Contact Form

    News Details

    Dodgers depart for South Korea and opportunity to expand the brand
    • March 14, 2024

    GLENDALE, Ariz. — They are missionaries, spreading the gospel of Major League Baseball.

    For the second time in the past 11 seasons, the Dodgers will open the regular season with games on a different continent. In 2014, they played the first MLB games in Australia, starting their season with two games at the Sydney Cricket Grounds.

    This year, they will play the first regular-season MLB games in South Korea, facing the San Diego Padres twice next week at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul.

    In between, they played regular-season games in Monterrey, Mexico (May 2018). The franchise actually has a long history of international travel. They made a five-game tour of Taiwan and Japan in 1993, played a historic exhibition game in Beijing, China in March 2008 and visited Taiwan again in 2010.

    “This is an exciting part of baseball’s effort to expand our reach globally, internationally,” Dodgers team president Stan Kasten said. “As you know we have a lot of different teams going all over the globe. We went to Australia in 2014. Teams go to London every year now, Mexico every year now. This year, we’re also going to have programs in India, France, the DR (Dominican Republic). We’re also going to have games in the DR. It’s all part of that effort. All teams have opportunities. We were lucky enough to be selected for this.”

    Yeah, lucky. Or maybe MLB just recognizes the international appeal of the Dodgers brand. And that brand has only become more powerful globally – particularly in Asia, where new Dodgers Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto are tremendously popular.

    “I just think MLB is going to use that. I think the Dodgers are going to use that,” said pitcher Clayton Kershaw, one of only two players from those Australia games still in a Dodgers uniform (though he won’t be making the trip to South Korea). Miguel Rojas made the trip in 2014 but didn’t play in either game.

    “Obviously there’s a lot of financial incentives involved and all that so it makes a lot of sense. I don’t think us as players have to do anything different. But now with Ohtani and Yamamoto, these guys are like Taylor Swift in Japan. We become a bigger deal because we’re associated with them. It just means there’s a lot more eyes on us from different parts of the world – which is cool.”

    Speculation has already started that the Dodgers will be making a trip to Tokyo in the near future, bringing Ohtani and Yamamoto back home for a visit.

    “If they do that, it’ll be like traveling with a rock group. It will be,” Kershaw said. “It’ll be an experience. It’ll be something.”

    Kasten said the Dodgers knew about the trip to South Korea two years in advance, allowing for all of the necessary planning. Earlier this year, Sadayuki Sakakibara, the commissioner of NPB (Japan’s professional league) reportedly confirmed that the league is already in discussions with MLB about bringing a series to Tokyo in 2025. There is also speculation about games at the new stadium in Sapporo, home to the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters.

    “We do not know that,” Kasten said when asked if the Dodgers would be going to Japan next year. “I don’t have any expectations of that.”

    Games in the 55,000-seat Tokyo Dome would be a far cry from the Gocheok Sky Dome, which seats less than 17,000.

    “I’ve heard the stadium we’re playing in only seats 16 or 18,000 but it sounds like 40,000,” third baseman Max Muncy said.

    “Everyone cheers for baseball differently. You look just here in the United States. Our fans cheer different than a St. Louis Cardinals fan versus the New York Yankees fans. Every fan base is different. It’s just fun to experience. This is going to be something that I don’t think any of us has ever experienced before, with the exception of maybe one or two.”

    The Dodgers and Padres are each sacrificing a home game from their schedule – games that would have drawn far more than 16,000 fans. But MLB makes sure they don’t sacrifice anything financially.

    The players, meanwhile, face the challenges of a compressed spring training and playing games that count a full week before anyone else – not to mention jet lag after a 14-hour flight there (and 12 hours back). As they did before the trip to Australia, the Dodgers have had a sleep specialist working with the players to prepare them.

    “There’s nothing you can do. It’s a long flight,” Kershaw said, recalling the Australia trip. “It’s kind of tough – jet lag and all that stuff. The only good thing now is they’re not trying to build pitchers up to throw – like, I threw 100-and-some pitches (in his Australia start). (Arizona Diamondbacks starter Patrick) Corbin threw seven innings in a spring training game and wound up having Tommy John. I don’t think they’re naive enough to think that’s a good idea now.”

    Kershaw did indeed throw 102 pitches over 6⅔ innings in Australia. A week later, he went on the injured list for the first time in his career with a strained muscle in the back of his throwing shoulder. He missed a month – then went on to win both the National League Cy Young and MVP awards.

    This time around, the Dodgers’ two starters (Tyler Glasnow and Yamamoto) are not expected to pitch more than four or five innings.

    Related Articles

    Los Angeles Dodgers |

    2024 Dodgers preview: Expectations, Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto

    Los Angeles Dodgers |

    Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Dodgers lose to Mariners in Cactus League finale

    Los Angeles Dodgers |

    Dodgers’ Walker Buehler: ‘I just want to be good and win’

    Los Angeles Dodgers |

    Dodgers’ new shortstop Mookie Betts: ‘I really believe I can do it, I trust I can do it’

    Los Angeles Dodgers |

    Tyler Glasnow takes no-hitter into 6th inning as Dodgers beat Giants

    “I’m looking forward to it,” outfielder James Outman said of the trip, adding that he’s “down for that” if a trip to Tokyo next year happens. “I haven’t really been out of the country. So I’m looking forward to that, seeing a different culture and seeing baseball in a different country. I know it’s huge over there. I’m looking forward to experiencing it there.”

    Outman and his teammates have other reasons to be excited. MLB will make it worth their while. Players who participate in “jewel events” like the Seoul Series are eligible for a bonus of $70,000 each.

    “It’s a country that I would probably never go to visit on my own – which is what makes this so exciting,” said Muncy, who was one of the Dodgers who traveled to Dubai in 2019 as part of the Dodgers’ partnership with the airline Emirates.

    “It’s an opportunity to go somewhere that I probably wouldn’t go otherwise. It’s not that I don’t want to go there. It’s just I would never have a reason to go. So it’ll be super exciting to see just a different place in the world. At the same time, it is the season and we have to play regular-season games and prepare to play.”

    ​ Orange County Register