Major League Baseball's London series returns after being canceled for the past three seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is one of the highlights of the 2023 MLB season and only the second time in league history that games have been played in Europe. The first contest back in 2019 brought a lot of fanfare to the baseball fans of the and this year, it is back to continue to broaden baseball's popularity to a worldwide level.

Going global

Over the last 20 plus years, the MLB has done a lot to expand its fan base on a global scale, starting with a few regular season games being played in Mexico in 1996, followed by a series of contests in Japan, where baseball is the most popular sport.

The next destination was all the way over in Australia, where the sport has a good following and produced some good talent. Puerto Rico has also hosted some contests, considering baseball is the most popular sport in the country. The idea for the London series was announced in 2018, with series being played in 2019 and 2020 respectively

The first matchup of the London series was the classic American League rivalry between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. The first game, which was held on June 29th at London Stadium, was a hitting bonanza as both teams hit for power at the plate and finishing with the Yankees claiming the 17-13 victory. The second game was basically the same, though things slowed down a bit, as the Yankees won the game 11-8 and won the first series in London.

2020's matchup was a National League matchup between the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals, but was cancelled, along with a majority of the season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Back in London

With the pandemic basically over and trying to pick up where things were left off, the league announced the series in London would be back for the 2023 season and the Cubs and Cardinals matchup would be played.

With big crowds packing London Stadium once again, it was play ball. The Cubs struck first when outfielder Ian Happ homered to straight-away centerfield off of veteran pitcher Adam Wainwright. A couple of singles followed, with one scoring a run from third baseman Nick Madrigal, before the Cardinals closed out the inning. The rest of the game belonged to the Cubs as they scored five more runs over the next two innings, as Happ homered again in the top of the third.

The Cardinals managed to score in the sixth inning on a Paul Goldschmidt single, but the Cubs struck back in the 9th with two runs and won the game 9-1.

The second game would be full of surprises. The first inning saw the Cubs striking first scoring four runs to start things off, but the Cardinals then answered back brutally, scoring three runs, with two of them coming off a Brendan Donovan single. Four more runs would be scored by the cardinals over the next three innings, as they knocked Cubs starting pitcher Marcus Stroman out of the game early and engineered a comeback to make up for yesterday's slop-fest. The comeback was a success as the Cardinals won 7-5, ending the 2023 London series with both teams splitting the matchup.

Expanding popularity

With each game attracting over thousands of fans, baseball has seemed to take a bit of a liking in the country. It's already been announced that next year's contest in London will have another National League rivalry when the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies will play across the pond. The MLB is already in the process of even hosting a series in Paris, France in 2025, which is another big step in the league's mission to expand their popularity in Europe, as well as globally. With the sport of baseball popular in so many countries, it only makes sense to try and spread the love for the game.