Chu Yu-Hsien hits a home run during the opening week of the CPBL 2020 season

Baseball is the Name

This site has always been very forthright in the way that it views baseball. Part of our approach to the game of baseball has been to distinguish that baseball is a sperate term from Major League Baseball. This may seem like a small nit to pick, but it really is a big deal when one takes into account the way the baseball world is constructed. That last sentence takes on a whole different meaning if the person writing it intends for the word baseball to be a stand-in for the term MLB. Everyone writing about baseball needs to realize this and be better about how we use the word baseball.

The reason I’m going back to the “let’s discuss the usage of the word baseball” well is that I have become increasingly frustrated with reading articles that bemoan baseball not being back. Folks, baseball is back, it’s been back for a week now. The Chinese Professional Baseball League started playing games this past week. Real, live, professional baseball games being played by elite athletes that everyone can watch. Baseball is back, and people need to be made aware of that fact.

Every time a writer uses the term baseball to mean MLB they are subverting the word and implying that a league like the CPBL is illegitimate. It doesn’t matter that the CPBL has been around for years, is a big money-making machine, has fans the world over, and is a professional league where baseball is played. What matters is that it’s not MLB. Because it’s not MLB and writers have decided to use the word baseball as a stand-in for MLB that leaves the CPBL as some sort of false baseball.

Not every baseball fan is going to watch or like the CPBL. That’s fine, baseball fans have the freedom to like what baseball they like. The brass tacks of the situation remain that whether you like the league or not the CPBL is baseball. When you write “we miss baseball and who knows when it will be back” you are telling your readers that it’s okay to continue ignoring a league like the CPBL. You’re telling your readers that the CPBL doesn’t count and that every player or team in the league doesn’t exist. More importantly, you’re telling every fan that they are wrong for thinking that the CPBL is baseball.

I get it, using shorthand while writing or engaging in online discussions is something we all do. I use the term baseball all the time. The difference is that I write about every professional league under the sun and moon. There are people who take the approach that baseball is baseball, no matter the league. They don’t allow MLB to have a stranglehold on their attention, wallet, or fandom. Those people aren’t using the term baseball to act like their league is the only league that exists. 

There’s no reason for any quality baseball writer to use baseball as a monolithic term for MLB and MLB alone. Yet, that approach will continue because at the end of the day most baseball writers aren’t baseball fans. There’s nothing wrong with them only really being fans of MLB and affiliated baseball. Just be honest about it is all. Instead of saying you miss baseball or that you don’t know when baseball is coming back, let us know you’re really talking about MLB. The rest of us are enjoying the return of baseball in the form of the CPBL. You don’t have to enjoy along with us, but we really wish you’d stop delegitimizing our enjoyment with every “I miss baseball” article you write.

Lead photo courtesy of Unknown – supchina

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Bill Thompson
Father (human/feline/canine), husband, Paramedic, Socialist, writer Internet Baseball Writers Association of America and Off the Bench Baseball; freelance writer at various online and print publications. Member Internet Baseball Writers Association of America & Society for American Baseball Research.

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