Excerpt from remarks to Boston College Chief Executives Club
March 6, 2019
TAKEAWAY: Global Environment
One of the things you said when you took over was you were committed to growing the game—and growing the game to a broad audience. You took us down to Cuba. You’ve taken us to Mexico. You’ve taken us to Japan. This summer, the Red Sox and the Yankees are going to play in London, which we’re all really looking forward to. Why is international play such a key part of your strategy?
Well, I just think that we operate in a global environment. You have to make your mind up as to whether you want to be a niche sport, popular in the United States or North America, taking Canada into account, and in a little pocket in Taiwan, Korea, and Japan, or whether you think you really have a product that can be a worldwide product.
We think we have the greatest game in the world and we think for the game to recognize its true potential, we have to be bigger than just those small pockets where we’re really popular already. Baseball faces some tough challenges in that regard because we’re an everyday game. We’re not going to play—we’re not going to permanently have a team in Europe, at least until travel changes from what it is now.
But our thought with respect to that is you can have places around the world—and I think the very best one is probably Japan, Taiwan, Korea right now—where you got a great domestic product. I’ve gone to NPB games in Japan and professional games in Korea. Great atmosphere in their ballparks, really avid fans, making money on the ground, the game being played, and a relationship with Major League Baseball with an appropriate number—and I’ll come back and talk about that word appropriate—number of their stars actually move to Major League Baseball and drive interest in Major League Baseball against the backdrop of that domestic product.
So appropriate is the balance word, right? We want, in countries around the world, to have a healthy domestic product, enough stars to drive that domestic product in those local sports, but yet the ability for the very best, we think, to come to Major League Baseball and drive interest in what’s going on here as well.