Commissioner Rob Manfred has set out to expand Major League Baseball overseas and next season, for the first time ever, regular season games will be played in London. It will be the Yankees vs. the Red Sox, the only teams that matter, but after that, should the event be a success — and it will be labeled a success regardless of outcome for at least five years so that the decision-makers can save face — other teams will have to make the trip across the pond and bend the knee for Queen Elizabeth before playing America’s past time.
Expanding the game’s reach is the best way to grow it, of course, and in a sport facing a demographic death sentence, it’s a good business move to find these new markets. As an aging fan, I’m in support of growing it to keep it alive. What I’m not looking forward to is all the little changes MLB will insist upon in order to make the Londoners feel more comfortable with these visiting teams.
It’s unlikely the Giants will ever go over there to play a game because of the travel miles involved and because MLB hates National League baseball, but let’s assume that after winning the World Series in 2020, they’ll have no choice but to put the Giants on the London schedule.
A possible 2021 roster would feature Buster Posey, Johnny Cueto, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Evan Longoria, Hunter Strickland, Ty Blach, Kelby Tomlinson, Gorkys Hernandez, Reyes Moronta, Chris Shaw, Julian Fernandez, Pierce Johnson, Abiatal Avelino, Ray Black, Heliot Ramos, and Joey Bart.
Let’s take these 5 of players...
... and imagine what’s the worst MLB could do to them.
The league will want to make the transition as easy as possible for their new audience who might not be all that familiar with the game, so let’s consider what the Giants will specifically be asked to do.
- Obviously, the each player will need to pick his favorite tea.
- They’ll put up a graphic on the TV broadcast and in-stadium with the player’s face, their jersey number and position, and some stats (which will positively baffle the lot of them), but will no doubt want to use this screen real estate to link to the familiar. Sort of like the Little League World Series player chyrons:
Perhaps they’ll change the spelling of player names to read more familiar, too.
- And then they’ll want to acquaint Londoners and Britons alike by including some native-friendly questions in the pre-game publicity to get these players on the record, probably asking them questions like:
- “Which Margaret Thatcher quote best defines you?”
- “Which colony should the Kingdom reclaim?”
- “Wot be your favorite tea, guv’nah?”
- “Of the Doctor Who television programme, which Doctor is your favourite?”
While some of these will appear on the in-stadium scoreboard during the player’s plate appearances and during the telecast as a chyron overlayed while the player steps into the batter’s box, they’ll probably also do additional PR bits to pepper in throughout the between-innings downtime and on the broadcast as they come back from commercial.
Those little bits might be stuff like:
- An appearance on the Graham Norton Show.
- Taking the London Underground and not being recognized.
- Have Benedict Cumberbatch and Sir Ian McKellan stage a one act play about you (or perform a scene with Sir Ian).
- A pub crawl.
Here’s what all that might look like:
As you can see, there’s some future projections at work here. It’s difficult to guess player performance two seasons out, but here I am doing it anyway. You’ll note that Posey was not a part of that 2020 World Championship team, probably because of a DL stint. Of course, he would’ve gotten a ring, so it’s odd that my fictitious broadcast producers made this mistake — or maybe I just realized my mistake after rendering the image and didn’t feel like going back to change it. We’ll never know.
Meanwhile, I have to think that Posey passes on the Thatcher, colony, and Doctor Who questions, but willingly performs alongside Sir Ian McKellen or Benedict Cumberbatch (or “Benny”, as Buster will come to call him by the end of the shoot). He’ll need to give one more award-worthy performance before he retires. It’ll be tough to top this, but an overseas adventure is the perfect time to try:
Brandon Crawford is a handsome fellow with a somewhat ageless quality to his look, so it was tough for the computer to age him up. The algorithm seems to have gone the Rick and Morty route, but I’ll allow it since 2021 is so far into the future that it’s hard to fathom. Crawford has four children at the moment, but in the next two years, who knows? Maybe his wife will have triplets and then twins?
“Gold Glove Award” might not quite hit these British folks as cleanly as a Gilded Glove might, and that’s why I suspect they’ll tweak the verbiage as they see fit.
Crawford seems like the perfect person to sit on the couch at “The Graham Norton Show” and get paired with some Hollywood A-lister and a bunch of British celebrities.
Just imagine: Crawford is asked what the biggest culture shock has been for him since flying across the pond and settling in before “the big match”. He’s sitting next to Kate McKinnon, talking about how “it’s crazy” how they drive on the left side of the road and how weird it has been explaining the effects of Brexit to his children as they walked past dozens of empty London storefronts on Oxford Street. McKinnon will have to break the silence with her impression of Ellen DeGeneres.
I just really want to watch Brandon Belt take the London Underground and go unrecognized. It doesn’t even have to be a setup. Just plant a camera on one of his teammates or even his wife if she makes the trip and follow him around. He’ll get lost trying to read the maps, he’ll get looks by people who find his height and gait to be striking and awkward. Really, Brandon Belt, accidental tourist is a winning idea and is alone worth MLB’s cost for sending the Giants overseas.
Look, I don’t know how many firearms Joey Bart will own by 2021, but we have to assume that it’ll be a lot, given his record-setting draft bonus. And, look, we don’t know if Bart knows every part of Margaret Thatcher’s history, but let’s assume he’s a sharp guy who paid attention in class and watched all of Meryl Streep’s THE IRON LADY when his high school history teacher showed it that one week and loves to ready BrainyQuotes.com when he’s got spare time. He’s probably a big fan of “Europe was created by history. America was created by philosophy.”
Beyond that, I’m gonna put the Giants’ new face of the franchise (and, quite possibly, their best hitter in 2021) front and center in a pub crawl comedy bit that’ll be used in the game coverage. Baseball and beer go together like baseball and beer and it just makes sense that a Georgia boy would be a great fish out of water but one that could also hang with a British pub crawl. If we’re very lucky, he’ll quote SO I MARRIED AN AXE MURDERER right at the top of the crawl:
A quick bit for reference: the Infinite Hat is the hat we’ve seen Johnny Cueto wear, the one that has a picture of him wearing a hat that has on it a picture of him wearing hat that has on it a picture of him wearing a hat...
Anyway, he plans to start selling these hats very soon, and I predict that by 2021, they will be everywhere and he will be the wealthiest hat maker alive. Not necessarily because everyone will be wearing Johnny Cueto Infinite Hats, but because he’ll have be the person to popularize (and own) the idea of making hats with infinite versions of yourself on the hat. There will be Infinite Hat stores in every mall, like Build-A-Bear. So, the Brits will need to know where this trend began.
Also, Joey Bart isn’t going to go on the pub crawl alone. Oh no. Johnny Cueto will join him. And they’re going to arrive at the start of the crawl on horseback. And then the next day, while quite hungover, Johnny Cueto will attempt to complete a horse riding competition against a group of 10-year olds. And, yes, of course... he will be wearing proper riding attire.
What do you think?
Are you excited by/interested in MLB playing regular season games overseas?
This poll is closed
I am sick of British actors playing famous Americans in our films and TV shows