We’re now less than a year away from Major League Baseball being played on English soil. It’s a really exciting time to be a British baseball fan. And one excited British baseball fan, in particular, got to canvas the opinion of a couple of baseball broadcasting legends.
The Athletic Boston hosted a panel with Peter Gammons and Ken Rosenthal, near Harvard Square just outside of Boston. It included a meet and greet with Gammons, Rosenthal, and others from The Athletic staff, including Jen McCaffrey, who John has spoken to on the podcast previously.
After some mingling at the bar, there were a couple of panels with some of the Boston Red Sox, New England Patriots, Boston Bruins, and Boston Celtics beat writers. Then the main event when Rosenthal and Gammons took questions from the audience.
One of those questions came from yours truly, plucking up the courage while slightly starstruck by the two legends. Obviously, being a Brit and being in Boston there was only one topic to discuss. The London Series.
First up, Peter Gammons weighed in briefly on how he thinks it’ll go:
“It’s going to be fascinating to see how that works. I think it’ll go, I really do.” and then Gammons added “I think it’s great to introduce baseball culture to other cultures.”
He then elaborated on how he was fascinated by the World Baseball Classic and seeing all the different countries play and watch baseball in completely different ways. And sounded like he would be interested in how the new market would take to baseball being present on their doorstep.
Then Ken Rosenthal offered up his thoughts, and first off the obvious comment:
“My first thought is I hope FOX does the game so I can go.”
It seems to be a common mentality among Americans that they love to use their sports as an excuse to go to London. Rosenthal is no exception to that, who sounds excited to go, and I would be surprised if he didn’t get to cover the game. But then he offered a broader perspective on the series:
“My second thought is, I’m not sure if it’s going to be more of a novelty, or whether this is actually a legitimate attempt by the sport to kind of get a foothold over there.” then Rosenthal added “It’s probably just a way to make a lot of money, in a quick way. But I’m sure that they do have expansionist goals, maybe not to expand there, but just to grow the sport in that international way.”
Rosenthal seems to think that it’s part of MLB’s grand scheme to have a true international presence. Obviously, given the success of the NFL over in London, it seems like a wise move. But he was cautious in that, at this point, it could be a gimmick to follow the over major American sports. We all hope that it’s more than a novelty, so it will all depend on the success of the series in 2019 and the following season in 2020. If the British fans can show up in their droves for the series, then MLB will keep coming back. Regardless of the eventual success, both broadcasting legends generally seemed excited about the series in general.
You can hear the full audio of the evening on The Athletic Boston’s SoundCloud below. The whole panel was really interesting and I recommend listening to it all. But if you just want to listen to me nervously ask about the London Series, then Gammons’ and Rosenthal’s response, it’s at 57:55 in the recording.