HomeSportsKurkjian: The Beauty of London Series - UnlistedNews

Kurkjian: The Beauty of London Series – UnlistedNews

LONDON — Some sports are as international as the International House of Pancakes. Not baseball. It is everywhere, from Cuba to Aruba, from Canada to Panama, from Ty France to Jonathan India.

And this weekend, baseball has come to England, home of Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace and royalty, but it will be the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs, not the Kansas City Royals. They will play at the London Stadium. It’s international baseball at its finest – a 142-year-old Midwestern rivalry set in historic, old and spectacular England. “It’s going to be unforgettable,” Cardinals pitcher Miles Mikolas said.

The Cubs arrived in London via Pittsburgh, where they swept the Pirates, and then flew to England on Wednesday night. They slept on the plane and early Thursday they began to walk the streets of London.

“It was amazing,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “We saw everything: Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey. We learned everything about Shakespeare and Dickens…I’m a redneck from Florida. I don’t know much about world history. But it was all so amazing.”

The Cubs ended the day with a private guided tour of Westminster Abbey, a portion of which was rented by Cubs owner Tom Ricketts.

“That was the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen,” Cubs outfielder Cody Bellinger said. “We were all in awe walking around, looking at everything, the ceiling. I’ve never seen anything like it. We looked at each other and wondered, ‘How the hell did they build this?'”

Mikolas also visited the Abbey.

“People who have a house built today have to deal with builders who use bricks, plaster and concrete…and I’m in Westminster Abbey thinking, ‘They did a better job building something a thousand years ago,'” Mikolas said. . “Today, we build these giant glass buildings. I, will take one building made of stone at a time.”

Cardinals shortstop Paul DeJong was equally impressed by the city’s history.

“Our hotel [The Four Seasons] it has a statue of Poseidon on top, the architecture is impressive,” he said. “We were also wondering how they built all this so long ago. I guess they built things to survive, they had to build them so strong that they wouldn’t collapse. But they went way beyond survival, they went from survival to… art.”

DeJong also visited the Tower of London.

“It was remarkable,” he said. “That’s where Anne Boleyn was beheaded… And we were standing there today. It was an amazing day. We [the team] took a tour of London on a boat [on the River Thames]. We saw so many sights. It’s amazing how all the great civilizations were built on a river, providing transportation, materials.”

Murray Cook, the genius outfielder who builds new fields and restores old ones for Major League Baseball, might not have used the Thames, but he, too, had a construction project coming up. Cook began work on the pitch at London Stadium, a beautiful 55,000-capacity open-air arena, on June 5. He and his staff turned it into a baseball field in 18 days.

“Murray is a monster,” an MLB official said. “Murray is a magician.”

Cubs catcher Yan Gomes, who was born in Brazil and is a huge soccer fan, said: “How about that? I finally get to go to a real soccer stadium… and we’re playing a baseball game. “.

To allow him to do so, Cook’s team first had to occupy the entire board (five layers) from a recent concert. Cook shipped 340 tons of clay to build the infield. He installed artificial grass. He moved home plate back seven feet, from 385 to 392, to try to avoid a repeat of the first game played at this ballpark in 2019 when the Yankees beat the Red Sox 17-13. The alleys in right and left center field were extended to 387 feet. The ball still carries well and the grass is thicker and softer than normal artificial grass.

“It’s the bountiest turf I’ve ever seen,” Cubs first baseman Trey Mancini said.

Cubs infielder Nick Madrigal said, “We dribbled a ball across the grass and it bounced right up to our eyes. It takes a little getting used to. That second hop, the one with topspin, you better be ready.”

The fans didn’t care if the ball bounced too high or jumped too high; they just wanted to watch baseball. And there were Cubs fans and Cardinals fans everywhere in London, including a couple from St. Louis married for 35 years: one is a Cubs fan, the other is a Cardinals fan.

“I was in Westminster Abbey and I turned around and there were 10 people in cardinal hats standing right behind me,” Mikolas said. “So, I took a photo with all of them. The English people around us had no idea who I was. I’m sure they were wondering: ‘Why are they crowding around? that boy?'”

Still, there are baseball fans in England. Great Britain fielded a team in the World Baseball Classic. They even won a match, beating Colombia. On a tour of the city on Thursday, we ran into a Brit who had been to games in the United States.

“I went to games in San Francisco when Barry Bonds hit … like a hundred home runs,” he said. “I went to a game at Yankee Stadium. That was great. I can’t wait for the games here.”

He was right to be excited. Saturday was one to remember for Cubs outfielder Ian Happ, who homered in his first two at-bats, leading the Cubs to a 9-1 victory. So perfect: A guy named Ian hit two home runs in his first game in London. “That’s a very popular name in England,” he said. “That was very good”.

It was a big night for Cubs outfielder Mike Tauchman because he played in this series for the Yankees in 2019.

“I’m Mr. London…actually, I’m Mr. Europe,” Tauchman said with a smile. “Some of the guys asked me what it would be like to play here. I told them, ‘When we leave, it’s going to stink. Everything was great tonight. The atmosphere was electric. And it was 15 degrees cooler. [than it was in 2019]. And the game didn’t last four hours.”

It lasted 2:40 and was a huge victory for Major League Baseball. There were home runs, great defensive plays, including a diving catch by Cubs right fielder Seiya Suzuki, and some very good pitching, especially from Cubs starter Justin Steele. But it was the sellout crowd of 54,662 that made the night.

“I had to take a moment in the seventh inning to enjoy how much fun everyone was having,” Happ said. “It looked like there were 50,000 people there. And they were singing ‘Sweet Caroline’ in the seventh inning!”

“The crowd was incredible,” Ross said. “And for them to be cheering for, ‘Go Cubs Go’ at the end was great.”

It’s a special event for me too – my late mother, aptly named Joy, was born and raised in Bournemouth, England. We grew up with stories of soccer, lawn bowling, netball (basketball, but no backboard) and of course her favourite, cricket.

I heard my loving father raise his voice to my loving mother once. While watching the 1968 World Series, my mother claimed that a cricket bowler (pitcher) could throw harder than a major league bowler. My dad, once a very good baseball player with a great sense of the game, said, “Listen, Joy, look: no cricketer bowls harder than Bob Gibson!”

Fifty-five years later, I watched a baseball game in England. It was fascinating, it was emotional, it was a lot of fun. Most of all, I was touched by how much players enjoyed the experience of historic London.

“I played three years in Japan,” said Mikolas. “I can only remember a handful of games I played there, maybe a shutout I threw. And I can only remember a few teammates. But I’ll never forget the temples, the shrines, the trip we took to Hiroshima. The experiences. That’s it. what you remember. That’s what we’ll all remember and never forget about London.”

Baseball in England.



Sara Marcus
Sara Marcus
Meet Sara Marcus, our newest addition to the Unlisted News team! Sara is a talented author and cultural critic, whose work has appeared in a variety of publications. Sara's writing style is characterized by its incisiveness and thought-provoking nature, and her insightful commentary on music, politics, and social justice is sure to captivate our readers. We are thrilled to have her join our team and look forward to sharing her work with our readers.


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