A general view of play during Day One of the Second Test between Pakistan and Sri Lanka at Dubai International Cricket Ground on October 6, 2017 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The stadium will host Baseball United’s Dubai Showcase in November. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)
By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
After taking stock of recent world events, Baseball United has changed plans for its’ first event, the Dubai Showcase, moving the event to November 24-25 and changing the format to a pair of All-Star games at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
The event will follow Baseball United’s inaugural draft, which will be held on Monday, October 23, at 9 a.m. EDT, with the event streaming on the league’s website and social media pages. The Baseball United Draft was supposed to be held last month in Cincinnati during the next few weeks prior to the start of the All-Star game showcase.
Baseball United is the first professional baseball league located in the Middle East and Indian subcontinent.
The All-Star teams will be named “Baseball United East” and “Baseball United West.” The start times of the two All-Star games have yet to be announced.
With a total of 44 professional players participating in Baseball United’s first event, at least 75 percent of the selected players will have Major League Baseball experience. Baseball United will announce the All-Star rosters on Wednesday, October 25.
The league will stock the teams with players from international professional leagues, players with experience in the lower minor leagues in the U.S., and independent league players, as well as potentially developing players from the countries where the league places franchises.
Baseball United’s goal is to grow the sport to two billion people across India, Pakistan, and the Middle East, an area with nearly one billion cricket fans. Baseball United hopes to have franchises in South Asia in countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, and the Maldives.
Baseball United’s franchises will also be located in Gulf Cooperation Council member nations and south Asia. The GCC countries include the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The franchise locations will be announced in the league’s foreseeable future along with hiring major staff officials that will be part of the league’s success.
Former MLB player and World Series Champion Nick Swisher will be the honorary general manager for the Abu Dhabi Falcons franchise with Dennis Cook as their manager.
The Abu Dhabi Falcons and the Dubai Wolves were the final two organizations announced on August 3 at the Baseball United press conference held in Dubai. Baseball United plans to expand the league further next season.
The Dubai Wolves will have former Major Leaguer Felix Hernandez as their honorary general manager and former Major League manager John McClaren will be at the helm during the league’s first season.
Former Major Leaguer Chris Sabo will manage the Mumbai Cobras, and Miguel Tejada will manage the Karachi Monarchs in the league’s first season. Former Major Leaguer Adrian Beltre will be the honorary general manager for the Karachi Monarchs and Hall of Famer Barry Larkin will be the honorary general manager for the Mumbai Cobras.
Baseball United will be set to have a full regular season during next winter from 2024-25.
According to Baseball United’s website, “Tickets for the Baseball United All-Star Showcase will go on sale Thursday, October 19th, with special “early bird” pricing in place for the first seven days. To purchase tickets, fans can visit baseballunited.com/tickets, or purchase directly via the league’s ticketing partner, Platinumlist. Early bird tickets start at 49 AED ($13) for Outfield Boxes and 199 AED ($54) for luxury Diamond Club seats behind Home Plate.”
According to the Baseball United website, the league is “working hard to bring baseball, music, and entertainment together in a fun, family-friendly environment. There will be a price point for everyone, with great seats available across the transformed ‘ballpark.’ And everyone who attends will become a part of history, as we bring professional baseball here to the Middle East and South Asia for the first time,” Baseball United President and CEO Kash Shaikh stated.
Baseball United will have a fan fest event that will be free to the public outside Dubai International Stadium.
“Brands, partners, and vendors will be on hand providing baseball-related experiences and activities, as well as various other sports and music activities. Food and drinks will also be available,” the league’s website stated.
Baseball United will also plan on having an opening and closing ceremonies and will announce more conclusive details in the upcoming weeks.
The two All-Star games will be streamed live on the Baseball United website, Facebook and YouTube pages. Baseball United is currently working on deals with tv sports networks across Asia.
World Baseball Network will have a special “Baseball Without Borders” podcast episode with Editor-In-Chief Leif Skodnick interviewing Kash Shaikh on Wednesday, October 25 about the logistics of switching the dates for the showcase event alongside the best interests of the league’s stakeholders on this decision. The podcast episode will be posted on October 25, and will be available on Apple Podcasts and other platforms.