This is essentially a must-click link, though I offer it with the caveat that it is an ESPN Insider piece, so many of you won’t be able to click it. My antipathy toward paywalls aside — and notwithstanding the fact that ESPN’s fortunes do not benefit me whatsoever — I believe that Insider subscription is worth it simply for the Keith Law and Buster Olney content. Law is always great, and Olney — even when I disagree with him — is so thorough and provides so many links to stuff I may not have seen, that he’s worth it too. So if you have the means, you should consider a subscription. Yes, you can throw the magazine away when it comes.
OK, sales pitch aside, Law has a piece up today about the rise of baseball in Europe. Mostly the challenges, actually, as there are all kinds of barriers making it harder for baseball to gain a foothold in Europe like it has in Asia and Latin America. But they are barriers that are slowly being worn down and one day we may start to see a steady flow of baseball players coming from Italy the Netherlands and countries where baseball is even less entrenched now. Law explains the challenges that have to be overcome in order to make that happen.
The biggest takeaway from the article for me is how much more labor intensive it seems to develop baseball talent than, say, basketball or soccer talent. In those sports athleticism can cover for an awful lot of rawness and lack of refinement early on. In baseball — as Law says — athleticism is necessary but not sufficient.
Anyway, a good read for anyone who wonders about where the stars of tomorrow might get their start.