Speculation has been rife in the European baseball community as to whether the COVID cancellation of the planned 2020 London Series between the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals would leave Major League Baseball grasping a mere ‘cup of coffee’ in their bid to seed new support in the UK market.
MLB has continued to invest in UK friendly content and activation, with popular YouTube series Bases Covered now in its third series, and MLB60 softball having taken on new life amongst student communities. All of which led to an assumption, never publicly dampened by the League, that their medium term aspiration was to head back to London when the global public health situation allowed them to do so.
Fans were given further cause for optimism today as it transpired that London Mayor Sadiq Khan appeared to confirm that MLB would be back in 2022 – from 0.28 in the clip below:
😠 “I’m disappointed at what happened”
🏆 “But over the whole month, the best games of any host city were in London”
🌍 “I want us to be the sporting capital of the world”@MayorofLondon tells @talkSPORT the trouble at the Euros final won’t hamper London hosting major events pic.twitter.com/d6W7ODlkjW
— talkSPORT 2 (@talkSPORT2) October 19, 2021
Speaking to talkSPORT and Gridiron’s Will Gavin about London’s role as a global sporting city on the occasion of NFL’s recent visit to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Khan states:
Major League Baseball, coming back to the UK next year. We’ve seen the Yankees and the Red Sox here previously
Taken like that, it seems pretty unequivocal – and Khan should know; his team hold the keys to the capital’s former Olympic Stadium and were vital delivery partners in the incredibly successful 2019 two-game set between the sport’s most iconic franchises.
There is a but, though…
As with all things in US Sports, any future international series will be governed by the next Conditional Bargaining Agreement between MLB owners and the powerful Players Association. Those keeping a keen eye on proceedings this year will know that bringing baseball back to London is just one of many difficult issues the parties will be discussing during the coming off-season.
Nevertheless, it’s fun to speculate, and this ‘slip of the tongue’ offers the most concrete suggestion yet that we’ll live to see baseball back on this side of the pond sooner rather than later. Let the arguments over which match-ups you want, commence!
The guys will cover the news – as well as the ongoing World Series – in this week’s podcast. Keep your eyes peeled for that one.
If you want to hear the Mayor’s full discussion with Gridiron, check out their podcast here: