Back in 2019 the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox were sent by teleporter to London for what was supposed to be the first of two MLB World Tour: London Series trips. The second trip was supposed to be between the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs in 2020 but was delayed to this weekend because of the COVID-19 virus.
Much like the Field of Dreams game which was played the last two seasons the MLB World Tour: London Series is something the league thought up to help market Major League Baseball overseas to attract fans and athletes alike.
Generally speaking these ideas are slightly different though. The idea behind the Field of Dreams Game was originally to have that be “call up” weekend for top prospects. While there are many reasons it did not become that that directly relate to the structure of the schedule the biggest one according to my research that did not happen the last two years and likely never will is the trajectory of when top prospects become ready to be called up is different based on the philosophy each team has as it relates to how to run the baseball operations.
The MLB World Tour: London Series is something the league is testing out to bring more attention to baseball as a sport as a result of MLB players not being able to participate in the Olympics the way players in the NBA, and NHL are able to. It is likely that the first few yearly series will involve at least one original and/or big market team. Next year the MLB World Tour will rerun to London in the form of a two game set between the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets.
Teams have not been picked for the 2026 London Series yet and the MLB World Tour will take a small detour and Paris will host a two game set in 2025. Also, MLB is still working on another World Tour stop in Seoul, South Korea to open the regular season over there in an upcoming year, possibly 2024. (although that is sounding more and more unlikely).
Let’s get into the nitty gritty of both these ideas because both are wonderful ideas to draw attention to the game of baseball which has always been known as the “American” form of the game Cricket. The Field of Dreams game as an idea was great until the field in Dyersville, IA was closed down at the end of last summer for a huge renovation project causing the league to take this year off from having a Field of Dreams game.
When those renovations were announced it seem, to me as a fan, like the idea was dead in the water after two games were played at the neutral site in 2021 and 2022. However, the league has teamed of with Rickwood Field in Birmingham, AL. For fans, like me, who know the history of baseball we know that this was the field where MLB great Willie Mays, who is still with us as I write this, played as a teenager. Which only makes it fitting that the San Francisco Giants, the team he eventually signed with after his Negro League days, will play the Cardinals there in 2024. I sure hope Rob Manfred finds a way to keep this game as a yearly marketing piece.
Now, for the MLB World Tour. While it is about the lack of having MLB players be able to play in the Olympics I still love this idea from because it helps to bring attention to foreign athletes who might be considering coming to the United States for their college education and would help many of those athletes build more of a permanent life here in the states while getting their education.
The World Baseball Classic which was initiated in 2005 was the leagues first attempt to think different for marketing purposes. Personally, I never liked the idea of doing it during spring training though and I would not be surprised if it gets eventually gets moved to be after the World Series and is played entirely in a warmer climate possibly even overseas. What the league is doing with the MLB World Tour and the Field of Dreams game is likely to increase viewership especially with the recent rule changes that have been made that are helping to shorten games.
With that… it is time to play ball in London.
If you cannot play with them, root for them!