Shamrock Thoughts: Where MLB Should Expand

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It’s no secret that the commissioner of Major League Baseball, Rob Manfred, wants to change a lot to baseball (some good ideas and some bad), but the one that stands out the most is expansion. The last expansion came twenty years ago when the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Rays (Devil Rays at the time) came into the league. I’m not necessarily saying there should be expansion and that it needs to come now, but it would be interesting if that was the case. And if it is, where should they put teams? One thing to consider if they are expanding is putting one team in each league to balance things out (or moving one team from the National League into American League and putting two teams into the NL or vice versa). That being said, lets look at the candidates for expansion:

Montreal

This city has been the most talked about considering the history of the Expos, how big the area is, and the fact they lost their team to Washington D.C. Lots of fans of the Expos were genuinely upset that the team left, but it was having trouble drawing fans especially after the 1994 Player’s Strike.

Mexico City

It’s no question MLB wants to draw more interest internationally and a perfect place for that would be Mexico City as that means your sport now is played in three countries in North America showing how international the sport can be. Mexico also plays baseball passionately and that would make the sport more popular internationally. However, considering the state of the country financially, socially, and security wise, this might seem like a long shot.

Nashville

Tennessee deserves a baseball team as the state loves the sport despite its affinity for football. However, is the city big enough to support a third major sports team (it will get soccer in the future for sure)? I have been to the city twice, once even for the Winter Meetings, and it’s a great town. I just worry it’s not big enough to support an MLB team.

Memphis

Another Tennessee city here and it’s basically the same situation, is it big enough? There is minor league baseball there, but the question as to whether it can support a team is questionable. Yes there is the NBA, but more than one major professional sports team there? That’s just questionable at best.

Charlotte

North Carolina needs baseball as they are stuck between D.C. and Atlanta for baseball fandom (Atlanta more so because they have been there longer and their fandom is the arguably the biggest in terms how far it stretches in the league). D.C. and Atlanta are five hours away driving wise from North Carolina and baseball fans in the state are basically relegated to sitting at home to watch on their televisions and if they want to see them in person, they have to drive far. Baseball is better in person than on T.V. and that’s why baseball is struggling in the state (though admittedly, basketball is king there). Charlotte makes the most sense where a team should be in the state as it’s the biggest metropolitan area and it’s rapidly becoming a hot spot for people to move to. While there is minor league baseball there, in the near future I could see both Minor League and Major League there.

Portland

This city deserves another professional sports team. All they have is the NBA and MLS and they need more than that (yes, even football needs to come there). The Pacific Northwest needs more baseball as all they have is Seattle. Plus the Mariners’ city is the furthest place to visit for teams, so it would make it easier for the Mariners to travel some where close. However, Portland has proven to be a hot spot for baseball when Minor League Baseball was there.

Vancouver

Continuing with our Pacific Northwest trend, Vancouver is a great spot too and it’s in Canada as well. Canada needs more than one team in the country and Vancouver is a great spot. It’s big enough to hold a team there and it has proven to be passionate with sports with hockey and soccer there. So, why not try there?

Austin

A Texas city that is growing and growing. Plus it’s totally different from the rest of the state, which makes it an attractive spot for the league. Plus baseball is getting big in Texas with the recent success of the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros. It could add more intrigue and more monetary opportunities for MLB.

San Antonio

Continuing the Texas theme, basically use the same logic for Austin, but instead having a more of a Texas feel here. San Antonio is a really cool town, but it feels like an authentic Texas experience. It’s a big enough city to support another team as well.

Oklahoma City

Let’s stay in the Southwest part of the country and look at Oklahoma City. Here is a city that is big enough to hold another sport here as evidenced by being as successful with a major professional sports team with the NBA in town. The Southwest needs more baseball there if they want the sport to become as big as it should be.

Salt Lake City

Might be a long shot here, but here’s a big city that needs more major professional sports teams. Whether baseball will work out there is a big question, but there needs to be more teams in the “Rockies” part of the country. Plus I’m sure the Colorado Rockies would be willing to bring on a close and natural rival here.

Las Vegas

The most controversial of all the possibilities here. In terms of economics and possible support, no question baseball would thrive here. The question is whether it would be ethical to put a team here. Las Vegas is known for it’s gambling in it’s casinos and also how prostitution is legal (though regulated), and we all know how the MLB feels about those especially with gambling as evidenced with the Pete Rose and 1919 White Sox scandals.

San Juan

Probably the longest shot now considering what happened to the country after the hurricane that ravaged the island, but it was the longest shot for a while. Economically it would have been hard for there to be a team there, but MLB wants another team in Latin America.

Indianapolis

Here is a city that could use another major professional sports team with the NBA and NFL there and it being a big enough city in the Midwest. However, the problem is that it’s between Chicago and Cincinnati and that it could budge into the Reds and White Sox/Cubs fan bases.

Louisville

So far, it has shown that it can support an Minor League Baseball team, but it really doesn’t have a major professional sports team. Sure the city is crazed for the University of Louisville and they love the Louisville Bats, but could it support a team from a major league sport? Plus it might affect the fan base for the Cincinnati Reds.

Albuquerque

The Southwest needs more baseball, but is this city a great place to have at least Minor League Baseball? I’m not sure if it could support it or not, but if it is, they should put a team here for sure.

Des Moines

I don’t think the MLB would ever go for this place as it infringes in fan bases for both Chicago teams and it’s too close to St. Louis and Kansas City. It just would never work out there.

Omaha

The College World Series is played here so it only makes sense to put a team here, right? Not necessarily as it’s really close to Kansas City (which the Royals proudly claim and have a minor league affiliation with). It would get in the way of the Royals and possibly Cardinals fan base.

New Orleans

Now to the Southeast parts of the country, this would be a perfect spot for the MLB. However, the city is still recovering from Hurricane Katrina and economically they are still not in good shape. While it’s wishful thinking, I just can’t see the sport working out here until financially and logistically they get back on track.

Havana

We will wait and see what President Trump does with how we look at our relations with Cuba, but if we want to expand into Latin America, then Havana is a perfect place. Yes there are a lot of problems with human rights and economics in the country under the Castro regime, but if things could work out, it’s not a bad option.

Yes it’s a while off before we actually decide on where they will put two more franchises because of financial reasons, but if we were to put two more teams in the league, then you would have to put one in Charlotte for sure. It just makes sense logistically and financially. While I don’t see the league expanding for a while, this make so much sense. If a team was to expand there, it has to be an American League squad. And lastly, Portland should get the last spot. Portland would help so much logistically and financially for the league and teams in the league as the Mariners will finally be able to travel somewhere somewhat close. This will be controversial to most because people feel like Montreal deserves a team. I do not. The city had it’s shot and it proved to me that it does not deserve a baseball team. I talked to former Expos broadcaster Dave Van Horne in 2016 about baseball in Montreal and he told me that you could tell baseball was on it’s way down in the city even before the strike happened and that the strike was a nail on the coffin. That right there lead me to believe baseball will never work there ever again. If it was on a downward spiral 30-40 years ago, why would it work out now? Back then would have proven whether or not baseball could succeed there. From what I heard and seen, it’s proven it can’t. Why Manfred would seriously consider it is beyond my comprehension, but I hope he makes the right choice and does not bring baseball there. Hopefully someone from Montreal can prove me wrong though as there needs to be another team in Canada.

 

 

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