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Bloody Hell: Baseball in London

July 1, 2019

 

In the American Revolution, the “Yanks” rose up against the tyranny of the “Red Coats” and leapt out on their own, forging their own horizon, creating the amber waves of grain and purple mountains majesty that we know and love today. 

 

Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning was a historical reenactment, in this case the Yankees mercilessly pummeled the Red Sox pitching staff to grab an almost insurmountable stranglehold on the American League East. (And all the amber waves of whatever.)

These were the first major league games played in “Jolly Olde England” and I hope, at least as far as the “Olde Towne Teame” is concerned, the last. I understand the idea of trying to grow your game, the crowds over the weekend were fantastic but that could be contributed to the fact that they were treated to something that resembled baseball but scored like the American football that they have become very familiar with. 

 

Look, this is a territory that the NFL has already claimed, remember when it was a once a year treat to have Sunday Morning football? Now, I think Jacksonville has played more dates at Wembley in the last decade than Sir Paul McCartney. 

 

“If you build it, they will come.” Field of Dreams, 1989. But if Roy Kinsella decided to build a replica of Kaufman Stadium from the George Brett-era in that Iowa cornfield, there wouldn’t have been 6 cars lined up down the road and that smug Timothy Busfield would have been right. Kaufman for years was known as the “House of Horrors” for the Red Sox. 

 

Year after Yaz led year, the Red Sox would march their loaded roaster in KC and get turned away winless after 3 days of slap bunts, steals and weird carpet skips from the likes of Amos Otis, Willie Wilson and Clint Hurdle. So Major League Baseball spent 23-days building a temporary ballfield in a giant soccer (I’m guessing) stadium that has all the charm of (not to mention shag carpeting) of your Aunt Irene’s house.

 

What really backfired on MLB, which in theory was a fine bit of one-upsmanship over their NFL counterparts is that baseball sent over a tremendous match up. One thing the NFL has annually done with their London games is send over matchups that only feature implications as it pertains to fantasy football. The aforementioned Jaguars are great in London, Blake Bortles plays like an MVP “over the pond”. It would be a fun exercise to try and explain to a Brit why Blake Bortles is now a backup quarterback in Los Angeles. MLB’s heart was in the right place sending the most legendary rivalry in all of sports to London, but if I may quote Hamlet “ay, there’s the rub.” 

 

The biggest problem baseball is having in America is pace, games are much too long. So Commissioner Rob Manfred sent the Red Sox and the Yankees over, who play games longer than the Hundred Years War, to help grow the game of baseball. I’m convinced this was a 2 game series because they knew time wise, it would equal 3 games. Sunday’s game clocked in at rapid 4 hours, 24 minutes which seems like a cup of tea when compared to Saturday’s marathon of 4 hours, 42 minutes and its hour and 5 minute first inning. 

 

Quite the beginning, that’d be like Queen opening with Bohemian Rhapsody. 

 

But to a country that once played a 9 day Cricket match, what’s 9 hours of baseball?

 

We’ll see. 

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