Taiwan's baseball revival needs more than the WBC
The China Post news staffThe Taiwan national baseball team's better-than-expected performances in the World Baseball Classic (WBC) have won tens of thousands of Taiwanese fans over the past weeks when the nation literally stopped to closely follow every game during the tournament.
March 18, 2013, 12:05 am TWN
The squad, playing under the name of Chinese Taipei, showed strong fighting spirit at the tourney when Taiwan, for the first time, reached the final eight.
Its WBC journey, however, came to end in Tokyo after a heartbreaking 4-3 loss to Japan and a large-margin setback at the hands of Cuba, which was called after 6 1/2 innings because of the 10-run mercy rule.
Despite failing to advance to the final four in the 16-team tourney, Taiwanese passion for the sport of balls and bats was apparently reignited. Almost every game Team Taiwan played in Taichung was greeted by 20,000-strong stadiums full of fans, while millions of people watched every pitch from their TVs at home.
At the conclusion of Taiwan's tour in the WBC, hundreds if not thousands of baseball lovers pledged that they would return to the ballpark to watch local professional baseball league games when the new schedule begins later this month.
After all, the 28-man roster for Chinese Taipei was bolstered by 16 players from the local Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL).
It seems that the upcoming CPBL season is expected to welcome a huge surge in attendance. The league has been losing support for years. The average attendance rate for the past season was less than 2,500, a 20-percent drop compared to the previous year.
The low attendance rate is a huge decline compared to the CPBL's golden age in the 1990s, which could boast an average 6,000 fans per game until a series of game-fixing scandals marred the image of the league and Taiwan baseball as a whole.
The China Post believes it is a good sign that many have predicted a rosier outlook for the CPBL this year with the national squad's eye-catching performance in the WBC.