Speaking to the press before the first New York Yankees-Boston Red Sox game at London Stadium, Manfred confirmed the tournament’s return coming at a time when baseball leaders–both pro and amateur–work to expand the footprint of the game across the globe. The Yankees-Red Sox game at London Stadium drew more than 66,000 fans to London Stadium, and the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals are set to play in London in 2020. Baseball is also slated to return as an Olympic sport in 2020, albeit without the pro players Olympic organizers crave.
With such interest in the game internationally, the return of a 2021 World Baseball Classic makes sense. From Forbes:
“The WBC we’re all in on,” Manfred said during a short media conference. “We think it’s an important part of our international program and we’re looking forward to the next go around. The last one was a real step forward for us and we’re looking to build on that momentum.”…
The inaugural was staged in 2006, and after ’09, like the Olympics, it has run every four-years. Japan won the first two, the Dominican Republic ran through the third tournament without losing a game, and Team USA finally owned the 2017 affair, trouncing Puerto Rico in the title game at Dodger Stadium in front of 51,565, the second largest crowd in tournament history.
With Olympic qualifying next year, the logistics of the WBC and hosting venues are still to come and could be announced by the end of MLB’s regular season.
This has been a big year for internationally expanding the game. Spring training 2019 was interrupted by Seattle and Oakland beginning the season in Tokyo, and the Yankees/Red Sox London game has been a strong performer at the box office.