises. Most recently, the Dodgers played the Mets in a Mexico City exhibition series in 2003 and established relations in China in 1980 by building the first practice field in Beijing and funding construction of a baseball stadium, named Dodger Stadium, in Tianjin, 75 miles southeast of the capital.

"The Dodgers' ties to Asia date back more than half a century, so it's only fitting that as we celebrate 50 years in Los Angeles, we are fortunate enough to take part in this historic series," said Dodgers owner and chairman Frank McCourt. "The opportunities to expand this great game into China are limitless, and we hope this trip will solidify the Dodgers' role at the forefront of the globalization of baseball."

San Diego played in the first Opening Day game held outside of the United States and Canada in 1999 against the Rockies in Monterrey, Mexico. The Padres also participated in the first MLB regular-season games held internationally, having played the Mets in Monterrey in 1996.

San Diego chief executive officer Sandy Alderson said Wednesday that the Padres will take what amounts to a split squad of sorts to Beijing, with some regular starters making the trip. Some of the decisions will be made by the team, some by individual players, Alderson said.

"The San Diego Padres are honored to participate in the MLB China Series 2008," said Alderson. "Considering the growing influence of foreign-born players in the game, and considering the potential growth of baseball in China, we are excited to introduce Major League Baseball to the people of China. To be part of this event is incredibly significant for our franchise."

MLB has provided resources to grow the game in China through national team development, coaching instruction, umpire training and youth initiatives. Additionally, in the past year, more than 50 MLB shops have opened in China and numerous MLB games have been broadcast on a leading sports channel.

"The American Chamber in China applauds the efforts of Major League Baseball to support the development of baseball in China," said James M. Zimmerman, AmCham-China chairman. "We are certain that baseball can help strengthen ties today between our two countries, while at the same time promoting health awareness, community spirit, and teamwork with China's athletes, young and old. In this Olympics year, we are reminded of the great potential of sports to contribute to society both globally and in China. Major League Baseball occupies a special place in the hearts of hundreds of millions of fans -- both in the United States and internationally. We are delighted that China is now a formal part of the MLB family and we look forward to seeing more and more games being played here."

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. MLB.com reporter Corey Brock contributed. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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PostSubject: Re: Dodgers, Padres set to play ST game in China   Fri Jan 25, 2008 2:05 am

China is also a leader in human rights violations
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