Friday, May 13, 2016
The MLB Expansion Saga Continues
Last year, I wrote a largely speculative article about the future of the game and the possibility of expansion. This past week, Commissioner Rob Manfred finally let slip a few of his thoughts on the baseball landscape and all but announced that MLB expansion was an inevitable reality. During a stop in Chicago, he shared with the White Sox broadcasters in the booth his upcoming plans. His comments gave credibility to what I and many others have thought since he took office: that the market for baseball is growing, and that MLB wants to start expanding their product beyond just the United States.
Manfred confirmed that, following the next CBA, he would like to start looking into adding another two teams to bring the total up to 32. This number makes much more sense with divisional alignment and there are certain many North American cities that can support an MLB team. Manfred cited Montreal and Mexico City has his personal favorites. Montreal has long been the "prodigal son" that people have talked about getting another crack at baseball, but Mexico City was mildly surprising. It does make sense that the commissioner would want to expand into Mexico and Latin America, but Mexico City certainly has some crime and financial issues that would need to be put to rest before it became any more than talk, and Mexico is far more of a soccer country than some of the Caribbean countries. There was an exhibition series between the Padres and Astros played at their main ballfield - Estadio Fray Nano, pictured above - this past March, similar to what Montreal did, so that is certainly a step in the right direction. Some of the Latin American countries that have the biggest history and passion for baseball are not in great financial and political shape at the moment, so there would certainly have to be a stable ownership group and strong national support behind any team starting up there.
MLB expansion is still just the tip of the iceberg in my opinion. I still think there is a fair chance that either the A's or the Rays, if not both, move from their current cities, and Montreal and Mexico City could play a role in that. There is also the issue of one MLB team equals at least another 5 minor league affiliates per team. Would Manfred push for those to be internationally based as well? There are certainly many serviceable Mexican and Canadian League stadiums to use on a temporary basis, as well as many older parks on the eastern seaboard that are lying dormant. As a ballpark chaser, this is the most exciting prospect to me - getting to see potentially 12 more stadiums, and not just 2. "Put it on the list," as Erik and I like to say.
STANDINGS AND UPCOMING SERIES AS OF 05.13:
Brewers 14-21, -12.0 (4 v. Padres, 3 v. Cubs)
Reds 14-20, -11.5 (3 @ Phillies, 2 @ Indians, 2 v. Indians)
Twins 8-25, -14.0 (3 @ Indians, 3 @ Tigers)
2016 GAMES ATTENDED:
Erik - 7 (+2 worked)
Peter - 13