Normally we would be gushing about all things NFL in London, but after taking a trip to the MLB games at WestHam stadium this past weekend, we thought we would touch on baseball with a little London Ballin’ news.
Baseball was back in London after taking a Covid break following their first games in 2019.
Back then, we were treated to the Yankees and BoSox blasting so many homers, they actually scored more runs than the first NFL game here.
The 2023 series featured two teams at the bottom of their division, as the St Louis Cardinals hosted the Chicago Cubs in an NL Central dumpster fire across the pond.
Sure the teams might be struggling to make the post season, but that should be nothing new to NFLUK fans who have witnessed some truly dire games.
Despite the premonition that this might be a ‘sucky series’, the games delivered, and all of the fans seemed to thoroughly enjoying the novelty of having baseball in London, with the weather helping to make the whole weekend magical.
That being said, we did have a few thoughts on how the games went down.
Wow, they really can put on a show! From the games themselves, to the craziness of Trafalgar Square takeover, London really went big baseball for the weekend.
Having the benefit of the NFL hosting games for a few decades is obviously going to help, but the MLB seemed to go above and beyond in putting it all together.
Unlike early NFL games which seemed a bit chaotic when Wembley was still growing, the MLB seemed to have a finger on all of the action, making everything feel quite seamless.
As a fan, it’s nice to have consistency from North America, and for European fans to get the real deal experience.
It was quite the dinger fest on Saturday, as the Cubs took advantage of the short wall, to pop a few over the fence.
St. Louis rebounded in true form on the Sunday, given midwest fans a chance to salivate in the fact that they were able to snag a win abroad.
While there might have been more pomp and circumstance poured into the trip than the games itself, they certainly didn’t disappoint.
The NFL usually brings over their usual slug of ex-players and hangers on, but with baseball, everything is a little different.
The Cubs have a legacy of some great celeb fans, so when Bill Murray and Nick Offerman showed up to offer support to battle the heavyweight status of John Goodman and his Cards, it all started to feel quite Hollywoody.
Add to this was Bill Murray’s hilarious and rambling appearance on BT Sport during the game. Not only was Bill too quick-witted for the hosts, when he finally had enough, he just walked away.
It’s never fun to crap on someone who goes out of their way to host you, but sometimes you need to address the mighty elephants in the room.
While it certainly looked like a baseball game, in no way did it feel like one inside the stadium.
A lack of home field announcer, walk on music, or any vibe was quite shocking, as it just felt silent and awkward.
Maybe other people could hear, but where we seated up by the Cardinals Wags, it was shockingly quiet.
To that, it did seem that there was a caste system of enjoyment for MLB fans on the night.
Those seated near the first base line were treated to t-shirts, appearances and engagement, while the rest of the stadium looked on in a ‘what’s going on here’?
There was also a ‘house band’ which not only no one could see, but barely hear. The might have been there to pump up the crowd, but no one could hear or care.
For all the talk of bringing the baseball to Britain, maybe they should have left the food at home.
A much touted ‘2 foot hot dog’ with all the toppings seemed a bit much, and they were, as people littered them all over the stadium. You didn’t need to walk far to spot lost weiners all over the place, and needed to address you walk to avoid stepping on them.
All of the food sampled by our group was cringe enough to add plans of ‘stopping at McDonald’s’ on the way home.
Don’t even get us started on the Dorito Nachos…they were everywhere too!
Unlike other stadiums, it seems like the staff at WestHam stadium don’t clean up during the games.
In fact one toilet near our gate was NEVER cleaned the entire game. By the 7th inning they might as well have locked the doors, as the bins were over-filling, plastic cups and food littered the floor, and just so much piss everywhere.
It could be that there were staffing issues, as we encountered some of the rudest stadium employees ever.
Turns out you can’t ask questions of staff manning the doors to the numerous private rooms on the upper decks.
Asking something like ‘are there bars on this floor’ were responded with such venom, one would think we asked if Ted Lasso was here.
All in all, it was a great series of games, and an enjoyable weekend of baseball in the capital.
But like anything, there is still a learning curve here to climb.