MLB: Time To Make Some Pounds

FILE - St. Louis Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol, right, is restrained by umpire Jeff Nelson (45) while talking to C.B. Bucknor (54) during the third inning of the team's baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 21, 2022, in Phoenix. Marmol was ejected. Marmol said Bucknor “has zero class” for refusing to shake his hand during the lineup card exchange at home plate before a game against the Washington Nationals on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023. Marmol was seeing Bucknor for the first time the Aug. 21 game. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri, File)

St. Louis will play the Chicago Cubs in London.

Major League Baseball is taking its product back to London, England with a pair of games between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs on June 24th and 25th which will deprive Cardinals and Cubs consumers of one home game each in the traditional baseball rivalry. MLB and its players want to grow the game which really means the two sides want to establish markets where money can be made. MLB will also stage games in London in 2024 featuring the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies. MLB plans to open the 2024 season with games in Seoul, South Korea. The games in Seoul make sense as South Korea has a robust baseball league and the country produces players good enough to be on MLB rosters. The games in London are purely exhibitions in an attempt to raise some interest in the game to extract pounds out of the country. MLB is not going to displace soccer or cricket as a major sport in the United Kingdom anytime soon. MLB plans to hold games in Paris, France in 2025.

Why the rush to stage games in faraway locales? Simple. In 2022, one of the provisions of the collective bargaining agreement that MLB owners and the Players Association signed stipulated that both sides would be committed to growing the game internationally. The players said yes to playing regular season games at various international sites each year of the five-year contract, through 2026. South Korea and France would join Mexico, Japan, Australia and the United Kingdom as nations that hosted regular-season MLB games outside of the United States and Canada. Missing from MLB’s international effort is The Netherlands which has a baseball stadium near Amsterdam. A decade ago, Amsterdam was angling to host MLB games but that never happened. MLB’s international outreach is all about money.

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Ukrainian flags are seen outside Wrigley Field as fans arrive for the Chicago Cubs home-opener baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers, Thursday, April 7, 2022, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)