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MLB cancels Cardinals series in London against Cubs due to coronavirus crisis

MLB cancels Cardinals series in London against Cubs due to coronavirus crisis

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LEADING OFF: All-Star rosters, London finale, UMPS CARE

Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees players line up as flags are unfurled before a baseball game, Saturday, June 29, 2019, in London. Major League Baseball made its European debut game at London Stadium. (AP Photo)

The rolling cancellations and postponements of Major League Baseball's season due to the rising coronavirus crisis finally reached the jewel event of the Cardinals' goal to broaden their international presence.

The Cardinals series against the Cubs in London has been canceled, Major League Baseball announced on Twitter on Wednesday morning.

The series had long been in jeopardy, dating back to early March and the opening concerns about international travel and the spread of COVID0-19 in Europe. The Cardinals had lobbied Major League Baseball to wait on a decision until closer to the scheduled date of the series, June 13-14. When the coronavirus became a global pandemic and began its rapid spread through North America, baseball shuttered spring training and delayed by at least 10 weeks the start of its own regular season. The focus shifted to larger issues than a series abroad for the Cardinals.

At a website set up for questions about the decision, Major League Baseball affirms that the London Series 2020 has been canceled and "will not take place" at any point this season.

“It just appeared that (the series) was not going to be a possibility,” Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr., told the Post-Dispatch's Rick Hummel from DeWitt's spring home in Florida. “I’ve assumed that for a little bit here but that’s just part of what’s going on in the world.

“Hopefully, whether it’s next year or some future year we can do it again. It’s good for the game to have the rivalries like ours (with the Cubs) to go over there and expand interest in baseball internationally.’’

The Cardinals’ series with the Cubs was not the only British sporting casualty on Wednesday. The time-honored Wimbledon tennis championships were postponed until next June and July.

DeWitt said “a ton of tickets” had been sold for the baseball series. "It really was a great event so it’s disappointing in that regard. The Red Sox and Yankees did so well last year and I think we were on pace to do equally well.

“We had a lot of Cardinal fans, whether they were season ticket holders or were outside the area that were interested in going, so I think we would have had a pretty good contingent over there.”

The Cardinals gave up two home games in order to be considered for the series.

The possible start date for baseball's regular season continues to creep back as the virus takes hold in the nation, and teams are now braced for there to be no baseball in April and May. A recent agreement forged between the owners and the players' union even accommodates what will happen in the event of a complete cancellation of the 2020 season. If the two games planned for London are indeed played, they can be done at Busch Stadium — the alternate site for the games.

Similar to individual states and cities in the United States, Britain has responded to a spread of coronavirus with "stay at home" policies and closing some non-essential business and severely limiting gatherings.

Major League Baseball two weeks ago canceled April games scheduled for Mexico City and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The visit to London Stadium, home of the West Ham football club, would have been the Cardinals' second international series in as many years. The team played the Reds in Monterrey, Mexico, in 2019, and the Cardinals have in recent years before more aggressive in pursuing events beyond the borders. 

Major League Baseball set up a webite to also address all ticket questions, including how to get refunds for travel packages and experiences purchased for the London Series 2020. All tickets purchased through London Stadium or Ticketmaster will be refunded automatically in full, the official site states. That refund will include service charges.

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