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Despite coming off of a season that saw MLB owners fighting with players over profit sharing during a shortened year and a year before the end of the CBA, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred made a surprising comment – the league is looking to expand. Well, perhaps not that surprising. The last batch of expansion came on the heels of the last major loss of income for MLB, the 1994-95 strike. The new batch of teams started paying their expansion fees in the middle of the 1995 season. It would not be that much of a shock if teams sought to cover some of their losses in a similar way this time. Indeed, Craig Edwards of Fangraphs suggested as much, last March, just a couple of weeks into the sports lockdown.
However, according to the most recent SB Nation Reacts survey, a slight majority of fans don’t think the league should add any new teams.
Personally, it’s something I have no particular opinion about. The biggest impact, as far as Arizona is concerned, is that going to 32 teams would presumably require re-alignment - most likely into four divisions of four teams in each league. I have to admit, I would not be averse to the D-backs getting out of the same division as the Dodgers, in terms of our post-season chances for the foreseeable future. I’d fancy our chances. especially if we were in the same division as the Rockies...
The next question MLB would need to answer is how many teams should be added.
That would make sense. It would almost have to be an even number, to avoid some really awkward scheduling. Adding four teams, two in each league gives an unwieldy 17 in each league, and means a division will end up with one fewer (if three divisions, 6/6/5) or more (four divisions, 4/4/4/5) teams than the other.
As for where any new teams might be, the commissioner mentioned six potential locations spread across North America. Nashville, Charlotte and Portland were the three teams in the United States, plus Montreal and Vancouver in Canada. Manfred also included Mexico, and although he didn’t mention a specific location within Mexico, it is believed to be Monterrey.
Fans ranked those cities in order of the ones they would most like to see host a new MLB team. Nashville took the top spot, followed by Montreal, which of course was previously home to the Expos.
I’d quite like to see baseball return to Montreal. I went to the Olympic Stadium there, back in 1998, and it was quite an interesting experience. I also wouldn’t mind MLB expanding into Mexico, though I can see that posing all kind of logistical issues, from travel to taxation. I can see expansion may end up being a potential bargaining chip during the CBA: I presume the idea of adding another 50+ more major-league jobs would be quite appealing to the union.
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