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Sunday, June 06, 2004

Draft alert!

No, not that draft. Today is major league baseball's amateur draft.

And teams face an interesting, 9/11-related, globalization dilemma.

Basically, baseball franchises face a shortage of certain kinds of work visas for foreigners looking to find positions in the US. In Canada, home to a number of good amateur baseball prospects, this is a noteworthy problem::
Up until this year getting the required visa - an H2B visa, issued to a wide variety of seasonal workers - hadn't been an issue. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services issue up to 66,000 of them per year, usually more than enough.

But growth in the tourism and landscaping industries has led to increased demand for H2Bs and last year the United States granted 13,000 over its quota. Amid the security-conscious environment post September 11th, the government vowed to be more vigilant in keeping tabs on the number of visas handed out.

This year the limit was met March 10 and the State Department said no more would be available for 2004.
I should note that this does not immediately affect Latin American players (who face their own problems) since they are not subject to baseball's amateur draft.

While only about a quarter of major leaguers are non-US born, nearly half of all minor league players are foreign. So this is a big deal because drafted players virtually always start their careers in the minors:
The quota on the visa foreigners require to play minor-league ball in the United States has already been met for 2004, meaning Canucks chosen Monday and Tuesday won't be able to start their pro careers down south this season. That has some clubs rethinking their draft-day plans when it comes to Canadians...
This 9/ll problem has been bubbling for a long time:
Major league teams began making their applications for 2004 visas last October and it's a good thing they got started early. The 30 teams received a total of 1,236 H2Bs and had they not been on the ball, their foreign minor-league prospects might have been forced to sit out the season (there was never a threat to foreign big-leaguers, who receive P1 visas reserved for elite athletes and entertainers).
Sure, it's not high priority news, but it is interesting to me...and security-related.

Plus, you know, I taught a course on "Globalization and Baseball" just last fall.

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