A big welcome back to the Baseball Brit, Joey Mellows…
Major League Baseball is coming to the UK! The London Series has been officially scheduled for June 29th & 30th in 2019 and this has sent die hard MLB UK fans into an unparalleled state of ecstasy and relentless tweeting.
This article hopes to build on the strong relationships forged between the USA and UK in recent weeks by attempting to link the titans of America’s pastime with their football (or soccer, if you must insist) equivalents.
Feel free to light up the comments section with your own suggestions/indignation and share among any friends or work colleagues who have shown, even a passing, interest in baseball since the announcement.
Baltimore Orioles = Hull City
Baltimore and Hull are two unfashionable cities that have a lot more going on than people realise. Hull won the UK City of Culture in 2017 and host a team that play in orange, in a city on the east coast, with a port. Baltimore was the backdrop for ‘The Wire’, one of the most critically acclaimed TV series of recent decades, and hosts a team that often play in orange, on the east coast, with a port. Neither team are very good right now.
Boston Red Sox = Liverpool
This one is an absolute lock. Both teams have an esteemed history, a coastal location, a distinct local accent, and have a number of Irish fans. John W. Henry is the principal owner of both teams and they share a red and white colour scheme. The Red Sox will be one of the two sides heading to the UK for the London Series in 2019. Mookie Betts is the Sox equivalent of Mo Salah.
New York Yankees = Manchester United
The Evil Empire and the Red Devils align closely. No team has more World Series wins than the Yankees and no team has won the league title more than Manchester United. They have millions of followers worldwide and are hated and revered in equal measure. George Steinbrenner ruled with an iron fist rather like Sir Alex Ferguson, despite their differing roles. The ‘local’ rivalry with the Red Sox and Liverpool respectively also makes this a no brainer. The Yankees will be the away side for the two London Series games. (It is ironic that the Yankees actually have a partnership with the other Manchester side – City – Ed.)
Tampa Bay Rays = MK Dons
The MK Dons (Fake Plastic FC – Ed.) have only existed since 2004 – an unusually short time for an English football side. Their biggest successes include winning the Football League Trophy, developing a young Dele Alli and formerly embarrassing the big boys as Wimbledon FC. The Tampa Bay Rays (previously Devil Rays) were also formed recently, in 1998, and had just one winning season in the their first ten years as a club. They are the youngest team in the American League, suffer from being compared to their loftier divisional rivals, and are seen as an unfashionable team in an unpopular area. Sound familiar?
Toronto Blue Jays = Cardiff City
The Blue Jays are the only team in Major League Baseball from outside the USA. They play in blue and have a loyal and vociferous fan base due to being based in Canada’s largest city. Likewise, Cardiff City are now the only team in the Premier League from outside of England. They also play in blue, have loud, passionate fans and play in the largest city within their country of Wales. #Match
Chicago White Sox = Sunderland
Sunderland have dropped off a cliff in recent seasons despite an esteemed history that contains being six-time winners of England’s elite football competition. The White Sox were projected to finish last in multiple pre-season polls and are currently on schedule for a 100-loss season. Both teams suffer from comparisons with their rivals to the north, namely the Chicago Cubs and Newcastle United, despite playing an important role in the early development of their respective top flight leagues. These teams should bounce back soon, as the White Sox have an exciting farm system and Sunderland are too big to struggle in League 1 for long.
Cleveland Indians = Burnley
Burnley have won the English football championship twice (but not since 1960) and are now an unfashionable team riding high in the Premier League. Cleveland have won the World Series twice (but not since 1948) and are now an unfashionable team riding high in the AL Central. Just imagine Terry Francona and Sean Dyche in a room together.
Detroit Tigers = Leeds United
Both teams are sleeping giants and are awaiting a return to glory after financial mismanagement. The Tigers have won the World Series four times, most recently in 2006 but are now languishing in a sub-par AL Central whilst paying big bucks to an aging star. Leeds have won the English league title three times and progressed to the semi-finals of the Champions League as recently as 2001. However, they are now a mid-table Championship side hoping to gain promotion to the Premier League and become trophy relevant again.
Kansas City Royals = Leicester City
These teams share a central location within their respective countries. Both wear blue. Both have unexpectedly won the top prize in 2016 and 2015 respectively. Few people realise that Kauffman Stadium is actually in Missouri, not Kansas, in much the same way that tourists fail to realise that Leicester is pronounced ‘Lest-er’ not Lei-cest-er. Danny Duffy and Jamie Vardy would probably be mates.
Minnesota Twins = Preston North End
Minnesota are very much in the north end of the country and made the wild card game in 2017. They have won the World Series twice (since being based in Minnesota) but were originally founded in Washington DC (as the Senators) back in 1901 as one of the original founding members of the American League. Similarly Preston North End were a founding member of the football league and have been crowned champions of England twice. They also made the Championship playoffs in 2017 but remain outside of the elite Premier League clubs, despite their history.
Houston Astros = Manchester City
This is slightly tenuous, but both teams used to be consistently underwhelming and are now the envy of their respective leagues. The Astros starting rotation of Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton and Dallas Keuchel are a good match for the attacking flair of Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus, Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling. A.J.Hinch’s defensive shifts reflect the same tactical nous of giant football nerd, Pep Guardiola.
Los Angeles Angels = Wolverhampton Wanderers
These teams represent the less fashionable choice for supporters living closeby to the second largest cities within their countries. The Angels, officially from Anaheim, have endured some wretched seasons of late but now have renewed hope due to the Trout/Ohtani double punch. Similarly, Wolves fans have watched their team disappoint, but are now surging and ready to compete with the big boys after gaining promotion to the Premier League as winners of the Championship.
Texas Rangers = Newcastle United
Everything is bigger in Texas, a state full of patriots, cowboys and large slabs of meat. Geordies are similarly proud of their city and have an owner, in Mike Ashley, who is a cowboy of sorts. The Rangers have never won a World Series but were agonisingly close in 2011. Similarly, Newcastle are yet to win a Premier League title but blew a 12 point lead in 1996.
Oakland Athletics = Watford
The Athletics have an eye-catching colour scheme of green, yellow and white. They have been an experimental team, willing to take risks by implementing new techniques, such as sabermetrics, to beat teams with bigger budgets. Similarly, Watford are unafraid of breaking the mould, with their controversial exploitation of the loan system, frequent managerial changes and lairy yellow shirts. Both are able to bat well above expectations through risk-taking in smaller markets to maximise on field performance.
Seattle Mariners = Middlesbrough
The Mariners have the longest travel times of any team in the MLB due to their position in the isolated north-west of the country, just 107 miles from Canada. They have never won a World Series, nor an AL Pennant. Middlesbrough also suffer from their location in the north-east of the country with fans often having to travel hundreds of miles in order to watch their team play away from home. They have never been crowned top-flight English football champions and are located just 101 miles from Scotland. Both teams have benefitted from signing exotic foreign imports, most notably Ichiro Suzuki for the Mariners and Juninho for the Boro.
Ed. – look, you wanted a team in the isolated North West who travel further to play fixtures than any team. And you didn’t go with the greatest team on Earth, Carlisle United? Our goalie scored once! What do you mean no exotic foreigners? Haven’t you heard of Stephane Pounewatchy?!
If Mike Trout played football/soccer for Los Angeles (Utd)