As expected, Major League Baseball has announced that it is taking its show across the Atlantic to the United Kingdom next year. The Yankees and Red Sox will play a two-game set on June 29th and June 30th at London Stadium, the facility that hosted the 2012 Olympics.
This initiative is the latest in a line of MLB overseas adventures, but the first that is located in Europe. Previously, the league has held regular season contests in Japan, Mexico, and Australia. (Additionally, games have been held on U.S. territory in locales that lack MLB franchises, with recent events in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and Fort Bragg, North Carolina.) That’s all in addition to the World Baseball Classic.
It’s not surprising that the league has first focused on other international markets. The game of baseball has a greater foothold, of course, in Asia and Latin America. That’s not to say that it’s completely unknown in Europe, though. Those interested in learning more about Euroball may enjoy listening to the MLBTR Podcast episode on the topic, featuring subject matter expert Josh Chetwynd, from a few years back.
International engagement is hardly a new concept in baseball or other professional sports, of course. Even the NFL has recently been holding games in London of late. But staging games that actually count in the standings is a relatively more challenging undertaking — and one that was specifically contemplated in the most recent collective bargaining agreement. That’s particularly true for baseball, with its intense travel schedule and near-daily games.