After London, current Cubs answer: Where should they play next?
The traveling Cubs have logged some pretty awesome miles over the last two seasons.
The Field of Dreams Game in Dyersville, Iowa. The London Series at London Stadium in England.
So, where should fans see their team suit up next?
“Oh man, I don’t know,” Cubs ace Marcus Stroman said. “I’d play anywhere in the world. I think it’s cool going to other parts of the world. Europe’s cool. Man, I think anywhere — Dominican [Republic] would be cool, Puerto Rico. Maybe somewhere in South America. Maybe other parts of Europe. Paris.”
Stroman played in Miami this spring with team Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic and the ambience was one-of-a-kind.
“Oh, it’s crazy. That’s why I think we should play [there],” Stroman said. “I think [if] we played in Puerto Rico or Dominican [Republic] or Cuba, I think it’d be nuts. I feel like it’s very synonymous with baseball culture, the Latin culture. Having instruments, just the vibe of the stadium with the music, I think that would really like show off baseball in its best light.”
The atmosphere in Japan during the WBC was unique, too. Fans were chanting and singing for all 9 innings of a game. That’s why the Cubs’ middle infield combination of Dansby Swanson and Nico Hoerner would love to play a game in the Land of the Rising Sun.
“I mean tough logistically, but I’ve always wanted to go to Japan,” Hoerner said. “I think just obviously an incredible baseball culture there that they approach the game pretty differently from what I’ve seen. Just would be interesting to see and see some of that country.”
The Cubs played there in 2000 against the Mets, the first time that major-league games took place outside of North America. There’s a natural tie-in now, too, with Japanese outfielder Seiya Suzuki on the team.
“Just like Japanese culture is so interesting to me, now obviously having a teammate like Seiya and just conversing with him and stuff like that,” Swanson said. “Obviously, just trying to see what the Classic meant to them, it was just like, ‘You know what, that’d be a really cool trip.’”
Part of the fun aspect in these series is the ability to see new parts of the world or experience new environments. Many Cubs players had never been to London or been to the Field of Dreams movie site. So there’s an element of play along with a business trip. That’s partially why Nick Madrigal would like to see a game played in a tropical setting.
“I know it’s not way out there, but I think Hawaii would just be cool,” Madrigal said. “I think a lot of fans would travel to that game. Just kind of like a vacation game. That would be my vote, Hawaii.”
There have been 48 players from Hawaii, including recent players like Shane Victorino, Kurt Suzuki and Kolten Wong. Bringing the game to a part of the United States that hasn’t experienced a major league game would be fun for players, especially those who call the islands home.
Home, after all, is where the love and dreams were first nourished for these major leaguers. So playing somewhere near where they first learned the game would be the choice for other players.
“If I could pick, I’d love to go play in mi tierra — my homeland — Panama,” rookie catcher Miguel Amaya said. “It would mean a lot. I know that there are a lot of fans there that can’t come here to watch major league baseball. I know there are a lot of fans that would love it if there was some sort of baseball game there. For me, too, it would be a dream to play in front of my fans and the people of Panama.”
Panama is a hotbed for baseball. Hall of Famers Mariano Rivera and Rod Carew were born in the country famous for the Panama Canal. The national stadium in Panama City is named after Carew, too.
“Since I was a kid, I’ve played there in all the age categories in tournaments at the Rod Carew,” Amaya said. “Honestly, I know the fans are very anxious that one day, not too far away, there can be some game in Panama.”
After all, these international games are meant to help grow the game, too. With the Cubs in London, they helped fund new baseball fields for kids in England. Fans, who otherwise might not have, can see the best of the best play near their home — whether that’s London, Dyersville, Panama City, Tokyo, Paris or Honolulu.
“I’m open for all that, man,” Stroman said. “I think it does nothing but help grow the game, especially baseball I feel like is not very popular in those areas. I feel like it can help.”