Cubs, Reds meet for 2022 ‘Field of Dreams’ sport

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For the second straight summer time, Main League Baseball will search to show an in any other case routine August night right into a cinematic tribute to baseball nostalgia when it sends the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds to Dyersville, Iowa, on Thursday evening. There, in a discipline reduce into the corn subsequent to the location of the film “Field of Dreams,” MLB will stage an occasion in contrast to any within the different main American sports activities — one whose intention has virtually nothing to do with what occurs when the dropping groups meet on the sphere.

The entire thing requires a behemoth effort, and never simply because Dyersville isn’t precisely the sort of place constructed to host a significant sporting occasion. Final 12 months, gamers flew into small Iowa airports and bused alongside nation roads the morning of the sport. Followers parked in filth tons and noticed their step counts rise as they made their method by cornfields to get to the park, then drove winding roads again to faraway resorts.

However after 2021’s wildly thrilling slugfest between the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees, MLB determined to do all of it once more, this time with the domestically beloved Cubs and the sport’s oldest franchise, the Reds. If MLB needed to develop its attain in Iowa, there are simpler methods — similar to, for instance, lifting the published blackouts that make it tough for the state’s residents to look at any of six “local” groups due to conflicting tv offers. However MLB opted to make the journey — and the trouble — at the very least yet another time.

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“There’s no question it’s a lot of effort. Just getting there is an effort. Finding places to house people and transportation and all that sort of stuff,” stated Chris Marinak, MLB’s chief operations and technique officer. “But maybe the easiest way to answer is we had the highest rating of any regular season baseball game [in years]. You’re willing to put in the effort when you see results like that, when it cuts through the noise. We saw how successful that was.”

One thing in regards to the 2021 sport appeared to stay. According to Fox Sports, it was the most-watched common season sport on any community since 2005 and the most-streamed common season sport in Fox Sports activities historical past. What MLB will discover out Thursday is whether or not it was the novelty of the sport that made it so interesting or if one thing in regards to the mannequin can proceed to grab followers’ consideration.

The “Field of Dreams” web site homeowners, together with Corridor of Famer Frank Thomas, have let MLB know that they won’t be able to host a sport subsequent 12 months due to development plans, in line with an individual conversant in the state of affairs, who stated MLB would take into account going again to Dyersville in subsequent years.

However no matter occurs Thursday, MLB is already contemplating different, related event-style video games sooner or later, Marinak stated.

For instance, MLB has introduced that the Cubs and their greatest rival, the St. Louis Cardinals, will play in a two-game sequence in London subsequent June, the second such sequence after the Yankees and Boston Purple Sox performed there in 2019. The San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks have been scheduled to play video games in Mexico Metropolis throughout the 2020 season earlier than it was shortened due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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And when MLB negotiated its new collective bargaining settlement with the gamers union this 12 months, the pact included a dedication to holding video games or excursions in Asia, the Dominican Republic, London, Mexico, Paris and Puerto Rico over the subsequent 4 seasons. These video games, Marinak stated, shall be much less in regards to the occasion than the situation, much less about one explicit second than a broader effort to succeed in out to new followers in new areas. In London, for instance, MLB staged a brand new competitors known as House Run Derby X that pitted former main leaguers in opposition to each other this summer time.

“We’re looking at fans in international markets, and the game really helps cement a marketing initiative around that audience. London next year — that’s not done in isolation. That’s not a game where it stands on its own [like the ‘Field of Dreams’ game],” he stated, noting that just like the Little League Basic, which MLB will stage in Williamsport, Pa., this month, worldwide video games could be related time and again as a result of MLB’s advertising and marketing to geographic or demographic teams continues 12 months after 12 months.

Marinak stated MLB is having conversations about different methods to tie event-style video games in nontraditional venues to different areas through which it’s making an attempt to develop its attain. For instance, a report in Ballpark Digest just lately advised that Bosse Field, the historic setting of the film “A League of Their Own,” is on MLB’s radar as a possible venue within the subsequent few years. Throughout final 12 months’s “Field of Dreams” broadcast, MLB Community analyst Harold Reynolds pitched Hinchliffe Stadium in Paterson, N.J. — one of many final remaining stadiums to host Negro League video games — as one other interesting risk.

MLB wouldn’t affirm these venues as potential websites and Marinak stated that, as of Wednesday, it didn’t have agency plans for future video games. However he acknowledged that venues like these — places with robust baseball traditions — are the sort of locations MLB would take into account for occasions within the mould of, if not precisely like, what’s going to occur in Dyersville on Thursday evening.

“I have no doubt in the next handful of years we’ll have some of those type of games. We don’t have any firm plans on what that might be at this time, but we have active internal conversations about all sorts of ideas,” Marinak stated.

“Outreach to the African American fan base, Negro League history is definitely an area where we look to improve our engagement. I can see a game that fits into that area. Something around women in baseball could be something that makes sense,” he added. “Or things around certain geographies, certain areas of the country that have rich baseball histories and trying to bring a game there to bring life to those.”

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What could turn out to be clearer after Thursday’s sport is strictly how a lot urge for food baseball followers have for watching related occasions when they’re not distinctive. Although video games in unusual locations are sometimes doubtless to attract capability crowds — tickets for final 12 months’s “Field of Dreams” sport have been going for 1000’s of {dollars} on the secondary market — they’re no certain factor to safe the identical sort of nationwide tv curiosity when the stage will not be so novel and when the contributors are much less famed than the vaunted Yankees and star-studded White Sox.

However Marinak stated he isn’t frightened about saturating the market with occasions like these, largely as a result of they take a substantial amount of effort and preparation to stage — even at a spot the place MLB has beforehand held an occasion.

“There’s only so many shoot-the-moon kind of ideas. But when you hit one, you want to hit on it, and certainly the ‘Field of Dreams’ has fit into that category,” he stated. “I’m sure other ideas may surface in the coming years that fit that, and it’s a know-it-when-you-see-it thing.”

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