MLB Expansion

Hello baseball fans!

If you’re reading this chances are you love, or at least like, Major League Baseball and you have every reason to. Whether it’s the atmosphere of a stadium, watching your team chase down that one playoff spot left, or even better watching one of today’s stars launch a tremendous bat flip in front of his home crowd, this game of baseball gives fans so many reasons to love and watch it day after day after day. But is there room to improve America’s past time? The answer is yes and it should be done as soon as possible.

I take you back to morning of November 18th of 1997 when I was just a chubby faced toddler getting ready to turn two years old but already with a baseball bat in my hand. Although not quite as cute something much more influential to the game of baseball was taking place just one state over in Arizona. The Arizona Diamondbacks and the then Tampa Bay Devil Rays were getting ready to undergo an expansion draft that would mold the teams early years and provide two very different outcomes for each team.

The “D-Backs” won the World Series in just their 4th season while it took Tampa Bay eleven seasons and a name change (cutting “Devil” from their name after the 2007 season) to make the postseason. Regardless of their immediate results it was an exciting time for MLB.

With the inability to share my experience on that November day I spoke with a friend of mine, Steve Mathews, who was not in diapers at the time and was instead an 18 year old fan of the game. When asked about how he felt during the previous expansion Mathews said that “To me the ’93 and ’97 expansions were exciting. [You had] More players to get a chance, new places to play at, divisions scrambled up, I enjoyed it.” Mathews then went on to say that he hasn’t really thought about another expansion yet but thinks it would be cool for the same reasons but adds that he’d “like to see some new unis” and “would like to see it by 2020.”

Major League Baseball is in it’s longest drought without expansion since it began expanding in the 1960s and if they are to expand by 2020 it will need to start the process soon by establishing an expansion committee similar to the one created before the 1998 expansion. The committee will need to look at potential markets, money in these markets, the willingness of the people living there to spend that money, and what allegiances to teams already exist in these areas. It is extensive research that unfortunately cannot be done over night and will most likely take quite a bit of time. Here are the cities I would like to see MLB expand to (or in one case go back to).

Portland, OR: According to Bloomberg Business, Portland was ranked as the 12th richest city in the United States in 2014 and out of the cities above them on that list only two of them do not currently have major league teams in or within an hour of them (Des Moines, IA and Charlotte, NC). This goes to show that Portland has money to spend and with it being a youthful city on the rise, MLB would give the people of the city a great way to spend their money. Now the argument can be made that the Mariners are too close to Portland and putting a team there would dip into their market but that argument is just as easily defeated when you look at the distance. It takes roughly three hours to travel from Portland to Seattle and, if you take the Dodgers for instance, if you leave dodger stadium and travel that same amount of time you run into not one but two other major league teams. Another reason that could help bring a team to Portland would be the cities craft beer scene, if used the way San Diego has used their craft beer scene, it would create even more room for growth in the industry along with giving fans the classic experience of enjoying a beer at a baseball game with friends. It’s yet to be seen if there would be enough fans in the area to support a team but its definitely worth MLB looking into it.

Montreal, QC: This move would be one that would be I believe a lot of Canadians would love. With the Blue Jays recent success now is a better time than any to give two teams in Canada another shot. Many ex-Expos fans who have ended up rooting for the Blue Jays for the sole purpose of rooting for a Canadian team need to return home. If the Nationals would be willing to sell the rights to the Expos back to the owner of Montreal’s potential team then it would bring back memories that parents and grandparents would be able to share with their children and grandchildren. In just two exhibition games last season 96,000+ tickets were sold which has caused MLB to schedule another exhibition series this upcoming season, which might be a hint that there could be a team calling Montreal home sooner than expected. Having two teams in Canada could also make for a very interesting interleague rivalry with the Blue Jays that would be sure to pack the stadium. Also on a smaller note who wouldn’t want to see an updated and modernized Expos jersey?

Feel free to leave me a comment or send me email at fivepointfivehole@yahoo.com. Let me know your thoughts and where you would like to see baseball expanded too. Thanks for stopping by and make sure you check back to see what else is making its way through the five point five hole!

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Opening Week Story Lines

Hello baseball fans! First I’d like to wish everyone a happy Easter and I would also like to wish everyone a happy Opening Night! That’s right, winter has passed, Spring Training is over, and the first pitch of the regular season is just minutes away. Now with my last preseason post I give you the top story lines for Opening Week.

Cardinals at Cubs: The big story here is actually the lack of the biggest story of Spring Training, Kris Bryant. The Cubs have decided to keep Bryant down in the minors for a short period of time to ensure that he will remain under team control for an extra year which has irritated some fans but excited some others knowing that Bryant will most likely be staying in a Cubs jersey for the next seven seasons. Not to be over shadowed however is SP Jon Lester’s Cubs debut vs Cardinals SP ace Adam Wainwright. With two dominant pitchers on the bump today it’s sure to be pitchers duel.

Padres at Dodgers: The new look Padres take on Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers on Monday with Matt Kemp playing in his first ever game not wearing a dodger jersey. It won’t be an easy series for either team and will come down to a great pitching staff in the Dodgers vs a new powerhouse offense in the Padres. As I’m typing this out, the Padres GM AJ Preller has completed another trade that has answered the remaining 25-man roster questions. In a blockbuster trade with the Braves, the Padres have acquired CP Craig Kimbrel and OF Melvin Upton Jr (formerly BJ Upton) for Cameron Maybin, Carlos Quentin, Matt Wisler, Jordan Paroubeck, and the 41st overall pick in next year’s draft.

Red Sox at Yankees: A little later on in Opening Week the Boston Red Sox will travel to New York to face the Yankees in arguably the biggest rivalry in sports history. The Yankees will look to silence the explosive Boston offense while also taking advantage of the Sox’ sub par pitching staff. Although neither of these teams appear to be the favorite to win the division, a Yankees-Sox game is sure to excite and you can expect all three games to be over analyzed by everyone.

Diamondbacks: Top Cuban prospect Yasmany Tomas was optioned to AAA in a move that shocked many. The D-Backs signed Tomas this offseason to a 6yr 68.5 million dollar deal and were hoping for Tomas to be major league ready at either 3B or OF but it appears he isn’t quite there yet. There’s no timeline for when he will make the big league club but when he does it’s almost certain that Tomas will make a huge impact.

Thanks for stopping by and make sure you check back to see what else is making its way through the five point five hole.

-Matthew Green