It has been more than two decades since the last expansion teams joined the majors, when Tampa and Arizona joined in 1998. With no firm plans publicly available, it is easily the longest period without any new teams since the expansion era began in 1961, with further waves in 1962, 1969, 1977 and 1993. But it doesn’t mean there’s no thought being given to the concept. This week’s national question provided five options from which you could choose - but the results were generally even. Montreal led the way, but only received 31% of the vote. There was then a particularly close battle for second through fourth, with Nashville (20%) just edging out Portland and Las Vegas (19%), with Charlotte last on 12%.
I’m a little surprised Las Vegas wasn’t a more popular choice. The fears about gambling and professional sport seem to have evaporated entirely over the past few years, with the city getting first an NHL team in 2017, then a WNBA franchise the following year. Of course, the big one will be the arrival of the Raiders in 2020, and I’ve no doubt Vegas would love to add a major-league franchise. Montreal is, however, still the favorite, perhaps as much for sentimental reasons, given the whimper with which the game eventually left town at the end of its previous stay. As for Nashville, the group promoting their candidacy has former D-backs GM Dave Stewart on it. So they’re probably screwed. :)
It’s all particularly relevant with the news today about the Rays’ proposal to split time between Montreal and Tampa. There does seem to be some questions over whether this will prove feasible, with their current landlords apparently less than happy about the suggestion their baseball team will bail to Canada for three months out of the year. Meanwhile, closer to home, there are two weeks’ worth of results to recap here, last week’s having fallen off the pile marked “Things to Do” [And a prior warning, there won’t be one next week, since I’m not around.] However, given there wasn’t much change in either of the two polls between this week and last, it all worked out well in the end!
Are you confident in the direction of the team: 78%/76% Yes
A solid rebound from the 55% posted at the beginning of June. A good road-trip through Toronto, Philadelphia and Washington clearly got hopes of, at the very least, a winning season for the Diamondbacks. This definitely seems to be a results-based metric, though is considerably more volatile than straight win percentage (it has been remarkably stable. the 2019 D-backs have spent the entire season so far in a relatively small band, between seven games above and three below .500). The chart below plots confidence against overall win percentage [I’ve taken it at the close of games on Monday each week] - and, perhaps more usefully, the W% since the previous poll. The correlation there seems quite clear.
Do you approve of the job Torey Lovullo is doing as manager? 89%/82% YES
Lovullo also gets a bit of a bump. Smaller in scale, though he was operating from a higher base-line, being 78% the last time we checked in, two weeks ago. Interesting that there was a bigger drop last week for him, than for overall team confidence. As usual, I’m particularly curious to hear from people who changed their minds over the past couple of weeks, and from those who voted yes in one of these polls, and no in the other. Also, on the national question: what did you vote and why? Were there any other potential candidate for expansion you think should have been included in the poll? And what do you think about the proposal for Montreal and Tampa to ‘share’ the Rays?
Answering these questions, would be why there’s a comments section...