A new professional baseball league in the Middle East and Southwest Asia, dubbed “desert baseball,” has made a historic debut.
The Baseball United League, which features four teams from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), India, and Pakistan, held its inaugural game in Dubai on May 25. Ahead of the official launch, the league played two showcase games in an all-star format.
In the first game, the East All-Star team was led by 247-game Major League Baseball winner Bartolo Colon. The West All-Star team’s number one hitter was Robinson Cano. With a fastball in the low 80s, Colon got Cano to ground out to first base.
The next few ML All-Star batters were unable to capitalize on the 50-year-old pitcher.
Alejandro De Aza struck out looking on an outside fastball and Didi Gregorius grounded out to second. Colon allowed two runs on three hits and a walk through three innings. He struck out three. He threw 53 pitches. The final score was 3-2 in favor of the East All-Stars.
The showcase also featured other ML All-Stars like Pablo Sandoval and Andrelton Simmons. Willin Rosario, formerly of the Hanwha Eagles, was the starting catcher for the West All-Stars. Nineteen of the 20 starting lineups (including pitchers) for both teams are from the MLB. Chris Bayers, the only German league player, 먹튀검증토토사이트 batted fourth for the West All-Stars, perhaps due to his residency in Dubai.
The Baseball United League (BUL) broadcast the historic inaugural game live online to the world via its Internet homepage and said it expects more than 200 million households in 127 countries to watch.
The crowd was estimated to be in the hundreds to thousands, and the in-game broadcast was in English, with a marching band providing entertainment throughout the game and a mini-concert after the seventh inning. The stadium was converted from a cricket field and had a very large infield foul area. Sofas and tables were set up behind a simple protective net to provide special seating for spectators.
There are also some unfamiliar rules of the game that are unique to BUL.
Certain balls are designated as “gold balls” or “money balls,” and the score is doubled. This is exactly what happened in the second exhibition game on the 26th. Sandoval, an East All-Star, hit a home run in the fifth inning with the bases loaded and two outs on a “gold ball” at-bat. It would have been a three-run homer under normal rules, but the special rule allowed for the first ever six-run homer. The score went from 2-2 to 8-2 in an instant.
BUL was founded two years ago by Indian businessman Kesh Shaikh. Born to an Indian father and a Pakistani mother, Shaikh started the organization with the idea of translating the two countries’ love of cricket into baseball.
Throw in some Middle Eastern oil money, and things started to take off. The realization came when CEO Shaikh added Mariano Rivera and Barry Larkin to the management team, and they took on the role of pipeline to Major League Baseball.
Four teams have now been founded, two in the UAE (Dubai Wolves and Abu Dhabi Falcons) and one each in India (Mumbai Cobras) and Pakistan (Karachi Monarchs). Players were selected through a draft last month, with plans to add four more teams in the future. The regular league will begin on November 1 next year. It will last for about two months until December 30, with eight teams playing 65 games each.
Interest is also high among Korean clubs.
LG Twins manager Cha Myung-seok personally visited the region, telling a media outlet, “We may have to go to the Middle East to sign foreign players in the future. First, we plan to watch the showcase and look at the players’ skills and the potential of the level BUL.”
Oil money is not new to global sports. Saudi-sponsored LIV Golf is engaged in a fierce battle for players with the PGA, and Saudi soccer team Al Nasr FC has signed global star Cristiano Ronaldo.