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Baseball in London?

Newly elected London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, graced the United States with his presence this week and took in a New York Mets game while he was at it. After throwing out the ceremonial first pitch on Sunday, Khan spoke with Mets owner Fred Wilpon about possibly playing at London’s Olympic Stadium in the near future.  Major League Baseball has played multiple games outside of the continental US (not including Canada) over the past decade and a half, including games in Japan, Mexico, and Australia. Plans to continue international expansion have stalled in recent years, but this statement by Khan might be implying some current scheduling plans. In Australia, MLB has been able to start a league which has been quite successful over the past few years. The former British colony has also hosted MLB games in the past.

While the National Football League has big plans for their international games, playing four games a year in London with more planned for China and beyond, baseball is already arguably a more international sport. The World Baseball Classic has proven that baseball is a way of life in other countries like Cuba and Japan. Khan wants to prove London, and Britain as a whole, will not be effected by Brexit and should be known as “the sporting capital of the world."  

As baseball's popularity stagnates in the United States, the world still seems for the taking. Globalization in sport has never been more apparent, and yet we still have yet to see a truly international league.  While the four major sports leagues in the United States feature international players and have played exhibition games outside of North America, the logistics of an international league may prove to be too much to overcome at the current time

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    I enjoyed your article. I did not know the mayor of London acme to the United States and threw out the first pitch at a Mets game. I am a baseball fan so it is nice to know that there is an interest in the game throughout the world.

    I agree with you because I also think it would be hard to create an international league because of the player’s association. A flight from the United States to London can take between 7 to 11 hours. I think this would be the main issue with an international league. The MLBPA, which represents the players, would have to agree with the international expansion. I don’t think that the players would want to travel that much especially because of their schedule. The MLB season consists of 162 games, while the NFL season consists of only 16. Traveling 11 hours to play 3 games and then coming back to the United States might be the biggest reason why it would be hard to create an international expansion.

    I think that the occasional trips, like the ones in the past to Japan and Australia, are great in that they create interest in the sport. Baseball is known as a boring and slow game, getting younger people involved in the game is great for the sport. I feel that the World Baseball Classic is the closest to an international league, and because it is new, hopefully it will continue to grow in popularity and create interest in baseball. 

  • Sean, 

    You make a great start to an argument that baseball is more international than American football, yet it can be extended to include the Peurto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Korea in addition to Cuba and Japan. The Little League World Series also shows this as teams come seven different regions around the World. The fluidity of global economies opens many doors for baseball to become an international sport. It is also a sport that presents itself with a lower risk of head injuries as compared to American football, which is a large concern for those in the sport world. These two factors, in addition to the ones you mentioned of other countries already playing host to MLB games aids the argument that globalization will aid the MLB in expansion. However, I do not believe that this could come in the form of one global league. I think the World is too large to have dedicated fans for a global league.  The introduction of several independent leagues across the World who aim to win their league, and then advance to the World Baseball classic seems more feasible in the short term. The same could be done for softball in order to fully engage the World's population. The doors are open and it will be interesting to see who steps into them and who can make baseball truly an international sport.

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