Goalless draw enough for 10-man Al-Nassr to reach last 16 of Asian Champions League

Goalless draw enough for 10-man Al-Nassr to reach last 16 of Asian Champions League
Goalless draw enough for 10-man Al-Nassr to reach last 16 of Asian Champions League

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - : Baseball United, the first-ever professional baseball league focused on the Middle East and Indian subcontinent, officially brought the game to the region for the first time with an entertaining two-match series between its two All-Star teams.

In a weekend full of firsts, the Baseball United East All-Stars swept the series, winning Friday night’s opening game against the West All-Stars 3-2, and Saturday night’s match 9-5.

The teams, whose batters combined for four home runs and six stolen bases during two games, played in front of diverse, family-oriented crowds each night on a custom-made playing field built by Baseball United’s experts on the grounds of Dubai International Stadium.

More than 10,000 people attended the games and Baseball United’s Fan Fest over the two days.

Baseball United chairman, CEO, and majority owner, Kash Shaikh, launched the festivities on the opening night by welcoming fans in the stadium and those watching in more than 120 countries around the world through the league’s broadcast partnerships.

Shaikh then welcomed several of the Major League Baseball legends who serve as co-owners for Baseball United, including Barry Larkin, Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus, Felix Hernandez, Nick Swisher, Robinson Cano, Bartolo Colon, and Robinson Chirinos. Cano, 41, and Colon, 50, also played in the two-game series.

Dr. Tayeb Kamali, representing the Emirates Cricket Board, as the guest of honor threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Local product, Chris Beyers, selected in the Baseball United Draft earlier this year, received the pitch from Kamali.

Shaikh said: “We turned a big dream into a bigger reality. I spent hundreds of nights at that stadium over the past two years, and hundreds more all across this city, trying to help paint the picture of what we could create together. But nothing tells the story better than being able to see it for yourself.

“To have all our local partners, sponsors, and fans all together to finally witness a Baseball United experience – it was incredible.

“I had the opportunity to speak with so many fans from so many countries as I walked around the stadium over the weekend, and all of them had such a great time. That’s what is most important to us. We want families to come for the baseball and stay for the experience,” he added.

The night opened and ended with the national anthems of the UAE, performed by Ahmed Al Hosani, and the US, performed by Julia Cole, followed by a surprise fireworks display.

Baseball United transformed the stadium’s traditional cricket grand lounge into upscale diamond and gold clubs, complete with five-course buffets, carving stations, premium bars, and full renovation to the lounge decor.

Other innovations included on-field VVIP cabanas, which placed fans field-side to watch a baseball game for the first time in history of the region, as well as two giant LED walls that displayed graphics, statistics, and imagery.

Shaikh said: “Building something from nothing is the most difficult and most beautiful thing you can do. And we felt every millimeter of that spectrum during this journey. We were not only bringing a new game to the region for the first time, but we were adding new elements to that game.

“A lot of people questioned if it was possible. So, to see fans loving our cabanas, adults enjoying our diamond club, and, best of all, kids having such close access to our players for autographs and pictures, all of it was amazing.

“And then to cap it all off with a Money Ball Home Run was surreal. I had visualized that moment for a long time, and to see Pablo Sandoval transport the Baseball United Money Ball into sports culture with one great swing – just incredible.

“Building a fan base for a new sport and a new league takes time. But this is how you start. I am so proud of our team and so grateful to our partners, players, and coaches who all worked so hard to make all this possible.

“Thank you to the city of Dubai and all our government partners for giving us an opportunity to show what we can do. There is a bright future for baseball in this region.”

The league is planning for a full season with multiple franchises beginning in November of 2024.

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