The Case for Expansion

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youppi.jpg

With baseball attendance at an all-time high and the country totally not in any sort of economic recession, it's time to consider the third expansion of Major League Baseball in the past sixteen years. Yes, I realize that Bud Selig and his cronies were considering contracting the Twins and the Expos just six years ago, but that was a power play for public funds towards building new stadiums. Baseball teams were making money in 2002 and they're making a whole lot more now. So let's ride the wave of good fortune and add two more baseball clubs to the American League, bringing the number of teams in both leagues to an even 16.

Now that we've all decided that yes, it is indeed time to add two teams, we must figure out where they are to go. In the spirit of a May 2007 Baseball Prospectus column by Nate Silver that suggested relocation possibilities for the Florida Marlins (subscription req'd), let's do a countdown of the Top Ten Best Possible Expansion Cities for Baseball:

10. Las Vegas - Not enough year-round residents to support a team, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a better destination for the jetsetting Red Sox Nation to visit for a road trip.
9. Buffalo - Was considered during the National League expansion back in 1993 but has since lost a good deal of its population. Also, winter lasts until July and starts in September.
8. Oklahoma City - Is deemed large enough to have a pro basketball team, but it may be too soon (and too dry) to support a baseball team. Also, the Rangers fanbase would flee and Tom Hicks won't be able to afford to overpay crappy pitchers.
7. San Antonio - Mark Twain once said that there were just four truly unique cities in the United States, while the rest were not much different from one another. His four were Boston, San Francisco, New Orleans, and San Antonio. He was also a filthy liar who couldn't even sign his real name to his own work, so who would trust him to start a baseball team?
6. San Juan - It's well-enough populated with more people than the city of St. Louis, but they're twice as poor. Also, they couldn't even keep their own league together.
5. Columbus - Ohio needs another baseball team like I need a hole in my head. Anyone who isn't already an Indians fan or a Reds fan probably has much more interesting things going on in their lives than dealing with a third mediocre franchise.
4. Montreal - Don't blame the good people of Montreal for losing the Expos, blame owner Claude Brochu, and later Jeffrey Loria for doing everything in their power to drive away fans. Given the right situation (and a new stadium), a Montreal franchise could once again draw 2+ million fans (and bring back Youppi!)
3. New Jersey - There are almost 20,000,000 people living in the New York metropolitan area. That's more than Cleveland, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Denver, Baltimore, Tampa and San Diego combined. Remember, New York once supported three baseball teams, and that was way back when people were shorter and lived near the water.

So here are the two cities that should get expansion franchises, along with a possible nickname:

2. Portland - The Portland Willamettes would not have a huge fanbase to work with, but they've actually got a stadium plan in the works and less rain than you think. They'd be a nice fit in the American League West.
1. Charlotte - I totally stole my #1 from Mr. Silver. I can't say this any better than he did:

"There is, to my mind, exactly one place that would clearly be viable for the 31st major league franchise, and that place is Charlotte, North Carolina. The South as a whole is underrepresented in the major leagues, which is what enables the Braves to control such a substantial TV audience. Charlotte is no metropolis, but it is conveniently located at the center of several mid-size markets, including the Winston-Salem/Greensboro/Raleigh-Durham corridor along I-40, and Columbia, South Carolina."

As long as the Charlotte team didn't combine the words "River" or "Mud" with either "Dog" or "Cat" as a mascot, I'll let them have a baseball team. Perhaps they should use the North Carolina state mammal as a mascot; the Charlotte Grey Squirrels would be a welcome addition to the American League East. After all, the Yankees and Red Sox need a new powderpuff team to beat up on now that the Rays have become competitive.

What cities did I miss? What would some possible mascot ideas be for the places I mentioned?


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34 Comments

And when they open in Portland they could have DIY uniforms, man. And artisan microgreens on the free range quail dogs!

But for serious, Rob. I dont want anymore teams. In fact I'd rather weed out or work to improve the perennially bad ones we already have. I really don't need to see Julian Tavarez being a 3rd starter for some expansion squad.

So well argued, but DO NOT WANT.

Can't argue at all with Charlotte, its a beautiful city, they just built a new rail system, lots of investment types (Wachovia and BOA are headquartered there) with money to spend on merch and tickets.

It would take them a long time to cut into the Braves market though, EVERYONE born in the south east is a Braves fan. Thanks TBS!

Green Bay -- Brett Favre is the pitcher and Peter King is the catcher.

Mexico City -- It has like a billion trillion residents.

Montreal -- Okay, this one is serious. Just because the Expos were run into the ground doesn't mean a city with 1.8 million people can't support a baseball team. I mean, Charlotte lost its basketball team and the NBA gave one right back to it.

Pittsburgh -- They don't have a club, do they?

Vancouver -- I dunno anything about this city but I hear the weed is good. Portland has good beer, so that was a good choice too.

Tokyo -- See: Mexico City.

To be honest adding a third baseball team to New York/New Jersey would make the most sense, I think, but it would probably not happen.

And Portland's mascot could ride around the warning track on a fixie.

You make some good points, but EXPANSION IS NOT THE ANSWER. Sorry! There are enough franchises struggling to fill their stadiums as it is. Unless MLB were to FINALLY OH MY GOD PLEASE consider instituting a salary cap, adding new franchises would only serve to further dilute the talent pool and create irrelevance. Expansion for the sake of expansion is pure disaster.

Yes, I'm a hockey fan. Why do you ask?

In tribute to the Expos I just changed the name of Jeffrey Loria's first book to "My Heart Is A Fickle Cock"

Let's see how long it stays up.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeffrey_Loria

There are enough franchises struggling to fill their stadiums as it is.

Fickle folks in Miami have nothing to do with whether or not Portlanders come out for the ballgame.

For the record, London has 13 professional soccer teams (though just five are in the Premier League).

Brett Favre is the pitcher and Peter King is the catcher.

truestory.com

The New Orleans Hurricanes

Fickle folks in Miami have nothing to do with whether or not Portlanders come out for the ballgame.

Actually, I disagree. A lot of factors go in to the perceived relevance of a league, and I happen to think that the aggregate of fanbase loyalty/local interest is one of them. Having too many teams with lukewarm fanbases drags down the stability of the league as a whole and makes expansion a dicey proposition at best. If MLB could create the kind of fanbases that the NFL has, that might be one thing; however, I think adding new teams at this point would only weaken its overall state.

The only reasons the NFL is thriving and can survive with teams in small markets are (1) shared television revenue and (2) a fucking stranglehold over the players union.

The NFL is a dirty dictatorship. MLB is more like a benevolent oligarchy.

Ah yes... but the NFL is thriving, that much cannot be denied. (Of course, part of the advantage is that a team only plays 8 home games in a season, which is obviously going to drive up ticket demand. But I digress...) You're making the point, though, that raw economics seems to be clamoring for an expansion. That may be, but I still don't think MLB is structurally sound enough to expand without also weakening.

Talent pool, schmalent pool. If there's so little talent in baseball, then why doesn't Roger Clemens have a job?

ZING

Get back here and fight you wimp... stop hiding behind your pithy one-liners.

Well fuck I killed that thread... Exhibit A as to why I do not have a boyfriend, I'd say. Yay!

If there is hope, it lies with the proles.

Wait, what were we talking about here????

As a Raleigh resident, I support the Charlotte idea.
But the Triad (Winston-Salem/Greensboro/High Point) area would actually make more sense.
Charlotte barely supports the Bobcats and Panthers when they suck.
The Triad is halfway between Raleigh/Durham and Charlotte and would draw from both markets.

/dick joke?

Once you talk about expansion you have to start talking about realignment. Where do you put these teams? Do you add them into the current divisions or do you do you make 4, 4 team divions in each league like the NFL? If you do that, how do you do post season? You could have the 4 division winners play make the playoffs but that means the Yankees and the Red Sox could not be in at the same time. You know MLB wouldn't do that. That's a tough call.

Columbus? You ever been there? Ugh.

No realignment necessary. Put Portland in the AL West and Charlotte in the AL East. Six divisions: four with 5 teams and two with 6 teams. BOOM

I don't like the idea of expansion for MLB, but IF there were two teams to be added, let them go to Portland and Montreal. Both cities have or will have a stadium in place. Getting populaces to dole out for stadia, let alone the cash incentives,is getting more difficult. And it's not like the economy's getting any better.

I lived in both the Triad and Triangle of North Carolina, and I agree that the Winston-Salem/Greensboro area would be a better fit than Charlotte. Of course, the fact that Greensboro and Winston have both built brand new stadiums in the past five years might be a hurdle.

Eh I think this is all crazy. We do not want any more of your baseball up here in Quebec! No sir!

That's way to easy and it makes too much sense Rob. You need to at least have one or two teams switching leagues and have one team that plays their in-divions away games two time zones away.

How about a nice NL team in downtown Dallas? There are 6 million people living near it, we have a good sports city, its the fastest growing metropolitan area in the country, and a team with a real owner and real players could generate a fan base quickly methinks.

Isn't Dallas just a suburb of Arlington?

You forgot about the Norfolk/Newport News/Virginia Beach area. It was one of the favorites for getting the Expos before they went to DC. It is also one of the most populous areas without any major sports team, so they should be able to support one.

You also forgot about Connecticut. Not only would it give a highly populated area their first major sports team since the Whalers, it would throw a giant wrench in the whole Yankees-Red Sox feud, as Connecticut is traditionally divided between the two.

Hey douche, what makes Cleveland a mediocre Franchise?! They have a bottom 10 payroll and consistently compete with mostly home grown talent. you fucking hater.

As a Connecticut native, I can safely say that Connecticut has no business whatsoever with a major league baseball franchise. The AA New Haven Ravens even got jacked by New Hampshire, and deservedly so at their drawing numbers. Baseball works best in large cities with clustered populations; New Haven-Hartford doesn't really qualify, and the state's all Yankees-Mets (below the New Haven Line) or Red Sox (above) fans anyway.

New Haven does deserve another arenafootball2 team though. R.I.P. New Haven Ninjas.

Until the Florida teams' futures are a bit more fully settled (is the Marlins' stadium project fully done?), expansion talk is premature. I'd be amused to see expansion so poorly conceived that the team stays just one year in the site it's conceived though, like the 1969 Seattle Pilots- 1970 Milwaukee Brewers. Therefore, I'm supporting the resurrection of the St. Louis Browns.

If you add two teams, here's what happens:

1) Move the god damn Brewers back to the AL where they frickin' belong, thanks.
2) add one team to each league, for 16 each.
3) two divisions of 8 teams, east and west.
4) playoffs for each league feature the 2 division winners and the next-best two teams regardless of division.
5) get rid of interleague regular-season games.
6) profit.

There are 6 million people living near it, we have a good sports city, its the fastest growing metropolitan area in the country, and a team with a real owner and real players could generate a fan base quickly methinks.
Project Management degree | Architecture degree | Retail Management degree

we have a good sports city, its the fastest growing metropolitan area in the country, and a team with a real owner and real players could generate a fan base quickly methinks.
online Law degree | Online computer degree

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