MLB Announces Home Run Derby in London Featuring Former All-Stars

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJune 3, 2017

Tampa Bay Rays' Cliff Floyd rounds third base after his solo home run during the second inning of a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs Tuesday, June 17, 2008, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Tampa Bay won 3-2. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
MIKE CARLSON/Associated Press

Major League Baseball is set to showcase a Home Run Derby at Hyde Park in London on July 4, which will feature former MLB players Cliff Floyd, Shawn Green and Carlos Pena.

Chris Cwik of Yahoo Sports reported this week the event is part of an experiment called MLB Battlegrounds to give fans in England a taste of baseball at its highest level. The derby will have a format that pits Team Boston against Team Los Angeles.

It's part of a much larger effort made by the league to increase its international exposure since commissioner Rob Manfred took office.

After taking over as the MLB chief executive in early 2015, he discussed the idea of expansion with Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.

"There has not been a lot of talk about expansion," Manfred said. "In terms of internationalizing the game, North America, in terms of sustained international activity, is someplace we need to focus. Canada, Mexico, if we were going to think about it, those would be the kinds of places that I would be interested in."

Mexico popped back up as a potential destination this week when Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reported the league views the country as a "major opportunity for expansion." He noted there's was no information on a timetable for putting a permanent franchise there available, though.

While the logistics would make a team in England virtually impossible, the MLB Battlegrounds event is a way to boost overseas interest in the product. It's a chance to create more fans who are willing to purchase merchandise or become subscribers to the league's MLB.TV package.

Other parts of the event include a VR baseball experience and a Boston vs. L.A. music battle.