July 2013

Major League Baseball: coming to a Global Venue Near You?

Some times when you are busy with things, a story slips by your attention. This was true for me, as I missed the news on June 12 that the Arizona Diamondbacks will play as host to the Los Angeles Dodgers for the first two games of the 2014 regular season in Sydney, Australia March 22-23. I give baseball a huge round of applauds for making this move and I only wish baseball would do even more.

One thing that does bother some though, is the huge amount of travel and the odd start to the season that it creates for two teams, while no impact is felt by the remaining teams in the league. There is also the issue of teams playing their very first game when they may not be in peak performance conditions many thousands of miles from home and the like. So what follows, while sounding very radicle to some, is a solution that might yet be a way in the future for baseball to again create additional buzz, simply by how it produces a schedule.

What is the Deal plan one is surely asking? Simple, all teams play an international series at the same time. You accomplish this by using the week before the All Star game as your global baseball event. The 2019 calendar will be exactly like it is for 2013, so let’s in this example simply use 2019 as a model. Teams would play games through Sunday July 7, at which time all teams would have between three and four off/travel days. All teams would play a three game series against each other at an international site. Depending on scheduling purposes, some series may have one team designated as the home club for all three games, some series might be a split with one team home for two games and playing the third as the visitor.

Many major world cities have grounds that can be transformed into temporary baseball venues, cricket facilities would certainly serve such a purpose as is going to be done for the 2014 series in Sydney. Cities that have soccer style setups that are similar to American football could also host games if they are convertible to baseball, like so many of the stadiums built in North America during the 1960’s and ‘70’s. So let’s have some fun and put together some potential matchups. Obviously the rosters of the teams in MLB will be quite different in 2019 and there is always a chance by then that we could be talking about 32 instead of 30 teams. But for now, let’s simply focus on what we do know and produce a potential world map of baseball games for the 2019 season.

July 7, all teams play their final games in North America before traveling out of the nation. The schedule proposed here will feature six divisional matchups, one per division, six interdivisional matchups, one per division combo of west/central, west/east, and central/east in each league, plus three interleague matchups that feature a team from all six divisions. My focus was to put games in nations that have established or are trying to establish baseball tradition, many of these nations have successfully sent players to perform in the other major US sports, particularly basketball and hockey. Four series are scheduled in Latin American Nations, Panama, Venezuela, Brazil, and Argentina. Eight are scheduled for Europe, the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, France, Spain, and Italy. The remaining three series are set for South Africa, South Korea, and Australia.

Proposed game schedule.

Thursday July 11, the Yankees and Giants open an interleague series at Panama City.

Thursday July 11, the Mets and Tigers open an interleague series at Rio de Janeiro

Thursday July 11, the Marlins and Braves open a series at Buenos Aries.

Thursday July 11, the Dodgers and Padres open a series at Caracas.

Thursday July 11, the Mariners and Royals open a series at Rome.

Thursday July 11, the Brewers and Reds open a series at Berlin.

Thursday July 11, the Astros and Blue Jays open a series at London.

Thursday July 11, the Red Sox and Orioles open a series at Dublin.

Thursday July 11, the Cubs and Nationals open a series at Paris.

Thursday July 11, the Pirates and Rangers open an interleague series at Stockholm.

Thursday July 11, the Cardinals and Rockies open a series at Madrid.

Thursday July 11, the White Sox and Twins open a series at Amsterdam.

Thursday July 11, the Rays and Indians open a series at Johannesburg.

Friday July 12, the Athletics and Angels open a series at Melbourne.

Friday July 12, the Phillies and Diamondbacks open a series at Seoul.

Note that the Friday games in South Korea and Australia would start late Thursday evening or very early Friday United States time.

Saturday July 13, all series conclude accept those in Melbourne and Seoul.

Sunday July 14, the Melbourne and Seoul series are concluded, those two games will start early though, no later than 11:30 AM in Melbourne, and 12:30 PM in Seoul.

The all-star game events would be postponed a day, so that Home Run Derby would not take place until Tuesday July 16, the game itself Wednesday July 17, then another off day and finally games resume July 19. For most players not involved with the All Star game, this would simply serve as more time off to recover from the travel and to make the process fair for all involved, all-star rosters could be expanded even more than the norm.

Let’s now look at the average weather conditions for each of these cities for the dates of the games to be played. While most are in summer or near the equator, Melbourne, Johannesburg, Rio de Janeiro, and Buenos Aires are in winter. Below is average high temperature, average low temperature, and local sunset time for each of the 15 cities in this proposed event. The average is based on the three combined days of July 11-13 accept July 12-14 for Melbourne and Seoul.

Panama City: 93, 70, 6:42

Madrid: 89, 61, 9:46

Rome: 87, 61, 8:45

Seoul: 82, 70, 7:54

Caracas: 81, 66, 6:54

Rio de Janeiro: 78, 65, 5:24

Paris: 75, 58, 9:51

London: 74, 57, 9:14

Berlin: 73, 55, 9:26

Stockholm: 71, 56, 9:54

Amsterdam: 71, 53, 9:59

Dublin: 66, 53, 9:49

Johannesburg:, 61, 42, 5:33

Buenos Aires: 58, 46, 6:00

Melbourne: 56, 43, 5:19

Weather data provided at www.weather.com

Now will this happen, it’s highly unlikely, 99.9% chance that this would not happen in 2019. But maybe in the 2030 or 2035 season, when I’m into my early 60’s, maybe then we see MLB on a global stage like never before. But then maybe by 2030, we see a global minor league circuit and how better to promote the game then by having leagues that look and feel like our current minor leagues, only have them based on various parts of the globe.