Home / 2008 Beijing Olympic Games / Olympic sports / Baseball /  News Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read | Comment
A long way in a short time
Adjust font size:

China has obviously made progress under Lefebvre in the past few years. It now stands out among the world's second-string baseball teams.

During the "Good Luck Beijing" International Baseball Tournament last year at Wukesong, China defeated Czech Republic and France by big margins.

However, when China takes on elite sides like Japan, South Korea and Cuba, it lacks the depth to win or even make a close game of it.

A long way in a short timeTaking on a Japanese team rated somewhere between college and the second-tier of professional baseball, China lost twice -- 7-1 and 5-2 -- at the Good Luck Beijing tournament.

On a tour of the US last year, China experienced lopsided defeats against America's best college talents, managing a paltry three runs compared to its opponent's 37.

Also, at the last two Asian Professional Series tournaments where China fielded its national team against league champions from Japan, South Korea and Chinese Taipei, it failed to win a single game.

So when it comes to the Olympics, nobody is predicting medals for the country's baseball team, despite its obvious strengths elsewhere.

"Frankly speaking, baseball is not popular in China and we need to be realistic," said Lei Jun, China's baseball chief. "Just bring it on and hope for the best."

The good news is that China will likely field its best-ever baseball team.

The team's most talented player is veteran Wang Wei, a robust hitter/catcher who made history by hitting the first home run of the inaugural World Baseball Classic in 2006.

Wang is one of four Chinese players who moved to the US with minor league contracts last year. Wang and his Beijing teammate Jia Yubing joined the Seattle Mariners, while newcomers Liu Kai and Zhang Zhenwang went to the New York Yankees.

Wang Chao, another former Seattle Mariners player, also joined the Chinese squad, alongside Zhu Dawei, a Chinese-born pitcher who signed with Japanese Pacific League baseball team Seibu Lions last September.

"We are a lot closer than people give us credit for," Lefebvre said. "We are getting there and we are very close."

Ironically, China's first-ever prime-time baseball show could be its last as baseball has been voted out of the Olympics, at least for the 2012 London Games.

Obviously this is a disappointment for the Chinese players but it also gives them extra drive to do better on home soil.

"We must take this once-in-a-life-time opportunity, despite the uncertain future," said Chinese captain Zhang Yufeng.

(China Daily/The Olympian June 16, 2008)

     1   2  

Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read
Pet Name
China Archives
Related >>
- Key players of Team China
- A final swing
- Chinese Taipei wants Olympic Gold
Most Viewed >>
- Immigrators embrace Olympic torch with enthusiasm
- Schedule
- Sacred flame goes to Xinjiang, then Tibet
- First Olympic music videos released
- Olympic torch visits Kaili for 2nd stop in Guizhou

Product Directory
China Search
Country Search
Hot Buys