The Australian promoters feel Magic Johnson would be a key selling point for the grand event. Photo: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

The Dodgers Down Under?

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I read an interesting article in the Los Angeles Times co-authored by Dylan Hernandez and Bill Shakin today surrounding  Major League Baseball’s discussions to possibly open the 2014 season in Sydney, Australia. What’s even more intriguing is that the promoters are pushing for the Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks to play their opening set for 2014 down under.

The article includes a quote from MLB spokesman Pat Courtney who stated that they are not

 “exploring the possibility with the Dodgers or any other team to play in Australia.”

A conflicting report in the Sydney Morning Herald cited the Dodgers as the most desired team by the Australians to

Dodger player and Australian Trent Oeltjen just filed for free agency. Photo: Jennifer Hilderbrand-US PRESSWIRE

possibly play in their country. The three-game series against the D-backs would be played at the Sydney Cricket Ground. While the MLB spokesman says otherwise, the Sydney Morning Herald wrote:

The negotiations to bring the Dodgers, owned by National Basketball Association Hall of Famer Johnson, are well advanced and their likely opponents will be the Arizona Diamondbacks for a historic clash at the SCG.”

In fact the article goes on to say that the event has been an ongoing project for “several years.” The identity of the teams have been kept secret. Could the Dodgers be one of the secret teams?

Since writing about the Dodgers, I’ve become aware of many true Blue Dodger fans from Australia. In fact, the same L.A. Times article also quoted the director of the sports marketing firm that is trying to get MLB to agree to a Sydney season opener, Jason Moore who said:

The big picture is to make this Dodger City on the other side of the Pacific.”

The series would be played in March, and the two teams would stay in Sydney for six days. Since the flight to Sydney from Los Angeles is 14 hours, the players’ union would have to agree to the terms.

The D-backs President Derrick Hall said that the team would be interested in such an event since the D-backs have been trying to expand their global brand as of late.

 

The Dodgers’ new ownership has been ramping up its efforts to expand its presence overseas and revamp the team’s international scouting and player development. The GBM already made a big splash by signing Cuban defector Yasiel Puig to a seven-year $42 million contract this summer. The Dodgers have also been in talks with young Japanese pitching phenom Shohei Otani.

The Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics opened the 2012 season by playing a two-game series in Japan in March. The series was dedicated to Japan’s rebuilding efforts after the horrific earthquake and tsunami.

The possible Dodger series could be one of the biggest events in Australia since the Sydney Olympics. I think the idea is outstanding, and I’m all for expanding baseball’s presence throughout the world. After all we are watching the “World” Series as I write this. The Dodgers have always been on the forefront of breaking barriers and forging a new path for baseball. Whether it was signing Jackie Robinson or hiring the first female head athletic trainer Sue Falsone, the Dodgers are an inspiring franchise. The Boys in Blue would be perfect ambassadors for the sport overseas.

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