BASEBALL UNITED: THE NEXT XFL OF BAT AND BALL?

2023-11-26 · 1 min read · Baseball United/Baseball
Bartolo Colon and the Baseball United League

Lydia Springmeyer | Baseball United

Comparing Baseball United to the most recent iteration of the XFL is, perhaps, superficial.
For the masses of baseball fans who haven’t heard about this new league’s incarnation though, there may be no better way of explaining it - particularly in baseball, as leagues are few and far between. The MLB, NPB, KBO, and LMB are likely the first few a fan may think of, excluding the many Independent Ball leagues running up through South America into Canada. Dubai? Well that’s new.
Baseball United is a new professional baseball league centered in the Middle East and South Asia, with the first official event - Baseball United’s Two-Game All-Star Series - taking place in Dubai. Players from the Abu Dhabi Falcons and Dubai Wolves joined forces for the United West Team, while the Karachi Monarchs and Mumbai Cobras formed United East.
Both sides were loaded with ex-MLB organizational talent, with only three of the forty-three All-Stars having never played in the United States. Among those who have, the names are recognizable; Bartolo Colon, Robinson Cano, Andrelton Simmons, Didi Gregorius, and Jair Jurrjens to name a few.
As far as Canadian content goes, two Outfielders and a First Baseman have committed thus far - Jacob Robson (most recently a member of the Team Canada WBC squad), L.P. Pelletier (playing in the Frontier League the past three seasons), and Connor Panas (an ex-Blue Jay draftee) will make their United Baseball debuts in 2024.
Across the board, there is no shortage of ‘hey, I remember that guy!’ as you scroll through the rosters of each of the four inaugural teams - a healthy reminder that for many, the end of one’s MLB tenure does not mean the end of their baseball life. A perfect example of such is the aforementioned Colon - at 50 years old, he chucked three innings of two-run ball while striking out three in a United East win.
However, it’s not just ex-organizational talent from North America that’s flocked to the Middle East, United Baseball is attempting to be a gateway for players outside of baseball-rich countries to make a name for themselves against high-end competition. Raul Shah is a 30-year old Outfielder from Chatham, UK, who’s highest level of ball was in the Pioneer league in 2021 - he’s now playing alongside Andrelton Simmons, one year removed from Major League Baseball. Christiaan Beyers, a 28-year old Infielder from Secunda, South Africa, and Vincent Ahrens, a 29-year old Catcher from Cologne, Germany, will be alongside Didi Gregorius. And perhaps my favourite of the bunch, righty Konsta Kurikka out of Mikkeli, Finland will be tossing to Swedish backstop Leo Backstrom.
Alongside current players, retirees Barry Larkin, Adrian Beltre, Felix Hernandez and Nick Swisher are all honorary GM’s while Mariano Rivera - yes, that Mariano Rivera - is a co-owner of the league and Albert Pujols - yes, that Albert Pujols - is an ambassador.
Game 2 of the All-Star Event will take place on November 25th, with starters yet to be determined. Baseball United’s first regular season is expected to kickoff sometime in 2024, with the details surrounding scheduling not yet announced.
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By: Gus Cousins

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