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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Baseball: All-stars shine light on Taiwan mob rule

Despite Taiwan’s ardent love for the game, its China Professional Baseball League (CPBL) has been struggling, in large measure because of the influence of the underworld and its intimidation, gambling and game-fixing.

According to experts, the MLB all-star series, which the visitors wrapped up 5-0 on Sunday having drawn tens of thousands of fans, highlighted the huge gap between American baseball and the management of the sport in Taiwan.

“I don’t understand the point of this MLB tour,” said Andrew Morris, a Taiwan expert at California Polytechnic State University, who has written a book about Taiwanese baseball.

“It’s not going to make the locals more interested in the domestic product. It will just show the divide between the two games and remind fans how seedy and violent Taiwan baseball is.”

Since pro-ball began in Taiwan in 1990, there have been five game-fixing scandals, four of them in the last seven years.

With each one seemingly more lurid than the last, attendances have plummeted from an average 7,000 fans a game in the late 1990s to a few thousand today.

Accounts of the scandals read like the plot of a Hollywood gangster movie. For players who were resistant to being bought off with money, cars, drugs or prostitutes, things got very ugly, very fast.

What wasn’t mentioned during the MLB tour of the Beautiful Island.

Gamingboy Posted: November 10, 2011 at 03:35 PM | 28 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: international

Reader Comments and Retorts

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Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Don Geovany Soto (chris h.) Posted: November 10, 2011 at 05:17 PM (#3990266)
Nobody ever tries to buy off a network engineer with money, cars, or hookers.
   2. DL from MN Posted: November 10, 2011 at 06:30 PM (#3990342)
Shouldn't be anything Drew Butera isn't used to seeing after hanging out with Carl Pavano.
   3. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: November 10, 2011 at 07:15 PM (#3990384)
“It’s not going to make the locals more interested in the domestic product. It will just show the divide between the two games and remind fans how seedy and violent Taiwan baseball is.”
The locals are going to see Jeff Mathis and think their league has big league-quality players.
   4. Swedish Chef Posted: November 10, 2011 at 07:24 PM (#3990389)
Nobody ever tries to buy off a network engineer with money, cars, or hookers

Nah, they know that you will sell the router passwords for a carton of unopened M:tG packs. No need to get expensive.
   5. Bourbon Samurai in Asia Posted: November 10, 2011 at 07:36 PM (#3990403)
I have been DVRing the games off mlb network and watching them. the fans seem to be quite engaged.
   6. AROM Posted: November 10, 2011 at 07:39 PM (#3990408)
and in 2008, a notorious mob boss, known as “The Windshield Wiper”, bought a franchise with the sole intention of throwing games for profit.


If this was generally known, I don't understand how anyone would ever bet ON his team. And there goes any potential profit from throwing games. Seems the only way to make that pay off is if you throw games in a sport where people believe things are on the level.

Next time I go in the batting cage, I'll bet you $100 that I miss the first pitch. Any takers?
   7. Bob Evans Posted: November 10, 2011 at 07:43 PM (#3990413)
If this was generally known, I don't understand how anyone would ever bet ON his team.

If this came to light, you could get better odds on your team to win. So, like, maybe he's playing a double game.
   8. Fly should without a doubt be number !!!!! Posted: November 10, 2011 at 07:44 PM (#3990415)
This is why Pete Rose can never be allowed back in baseball.
   9. Sunday silence Posted: November 10, 2011 at 08:01 PM (#3990439)
Seems the only way to make that pay off is if you throw games in a sport where people believe things are on the level.


I think that's how it works generally, yes.
   10. danup Posted: November 10, 2011 at 09:24 PM (#3990544)
"Are you telling me that you bet on the fight in Rocky III, and you bet against Rocky?"

"Hindsight is 20-20, my friend."
   11. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: November 10, 2011 at 09:36 PM (#3990559)
"Are you telling me that you bet on the fight in Rocky III, and you bet against Rocky?"

"Hindsight is 20-20, my friend."


Hey, Rocky lost, pay up.
   12. Nasty Nate Posted: November 10, 2011 at 09:44 PM (#3990574)
How can you get enough action to make game-fixing profitable in this kind of situation?
   13. Swedish Chef Posted: November 10, 2011 at 09:58 PM (#3990594)
How can you get enough action to make game-fixing profitable in this kind of situation?

Chinese "businessmen" took over the Finnish soccer club AC Allianssi, which then lost a game 0-8 and promptly folded, if you can bet enough on one game of Finnish soccer in Asia to make it worthwhile to take over a club, it's not hard to believe that you can bet an order of magnitude or two more on a local event. Then add the possibility of keeping the charade going for more games.
   14. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: November 10, 2011 at 11:03 PM (#3990656)
I'm sure this is an exaggerated stereotype, but don't Asians (or at least Chinese people) love gambling?
   15. Yonder Alonso in misguided trousers (cardinal) Posted: November 10, 2011 at 11:17 PM (#3990664)
"Are you telling me that you bet on the fight in Rocky III, and you bet against Rocky?"

"Hindsight is 20-20, my friend."

Reminded me of this:

"Let me get this straight: you took all the money you made franchising your name and bet it against the Harlem Globetrotters?"

"I thought the Generals were due!"
   16. Swedish Chef Posted: November 10, 2011 at 11:21 PM (#3990667)
I'm sure this is an exaggerated stereotype, but don't Asians (or at least Chinese people) love gambling?

Hong Kong Jockey Club

"The HKJC conducts nearly 700 horse races per year at its two race tracks at Sha Tin and Happy Valley. During the 2001/02 racing season, the HKJC licensed 1,144 horse owners, 24 trainers and 35 jockeys and had 1,435 horses in training.

In 2002–2003, the betting turnover was HK$71 billion. After paying dividends of 58 billion and betting duty of 9.5 billion, its betting commission revenue was HK$3.9 billion. It contributes 11.7% of Hong Kong's tax revenue. Surpluses from its operation are allocated to the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust."
   17. I am going to be Frank Posted: November 11, 2011 at 12:28 AM (#3990724)
Macau has outstripped the Vegas Strip in revenues for quite some time now.

Tiger Want was the biggest celebrity on the island for a while (now its the female Taiwanese golfer). Last time I was there McDonald's had a whole series of trading cards that they were using as giveaways - I guess part of happy meals.
   18. Bourbon Samurai in Asia Posted: November 11, 2011 at 12:37 AM (#3990740)
The new sands casino in singapore is mind boggling. I took a tour there and they told me they had seven thousand full time employees.
   19. RollingWave Posted: November 11, 2011 at 03:45 AM (#3990885)

and in 2008, a notorious mob boss, known as “The Windshield Wiper”, bought a franchise with the sole intention of throwing games for profit.

this is putting two stories together, Windshield Wiper is the latest scandal's mastermind but he didn't actually own the teams, what happened was that one of the teams a few years back was up for sales and a young guy (he was under 30 IIRC) no one ever heard of backed by a company that no one's ever heard of (or is clear what busniess they're actually into) tried to buy the team... obviously that drew massive suspicion and the deal fell through and the team folded.

The real issue with Taiwan and baseball fixing is the simple problem that players aren't paid nearly enough, the vast vast majority of them barely makes more money than a above average salary man (and Taiwan's salary in US dollar terms is very low for a developed country) with a career expectency of under 10 years and no other serious marketable skills once they retire (we joke that most of them end up selling Chicken Stakes ... which is actually only half joking since many of them can't even do that.). in this sort of situation it's not hard to see why they'd be interested to throw games.

There's also no formal agent system (since most don't make enough to hire one anyway) and the vast vast vast majority of the players come from fairly poor backgrounds, which only makes matter worse as most of them aren't exactly good money managers, even Chin Hui Tsao, who made quite a major fortune by Taiwan's baseball player's standard, is rumored to now be in financial strait just a couple years after leaving the game (he's widely rumored to basically pay for everyone's bill at every meal he go to and "view money as a pile of dung" in the Chinese proverbial sense..)
   20. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: November 11, 2011 at 04:06 AM (#3990899)
[T]he vast vast vast majority of the players come from fairly poor backgrounds, which only makes matter worse as most of them aren't exactly good money managers, even Chin Hui Tsao, who made quite a major fortune by Taiwan's baseball player's standard, is rumored to now be in financial strait just a couple years after leaving the game (he's widely rumored to basically pay for everyone's bill at every meal he go to and "view money as a pile of dung" in the Chinese proverbial sense..)


I don't see how this makes them different from pro athletes in the US. The bankruptcy numbers for players 5 years out of MLB/NBA/NFL are ludicrously high.

edit: And it's not like minor league baseball players are paid diddly, either.
   21. vortex of dissipation Posted: November 11, 2011 at 08:24 AM (#3991042)
Tiger Wang was the biggest celebrity on the island for a while (now its the female Taiwanese golfer). Last time I was there McDonald's had a whole series of trading cards that they were using as giveaways - I guess part of happy meals.


Shaoxing Opera: "Tiger Wang Kidnapping a Woman to Be His Wife"
   22. Richard Posted: November 11, 2011 at 08:34 AM (#3991043)
Macau has outstripped the Vegas Strip in revenues for quite some time now.

There are limits on the number of times a year PRC citizens can visit Macau, presumably to stop all the money in China disappearing into the pockets of Adelson and Wynn.

Macau is an odd place.
   23. Athletic Supporter can feel the slow rot Posted: November 11, 2011 at 09:02 AM (#3991045)
This is why Pete Rose can never be allowed back in baseball.


You know what just occurred to me? What if Pete Rose has a bet AGAINST his getting into the Hall of Fame (say, on a yearly basis)? Wouldn't that be awesome?
   24. Sunday silence Posted: November 11, 2011 at 09:07 AM (#3991046)
Did it ever occur to anyone that those Little Leaguers weren't twelve years old? Seriously, I know they've got it more under control now, but back in the 70s. Those kids were ridiculous. No one on TV ever said anything.
   25. Don Geovany Soto (chris h.) Posted: November 11, 2011 at 03:20 PM (#3991096)
Nah, they know that you will sell the router passwords for a carton of unopened M:tG packs. No need to get expensive.

That is an unfair cliche! I don't even play Magic: the Gathering!

Now if we were talking game time cards for Star Trek Online or something, then...OK, yeah.
   26. Jorge Luis Bourjos (Walewander) Posted: November 26, 2011 at 05:38 PM (#4001232)

Did it ever occur to anyone that those Little Leaguers weren't twelve years old? Seriously, I know they've got it more under control now, but back in the 70s. Those kids were ridiculous. No one on TV ever said anything.


Some of them weren't 12, no, but IIRC the real issue was that Taiwan sent all-star teams made up of the best players from all over the island. Playing in Isolation is a very interesting book about the history of baseball in Taiwan.

When I lived there, I was just a few blocks from the President Lions stadium and used to go regularly. Taiwanese baseball is unique, fun, and fascinating and I hope their game thrives again soon.
   27. J. Lowenstein Apathy Club Posted: November 26, 2011 at 06:56 PM (#4001260)
I'll add my thumbs-up to Walewander's for Playing In Isolation which gives a very succinct view of what happened with the Little League World Series teams.
   28. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: November 26, 2011 at 07:08 PM (#4001264)
With each one seemingly more lurid than the last, attendances have plummeted from an average 7,000 fans a game in the late 1990s to a few thousand today.
Wouldn't 7,000 be considered "a few thousand?"

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