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MLB officially announces next year’s Yankees-Red Sox series in London

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This has been the worst-kept secret in the world, but this morning Major League Baseball officially announced that the Yankees will meet the Red Sox in London for a two-game regular season series next year.

The will be played on June 29-30 at London Stadium, the site of the 2012 Olympic Games. The Red Sox will be the home team, not that it really matters. Estimated capacity of London Stadium for the series will be 55,000 mostly confused British people. The press release says the stadium will “take on a baseball configuration for the event,” which, well, I would hope so.

The series next year will not be a one-and-done, either. MLB and the London mayor’s office have agreed to a two-year deal that will include another series in London in 2020, with participating teams to be announced. The release notes that “other initiatives that will aim to establish a footprint in the city” will also be scheduled. Here’s hoping it’s not just another Train or Fall Out Boy concert. MLB has gone to that well too many times.

There were obligatory quotes from Rob Manfred, Tony Clark and the team owners, but you’ve heard them a million times. Here’s The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan’s comment:

“I am absolutely delighted that we have secured this historic agreement for Major League Baseball to come to London in 2019 and 2020. All the hard work has paid off. There is no better way to start the London Series and the first Major League Baseball fixture in Europe than a clash between two heavyweights of international sport – the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. This is a major coup demonstrating, once again, that London is the sporting capital of the world and I am excited about a new partnership with MLB and the long term future of this sport in our great city.”

No word if, after he called London “the sporting capital of the world,” a bunch of Boston and New York fans clogged up talk radio to say they were being “disrespected.” But yeah, they probably did.

Kirk Gibson home run happened 30 years ago

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With the Dodgers trying to make it back to the World Series for the second year in a row — and trying to win it for the first time in 30 years — it’s worth looking back at the last time they won it. More specifically, it’s worth looking back at the signature moment from the last time they won it. Which, really, was one of baseball’s all-time signature moments.

Yep, I’m talking about Kirk Gibson’s famous game-winning home run off of Dennis Eckersley of the Oakland Athletics in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, which happened 30 years ago tonight.

All playoff magic for anyone too young to remember Bill Mazeroski’s homer in 1960 is measured against Gibson taking Dennis Eckersley downtown to turn a 4-3 deficit into a 5-4 win. Heck, even if you were around in 1960, it’s far less likely that you saw Mazeroski’s homer than it was for you to have seen Gibson’s. Nationally broadcast in prime time to a nation of millions who had not yet fragmented into viewers of hundreds of obscure cable channels and various forms of streaming entertainments, it was a moment that sent shockwaves through the world of sports.

For my part, I was fifteen years-old, sitting in my living room in Beckley, West Virginia watching it as it happened. Like most of the rest of the country, I was convinced that the Dodgers had no chance to beat the mighty Bash Brothers and the 104-win Oakland A’s. Especially given that the Dodgers’ leader, MVP-to-be Gibson, was hobbled and not starting. Even when he was called on to pinch hit, I had no faith that he’d be able to touch Eckersley, the best relief pitcher on the planet, let alone hit the ball with any kind of authority.

But, as Vin said when he called it, the Dodgers’ year was so improbable that, in hindsight, it made perfect sense for Gibson to have done the impossible: