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Real baseball

MLB wants you to believe they are the only professional baseball in existence. Don’t buy into that lie, there are professional leagues the world over worth checking out.

Fubon Guardians v CTBC Brothers - CPBL Photo by Gene Wang/Getty Images

The above tweet is innocuous enough if you are someone who has only ever been exposed to Major League Baseball as your source of professional baseball entertainment. For the rest of the world it is yet another instance of MLB propagating the idea that they are baseball and anything else is a fake imitation. There are those who likely celebrate such a notion, but if you love baseball you really shouldn’t.

Ever since social media has been a thing, MLB has engaged in a form of it where they put forth the idea that they are all there is to baseball. At least that is true on a professional level, though there are days when it seems like MLB uses their social media arm to mean all of baseball. It’s easy to gloss over MLB’s continued insistence that they are the only game in town, but that doesn’t mean we should.

There is a wide world of baseball the world over that people enjoy. Professional baseball is a global game with upwards of 30 leagues in operation year-round, give or take a few. Professional baseball is played every single month in the calendar year. There are maybe a handful of days a year where a baseball fan would be unable to find a pro game to stream from somewhere. This has been the case for a few years now and to be frank, MLB is threatened by the idea of people finding their baseball elsewhere.

To be clear, there isn’t an unaffiliated league in the world that poses an actual threat to MLB. The largest of all the unaffiliated leagues is Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball (consisting of the Central, Pacific, Eastern, and Western Leagues). Even at their largest, they pose no threat to MLB and it’s doubtful they ever could. They, along with other pro leagues all over the globe, simply offer up more baseball.

The threat isn’t from the outside, rather it is a threat that MLB has created in its own mind’s eye. You see, MLB has long clung to the idea that they are the end-all and be-all of baseball.

In order for that to be true that means they must take a stance wherein all other leagues are inferior. Beyond that, those leagues can’t truly be acknowledged as being legitimate baseball. By framing MLB as “real” baseball the idea is further pushed into people’s heads that any other pro league they come across is some sort of fake baseball not meant to be taken seriously.

What is so odd about MLB’s stance is that there isn’t a fan of unaffiliated baseball I have ever met who believes that the level of play in those leagues is on par with that of MLB. They recognize that MLB is on a different level, but to them baseball is baseball, simple as that. It’s not that they are turning to the American Association because they think the level of play is better than MLB. Rather, they are turning to that league because they want more baseball. Specifically, they want more baseball that is some combination of local to them, affordable, fun, and easily available to watch.

There’s no reason for MLB to have waged a slight social media campaign against the unaffiliated leagues. No reason other than hubris that is. To the unaffiliated leagues, there is no competition. They are offering up their particular brand of baseball as a way for baseball fans to supplement their already existing MLB fandom. They aren’t trying to replace MLB, but exist right alongside MLB for fans to enjoy. MLB can’t even allow this, they must have all of the baseball pie. That’s why you get posts about the return of real baseball that ignores all the other professional baseball that has been taking place.

MLB is the king of the baseball mountain, but they aren’t all there is to baseball. They want you to believe they are, but they aren’t. Baseball is an amazing game; there isn’t a professional league throughout the world that isn’t fun to watch. The beauty of baseball is that both the highest level league and the lowest level league are playing the same game and providing those watching with a conduit to the sport they love. MLB lost sight of that fact long ago, but don’t let their ignorance affect you. There’s plenty of other real baseball out there in the world for you to enjoy.