Saturday, January 13, 2018

The View From Over The Pond (@AstrosFansUK)

Astros search for a front line SP- oh, hello Gerrit!
So, I was going to put together a few words on which starting pitcher the Astros were going to try and acquire after Jim Crane’s interview confirming we were seeking a front line addition... and as I began writing it was revealed on Twitter that Gerrit Cole IS joining the Astros after all:

After the has-he, hasn’t-he Hokey Cokey of a few days ago this would appear to be done and done. 

I will be honest, I have not seen Cole pitch before as it is hard enough keeping up with the Stros from London let alone keep tabs on other clubs in detail. What should I and we expect to see from Gerrit Cole?? Feel free to let me know please! I’m a sucker for shiny new things so I am excited about this in any case...! Welcome Gerrit to the World Champions.

I had posted a pretty interesting poll a couple of days ago on Twitter asking Astros fans who they wanted to see join the club out of Cole, Marcus Stroman, Chris Archer and Yu ‘World Series hero & Houston Strong t-shirt owner’ Darvish ( Stroman won the day narrowly over Archer and they would have been incredible acquisitions themselves but I think Cole joining puts this issue to bed.

With joy, however, comes a little sadness, as we bid a sad farewell to Colin Moran and, particularly, Joe Musgrove. Thank you for your efforts with us and I wish them all the very best in Pittsburgh with the Pirates. As ANY part of our first ever championship season they will never be forgotten. Thank you.

MLB in the UK
As mentioned previously, 2018 is a huge year for us in the UK as far as pushing the presence of MLB here. The rumblings over a MLB series to be held in June 2019 once again saw US airtime and the need for action here could not be more urgent - baseball has next to no profile in Britain at present. 

In the past week I noticed that the BBC broadcast a weekly NFL show on Sunday nights at a reasonable hour and this was followed a few days later by the latest NBA game held at the O2 Arena in London. I cannot stress enough as a baseball fan how frustrating it is to see NFL and NBA have a light-year head-start over MLB in terms of UK interest. Put simply, the inaction of MLB and MLB UK to sufficiently attempt to cultivate enthusiasm amongst our sports fans here is nothing short of unacceptable when contrasted with those other two American exports. 

The establishment of NFL and NBA as acceptable sporting interests in Britain has been an unqualified success; MLB needs to stand up and dare to take on a potentially fertile market.

As it stands, at present it has been left to us fans to develop our own movement in the absence of greater support from above. 2017 saw an exciting few weeks in June/July, with a Facebook live event in west London that brought a small number of us together for the first time ( followed by the MLB Battlegrounds home run derby event in Hyde Park on 4th July featuring former MLB-player Carlos Peña and cricket’s Jos Buttler. It was a huge success with around 20,000 in attendance but has been followed by a somewhat extraordinary level of silence from MLB UK when considering what (we hope) lies ahead in 2019. 

If a series took place here now it would be a throwaway novelty - we must not let this happen. A series in Britain has to be the seeding of thousands of new MLB fans across the UK. We have so much work to do, I cannot even begin to tell you... but we will do it.

Keep tabs on what I will be doing with @MLBUKCommunity as 2018 progresses, we have a few really exciting ideas we are looking to implement. My involvement is more strictly involved with promoting MLB in the UK, however for a more British baseball-centric focus please make sure to check out the @batflips_nerds podcast and their excellent work.

Of course, it is not just the powers-that-be who we have to convince to invest in MLB in the UK but also the general public themselves.

Tweets like these below show what we’re up against at home:

And what we’re up against from the USA:

...and you know what? That’s absolutely fine. We expect this and we will relish the challenge of taking on the established anti-British baseball development mindsets both in Great Britain and the United States. 

Watch this space.

-George Martin

The first overseas Houston Astros fan group, proudly supporting our team from far afield, please do follow us!