After Major League Baseball’s very first London Series, the people of England may be more confused about baseball than they were before. Heck — Americans might be too.
Rob Manfred and the MLB turned a soccer stadium built with the aerodynamics for track and field into a baseball field. A baseball field with a shorter distance to center field than any other major league park, and more foul territory than any other major league park. How could anything go wrong?
By the end of the series, 50 total runs came across home plate, including 10 home runs. Perhaps the players caught wind of the insufferable amount of cricket references on the broadcast and got confused what sport they were playing.
The London Series
Rick Porcello and Masahiro Tanaka getting pulled before the end of the first inning in London didn’t stop the runs from pouring across. The storied rivals each sent across six runs in the first. The Yankees went on to take game one of the London Series with a final of 17-13.
The Red Sox saw a glimmer of hope in game two of the series, but like many other leads they’ve had this season, it didn’t last. The defending champs hit three homers in the first to jump out to a 4-0 lead. Eduardo Rodriguez and Colten Brewer were able to protect the lead for six innings. Then came the seventh.
It took Boston three different pitchers to escape the frame. However, Marcus Walden, Matt Barnes, and Josh Taylor couldn’t leave without giving the Yankees a parting gift. Nine runs on six hits were gifted to the Bombers that inning. It was all but over for Boston at that point. This is a story that the fans have become all too familiar with.
Different Country, Same Issues
After a long two-game series, there is one simple takeaway for the Boston Red Sox — the bullpen. A group of four-A relievers may have sufficed last season, but let’s call a spade a spade. Craig Kimbrel is not walking through that door. Koji Uehara is not walking through that door. Jonathan Papelbon is not walking through that door.
Dave Dombrowski has a reputation of not being able to build a bullpen, but at what point does it go from not being able to build one to ignoring the issue altogether? Something needs to be done if Boston has any dreams of October.
Room for Improvement
50 runs, over nine hours of baseball, and about a million fly balls Michael Chavis had to chase into foul territory later, there certainly is some room for improvement before the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs head across the pond next season.
It can be tough to pinpoint exactly what went wrong this weekend, but here’s a starting point. If the aerodynamics of the stadium truly did affect the pitchers, it’s only logical that players will be better prepared come next summer.
It also seems fair to say that the dimensions of the stadium could use some adjusting. If the walls can’t be moved back, at least make them higher. Sure, home runs are exciting, but at a certain point it becomes a bit much.
Some may call it entertaining. Some may call it confusing. Some may call it flat out ugly. One thing is certain after the 2019 London Series — Rob Manfred escaped London looking better than the Red Sox did.
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