It might be time for baseball to think about expansion again. But while the usual suspects of cities are still in contention for a new team, an article by J. P Morosi brought up an interesting location: Austin.
It is an all new territory episode of The Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.
The Falling Canadian Dollar Could Be A Major Roadblock In Any Montreal Bid For Another MLB Franchise
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The Canadian Dollar is in a free-fall against the American greenback. I woke up this morning to see that to buy a US $1, it now cost $1.263 Canadian dollars. Effectively that means any club in Canada is at 26.3% Luxury Tax before the season even starts, because the team pays out player salaries in USD, while the money brought in is Canadian currency.
So often people forget that the Montreal Expos problems became occurring not only as the 1994 Player Strike/1995 Lockout fanbase was angry at the MLB, with some of them never to return, but also a sagging loony.
At its worst price, was a 0.62 cent buck vs the USA back in the mid-90’s. With the oil prices being what they are, this has serious ramifications for any impending groups of people wishing to bring back baseball to Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
The Expos left after the 2004 season, and in some ways it is a total injustice. Perhaps no other franchise has been affected more by the two biggest work stoppages than the Montreal had been.
The 1981 Player strike happened when Montreal was filling Olympic Stadium to the tune of 2 Million Fans per year, and the young nucleus of players such as Andre Dawson, Tim Raines, Gary Carter, Tim Wallach and Warren Cromartie were leading the charge to an uprising NL squad.
Of course everyone remembers “Blue Monday’s” HR to knock the Expos out of the 1981 playoff chase. The 1979 – 1994 teams carried out 12 out of 15 winning seasons, and possessed one of the greatest semblance of a drafting organization ever. Read the rest of this entry
Sunday May 27th, 2012
Jonathan Hacohen: Posted every Weekend: Your top baseball questions from the past week are answered. E-mail all questions to email@example.com, message us on Twitter, post on our Facebook Wall and leave comments on our website! There are many ways to reach us and we will get to your questions from all social media outlets!
Let’s get to your top questions of the week:
Q: What do you think about Honolulu (for MLB expansion)? They would get so many people during the summer for vacation. Robert
JH: Robert! I don’t think a week goes by where I don’t receive a question from you on MLB expansion. You know that it is one of my favorite topics- so inevitably, we end up discussing it seemingly at least once on ATR every week. Honolulu now…that is interesting. As we discussed in previous expansion talks, Major League Baseball will consider many factors in its next round of expansion. Population base and the availability of fans for games will be one key factor. Honolulu has apparently 337,000 residents while Hawaii itself is closing in on 1,000,000. Not bad. Not bad at all. But even with a strong population base, we would have to be realistic on the area. Travel will be a killer. Which division would we even consider putting them in? The climate would be perfect though. Nice and dry in the summer, warm but not overbearing. A very population destination for tourists, but with most trying to enjoy sun and beaches, I am not sure how baseball would go over as a tourist attraction.
Ultimately, distance will be the killer. Also, taxes I understand may be an issue as well. Les Murakami Stadium in Honalulu is home to the University of Hawaii baseball team. The stadium holds 4,312 and has turf. Guess what? A new stadium will need to be built to accommodate MLB. Will that happen? Many of the other candidates for MLB expansion will need to build a stadium as well. But at least those areas have a decent shot at a team. To get a good stadium, you need a rich owner with a supportive community willing to subsidize the venture. Hawaii folded its winter league in 2008, but I have read reports it could return. If the area could not keep the winter league, I think MLB expansion would be a tough sell. But if nothing else, distance is the killer. You can have one team in Hawaii and expect all the other teams in the league (especially in the division) to travel such a distance. Ten hours from Hawaii to NYC? No thanks. We need to be creative in thinking MLB expansion, but Honolulu is reaching a little too far. Read the rest of this entry
Wednesday November 2, 2011
Rob Bland (Baseball Writer – MLB reports): Allan H. Selig, or Bud, as he is known around baseball, will go down in history as the commissioner of baseball during one of its darkest times. Bud took over as acting commissioner for Fay Vincent in September 1992, and was almost immediately embroiled in controversy. With the collective bargaining agreement due to expire after the 1993 season, Selig knew that an agreement between the MLBPA and MLB owners was vital. The owners voted to implement a salary cap, eliminate salary arbitration and free agency would begin after four years instead of six. The MLBPA said that while this would solve parity problems in baseball, it would not benefit the players whatsoever. August 12, 1994 was set as a strike date by the players’ association if an agreement was not reached on the new CBA. When that day came, the players walked off the job. By September 14th, when no agreement was reached, the World Series was cancelled by Selig.
It wasn’t until most of Spring Training in 1995 was completed (with replacement players) that Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor issued an injunction against the owners. On April 2nd, the strike was over, which had lasted 232 days. This caused the 1995 season to be 144 games, as opposed to the regular 162 games. Baseball attendance declined by 20% in 1995, and it took a long time for fans to recover. Fans never recovered in Montreal, where their payroll had to be slashed due to losses and eventually the MLB took ownership of the team. The team was eventually moved to Washington for the 2005 season.
In 1998, baseball fans flocked to the baseball stadiums to watch a race of historic proportions. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were blasting balls into the stratosphere at alarming rates, and Roger Maris’ single season record of 61 home runs was being challenged. McGwire ended up with 70 and Sosa hit 66 as America and the rest of the world watched in awe as these two larger than life men hit prodigious home runs. Two expansion teams, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the Arizona Diamondbacks proceeded to join the MLB.
Home runs over the next few years continued to climb, as in 2001, when Barry Bonds then broke McGwire’s record with 73 home runs of his own. Steroids were allegedly running rampant in the MLB and there was no legitimate testing protocol. In 2005, Selig met with US Congress on the issue. Amphetamines were also on the table to be banned. By March 2006, Selig appointed Senator George Mitchell to investigate the usage of performance-enhancing drugs in the MLB. The Mitchell Report, a 409 page document, was released in December 2007 after a 21 month investigation. It released names of many high-profile baseball players who used PEDs.
Because of this report, stricter policing and testing of PEDs has been put in place, as well as very strict penalties if players are caught. Selig has taken flak over the years for not being more proactive in the matter, however, early in the “Steroid Era”, it would have been almost impossible to know how widespread steroid use was.
Selig brought in two expansion teams, brought the MLB out of a dark time after the strike, has improved MLB’s PED testing and punishment policies. Most importantly, there has been labor peace for 17 years.
Bud Selig never wanted to be the full-time commissioner, but he had been voted unanimously in 1998 when the acting commissioner title was changed to commissioner. In January of 2008, Selig wanted to retire, but after the owners begged him to stay, he signed a 3-year extension. His current contract is set to expire after the 2012 season, about a year from now. He has been adamant that this will be the end of his tenure as Commissioner of Major League Baseball. He will be 78 years old. Since there has not been a search party constructed to find his successor, it can only be assumed that a short list has already been created, or the owners plan to attempt Bud to stay. Many have been on record of saying that they wish he would stay as commissioner for life.
Major League Baseball must at least entertain the notion that Selig will not be returning as commissioner, and thus, must include these people on their list of candidates:
He has the lineage to succeed in this role. His father Lee was the GM and president of the Baltimore Orioles from 1958-1966. He then became president of the American League and is enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Andy’s grandfather, Larry, was a chief executive with the Cincinnati Reds, Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees. It has been said he was one of the main driving forces of televising baseball games regularly as well as playing night games. Andy has 2 World Series rings as a GM with the Minnesota Twins, and was the president and CEO of the Chicago Cubs from 1994 to 2006, when he took a job as the President of Baseball Operations with the Baltimore Orioles. He recently stepped down from this role, and has been suggested as a man who could succeed as the commissioner. MacPhail understands the history of the MLB and the commissioner’s role, and has been involved in baseball in many different facets.
Brosnan is currently serving as the Executive Vice President, Business of the MLB. He has been in this role since February of 2000. Tim’s roles with the MLB include licensing, broadcasting both domestically and internationally, and special events. Since the MLB is making every effort to grow globally, it should be noted that Brosnan began working in the Commissioner’s Office in 1991 as Vice President of International Business Affairs. His work internationally would include the many trips to Asia for teams, as well as directly working with the World Baseball Classic.
Derrick joined the Diamondbacks in May 2005 after working in the front office of the Los Angeles Dodgers for many years. In September 2006, Derrick was named President of the Diamondbacks and later added the title of Chief Executive Officer in January 2009.
The Diamondbacks are very fortunate to have one of the most progressive and dynamic baseball leaders at their helm. Derrick developed the “Circle of Success” mission statement, the foundation for the management of the Diamondbacks. A true ambassador to the game, Derrick Hall is a tireless worker in promoting and developing baseball in Arizona. Derrick is often mentioned by many baseball commentators as a candidate to succeed Bud Selig as Commissioner.
Selig’s right hand man’s role is Executive Vice President, Labor Relations & Human Resources. His main roles are to keep the peace between MLB and MLBPA, as well as HR work with the Commissioner’s Office. 17 years of labor peace as a direct participant in two rounds of collective bargaining with the MLBPA make him a great candidate for the commissioner’s position. He has also represented teams in salary arbitration and has provided advice to teams on salary negotiations with players.
The New York Mets GM could potentially leave his current post to fulfill this role next offseason. Alderson has a career path unlike any of the other men on this list due to the fact that he has worked not only as a general manager, but has spent significant time working with the commissioner. Billy Beane’s mentor first began working for the Oakland A’s in 1981, and was the GM from 1983 until 1997. He then worked in the Commissioner’s Office as the Executive Vice President, Baseball Operations for 7 years. Most recently, after being the CEO of the San Diego Padres from 2005 to 2009, he was a liaison for the commissioner to address the issues of corruption in baseball in the Dominican Republic. Alderson is also a chairman of MLB’s Playing Rules Committee.
While Selig has been most adamant that he will be retiring at the end of the 2012 season, I believe that, once again, he will be convinced to stay on as commissioner. It would be in the best interest of baseball if he were to stay on, with a protégé being in place to learn the ropes from him. With Selig at the helm, the MLB owners have been happy, the players’ union has been happy, and the best product is displayed on the field. Baseball has been more exciting than ever, and I think we all owe a big thanks to Mr. Selig for being a big part of that.
A big congratulation goes out to Tony La Russa. On October 31, 2011, he announced his retirement just days after managing the St. Louis Cardinals to a World Series title. La Russa will surely be a Hall of Famer after his 33 year managing career that saw him compile 2,728 wins with the Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals. His teams reached the playoffs 14 times, and he won 3 AL pennants with the A’s, winning one World Series title. He also won 3 NL pennants with the Cards, winning two more World Series. Tony won 3 Manager of the Year Awards in the American League, as well as one in the National League. La Russa will go down as one of the greatest managers in the history of the MLB, and he went out on top. Congratulations, Tony, for a great career.
***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Rob Bland. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Rob on Twitter.***
Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback. You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan onFacebook . To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.
Follow @mlbreportsFriday October 21, 2011
MLB reports – Rob Bland: Expanding the playoffs has been a hot topic for many years now. While the move will not be as drastic as when the MLB added the first wild card team in each league, it has drawn the ire from a lot of critics. In 1994, MLB was to use the postseason system currently in place; however the season was cut short due to a player strike. It was then that the MLB went to three divisions in each league (East, Central, and West) as well as a wild card team (the best non-divisional winner record in the league). The American league Divisional winners would have been the New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox in the Central and Texas Rangers in the West (with a record of 52-61). Conversely, the Cleveland Indians would have been the wild card winners at 66-47. In the National League, the East would have been won by the Montreal Expos, who had the MLB’s best record of 74-40. The Central and West would have been won by the Cincinnati Reds and LA Dodgers, respectively, while the wild card winner would have been the Atlanta Braves.
However, due to the strike, which also shortened the following season, 1995 was the first year this system actually came into play. This season saw a shortened 144 game schedule. The NL East winners, Atlanta Braves had to go through the slugging Colorado Rockies; the first NL wild card team. They then faced the Reds, and the eventual World Series Champions Cleveland Indians. The Indians took a very peculiar path to the World Series. After leading the MLB with a 100-44 record, the Indians faced the Boston Red Sox, winners of the AL East, who had the 2nd best record in the American League. The Yankees were the wild card winners, who were defeated by the Seattle Mariners in the AL Division Series.
The current Collective Bargaining Agreement between the commissioner, Bud Selig, with the MLB and its players’ union expires in December of this year, and an extension of five years is expected to be reached any day. One of the main hold-ups to a deal is the addition of another wild card team. The 2nd best non-divisonal winner would get into the playoffs. This may not seem like much, where every other major sports league in North America has at least 3 “wild card” teams, but in baseball, tradition is always at the top of people’s minds. Adding a team to each league’s postseason picture could lengthen the MLB season, which is something that is a major concern to most people involved in the process.
One option that was bandied around was to have the two wild card teams face off in a best 2 out of 3 series. The advantage of this short series is that both teams that didn’t win their division would have to play extra games while the winners get a short break to recuperate their injured players. Also, the extra games give opportunities to more teams to earn extra postseason revenue, which benefits the league. However, the extra 2-4 days off that the other teams would have to endure could also cause a team to lose its momentum gained at the end of the season.
However, it is believed that the MLB will go to a one game sudden death playoff between the two wild card teams. In my opinion, the biggest advantage to this is that it gives the winner of the game a monumental disadvantage going into the second round. The wild card teams would be forced to pitch their ace in the playoff, and therefore would not be able to pitch until at least game 3 of the next round. This means the team’s best starter would only get one start in a best of 5 series. Not only would the team with the best record in the league have home-field advantage, but they would see their opponent’s best pitcher in only one game.
In the current state of the MLB postseason, ten wild card teams have made it to the World Series, out of a possible 34 teams going back to 1995, including 2011. Roughly 29% of wild card teams make it into the World Series. If you figure that 1 out of 4 teams in each league make it to the World Series, or 25%, then you have a better chance of making it as a wild card than as a divisional winner. Four World Series have been won by wild card teams. 25% of World Series have been won by a team that should have a distinct disadvantage, but obviously do not. It is due to this that MLB must make it a bigger hindrance for not winning your division. Playing an extra game, extra travel and burning your ace are ways to weaken a wild card team’s chance of making it to the World Series.
With the union and MLB reps meeting every day trying to hammer out the extension for the CBA, you should see the added teams in the playoffs in 2012 or 2013. It is widely expected that the deal will be reached in the middle of the World Series to take advantage or the added publicity it would gain. I am fairly certain that the new playoff format will come into effect for the 2012 season, and there will be a lot of teams looking to push the envelope and make an appearance.
World Series: Game 2 Recap
Game 2 was a bit of a surprise, as Jaime Garcia, whom many picked to implode in this guy, had a great start. Through 7 solid innings, he gave up only 3 hits and 1 walk to 7 strike outs. Colby Lewis was equally as impressive until the 7th inning, where he was able to strike Matt Holliday out to lead off the inning. David Freese then singled and Yadier Molina flew out. Nick Punto then hit a ground ball towards first base that went off of Michael Young’s glove and into right field, moving Freese to third. With runners on the corners and one out in the 7th, Alexi Ogando came in to face the hitter in the pitcher’s spot. That hitter: Allen Craig. The same hero of game 1 that hit a single to right field that scored the go ahead and eventual winning run. Craig promptly lined a ball to right field to score David Freese, breaking the dead lock.
What would a playoff game be without drama? Jason Motte came in the 9th to close out the 1-0 game. So far in the postseason, he had given up 1 hit in 29 plate appearances. Ian Kinsler led off the inning with a bloop single off the end of the bat. Elvis Andrus came up to the plate and looked to get a sac bunt on the ground, but Kinsler decided to take matters in his own hands, and stole second base by the smallest of margins. Andrus then lifted a 2-2 pitch to center field for a single. While Kinsler was held at 3rd, Cardinals CF Jon Jay threw the ball wide of the cutoff man, which allowed Andrus to slide safely into 2nd base.
Manager Tony La Russa then yanked Motte for lefty Arthur Rhodes to face Josh Hamilton. On the first pitch, he hit a fly ball to right that scored Kinsler and advanced Andrus to third. Even more like La Russa, he brought in Lance Lynn to face Michael Young, who hit a 3-2 curveball deep enough to center to scored Andrus, and the Rangers lead the game 2-1.
Rangers closer Neftali Feliz took the mound in the bottom of the 9th and walked Yadier Molina on 5 pitches 97 mph or faster, hitting 100 on the radar gun with the first pitch. Nick Punto came to the plate, bunted two balls foul up around his eyes, then swung feebly to strike out. Feliz then struck out Skip Schumaker and induced a fly ball off the bat of Rafael Furcal to seal the victory.
With the series tied at one game apiece, an off day tomorrow and game 3 slated for Saturday night in Texas, this series is only going to get better. Keep checking MLB reports for your daily fix of updates on the World Series.
Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Rob Bland. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Rob on Twitter.
Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback. You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan onFacebook . To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.
Thursday September 8, 2011
April Whitzman (Blue Jays Writer- MLB reports): Should Canada get another Major League Team? It’s been a question that has been discussed ever since the Montreal Expos got relocated to Washington at the end of the 2004 season. However, with the increased popularity of the Toronto Blue Jays nation-wide and the success of sports in large Canadian cities such as Vancouver and Montreal, it is a debate that is getting considerable attention. Here are my thoughts on the possibility of either MLB adding a new team to Canada or on having one relocated north.
Let’s start with the possibility of whether Vancouver could support a Major League Baseball team. To begin, it should be considered that baseball interest has increased significantly in the city ever since the Vancouver Canadians became a Low-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. The Vancouver discussion has since shifted venue with the newly-renovated B.C Place Stadium. With over $600 million in upgrades and retrofitting, it is presently one of the most impressive structures in North America.
Let’s also take into account the size of Vancouver; with a surrounding area population of nearly three million, it is one of the biggest cities in the USA or Canada not to have a team. Not only that, but there is history of baseball in Vancouver. In fact, BC Place Stadium hosted annual exhibition games for the Seattle Mariners back in the nineties when the Pacific Northwest Club had not yet moved into Safeco Field, and attendance was very acceptable. In fact, the exhibition games against the Toronto Blue Jays drew approximately 40,000 fans per game.
Prior to being relocated to Sacramento, Vancouver also had an AAA-affiliate team that played out of Nat Bailey Stadium for Major League teams including the then California Angels, Oakland Athletics, Milwaukee Brewers, and Los Angeles Dodgers. Once again, Vancouver residents proved that baseball was important to them by having very good attendance at the games.
While I am still optimistic regarding the fact that a team in Vancouver would work, Andrew Forsyth, the Vancouver Canadians’ Beat Writer for JaysProspects.com, discussed a realistic angle, stating: “An MLB Team in Vancouver? That’s a tough sell. Vancouver is a dedicated hockey town, and baseball, be it the Blue Jays, Mariners or Canadians, rarely gets coverage in the local media. Thus, they will have a hard time drawing a crowd as long as the Canucks are on the ice. Plus, with Scotia Bank Field at Nat Bailey Stadium only holding a crowd of 5,100, the team would have to go to the retro-fitted BC Place which is already home to the BC Lions and the Vancouver Whitecaps. Although Vancouver is a city that does well hosting multiple sports teams, they are a fair-weather fan base with a minority of dedicated Baseball fans. Thus, the hardest sell of all is that Vancouver fans don’t react well to teams that don’t make the playoffs, so if a team were to come, they’d need to be immediately strong.”
Thus, taking all of this into consideration, the question is asked again – Is there a future for MLB in Vancouver? As Forsyth states, it is definitely a tough sell. But, I believe that due to the increased publicity of Vancouver as a land of sports (thanks in part to the 2010 Winter Olympics), it is evident that fans in Vancouver would love a MLB team in their city… they’d just need to win!
On a personal note, I should admit that the only time I have seen my father cry was during the Montreal Expos final home game. While I was only 17 at the time, I remember it perfectly like it was yesterday. It was September 29, 2004, and the Expos lost 9-1 to the Florida Marlins – definitely not the way the wanted to end their career in Canada. 31,395 fans were in the stands, including myself, and of course, my weeping father. While they lost their last home game, the Expos finished their season with a win, defeating the New York Mets by a score of 8-1 on October 3rd. That was it, after 36 seasons, 2,753 wins, 2,942 losses, 2,786 home games, 2 inadequate ball parks, and 108,858,412 fans who saw only one single postseason appearance. The Montreal Expos were no more.
Still people ask: could they come back?
This question is asked even more on a regular basis now that the NHL has brought back the Winnipeg Jets and that their fan base has doubled. But could the same occur for the Montreal Expos? Personally, I think that it is a harder sell for Montreal than Vancouver, as there are many improvements they would need in order for this unlikely dream to become a reality.
For starters, the reincarnated Expos franchise would absolutely need a new stadium. While I loved the park as a kid, Olympic Stadium is simply not a good place to play baseball. This new stadium should also need a retractable roof. While Montreal has always been against having a retractable roof, they need it due to the weather in the early and late parts of baseball season. And by having it retractable, the new team could play outdoor baseball – and still not have any weather-related postponements at home, just like its Canadian counterpart, the Toronto Blue Jays.
Similar to Vancouver, another aspect that must occur is that the team will need to be successful. Montreal is tired of having losing teams and if the Blue Jays are any indication, fans only go to the games if there are top-tier players (Jose Bautista, Brett Lawrie, etc) playing. Lastly, if Montreal does receive a team, there is one final thing that must occur – the team needs to be called the Montreal Expos. As comparable to the new Winnipeg Jets, fans need the history behind the franchise. Keeping the name is the only way this can be done. (Of course, signing Montreal native and current New York Yankee catcher Russell Martin could also be a great addition to the team).
Many blame the downfall of the Expos on the fans and on the fact that most of the population is French, resulting in a barrier between the players and fans. However, I still place most of the responsibility on the 1994 strike-suspended season which stopped the Expos season, which was on pace to win 105 games that year. This disenchanted the fan base, and within two years the team parted with Marquis Grissom, Larry Walker, Delino DeShields and John Wetteland, and the foundation began to crumble. Thus, I do not think the fans are to blame, but rather the lost season which ended up being the team’s downfall. As in Winnipeg, I believe that only the fans would be able to bring baseball back to the city.
Another issue, however, is the competition that would arise between the Montreal Expos and the Toronto Blue Jays. No, I am not referring to the rivalry that used to occur every Canada Day (July 1st) between the two teams, but instead, to the competition that would occur on network television and within the media. There is no doubt that competing television interests put the Expos in direct competition with the Jays in the 80s and 90s and set Montreal on a downhill slide. With Rogers Sportsnet already taking precedence of the Blue Jays and growing a larger fan base by the minute, my guess that media and broadcasting would definitely be a slippery slope if the Expos were to return as well.
While Forsyth gave me his thoughts on the addition of an MLB team in Vancouver, I was also curious to hear his thoughts regarding Montreal as well. To this, he stated, “Montreal is even more of a hockey town than Vancouver, so once again, if a pro team were to re-enter the province, my guess is that priority would be placed on getting the Nordiques to return to Quebec. It’s tough. Canadians love their hockey.”
While Quebec does love its hockey, it is apparent that many miss the peanuts and crackerjacks in their province. They have since tried to fill the void in their lives with a successful independent Can-Am league ballclub that is only a few hours away (in Quebec City) from Olympic Stadium. Despite the team’s success, I still agree with Gilles Taillon, Baseball Quebec’s administration director, as he stated: “For MLB to come back to Montreal, it would have to go through the Minor League route first.” As opposed to Vancouver, Montreal presently does not have a minor-league team to gauge MLB interest in the province. With strong rumors that Ottawa could be receiving an AAA team in the near future, Montreal should make bids and efforts to gain a team as well. If that team is successful and fans prove there is dedication, there is always possibility that Major League Baseball could arrive in Montreal in the future.
There are many questions that arise if in fact a team did move north to Canada; the first of which, is deciding which league it would join. Many speculate that the new team would join the National League, where the Expos once reigned. Despite the fact that the first Canadian team played in the NL and has historical rivalries there, the American League might be a better fit. The NL already has two extra teams, thus, by adding a team to the AL, it would represent one more step in leveling the playing field. Specifically, and certainly if a team were to move to Vancouver, I would move the team to the AL West. This would not only enable strong competition with the Seattle Mariners (only about 150 miles from Vancouver), but would bring in a perfect rivalry with the Toronto Blue Jays, as they have British Columbia native, Brett Lawrie.
Another option, however, is to relocate a team to a Canadian city. The first team that comes to mind is the Tampa Bay Rays, as both their field, and their fan base are diminishing despite productive seasons and exciting players. In the case of such a relocation, I would not keep the newly moved team in the AL East, but rather I would move the team to the AL West for the reasons explained above. If a team needs to be re-added to the AL East, my thoughts would be to add the Detroit Tigers to the division (who should have never left the east in the first place in my opinion, based on its rivalries with the Jays, Orioles, Yankees and Red Sox).
Overall, these are just my personal thoughts, which only touch the surface of whether Canada should get another Major League team. That being said, I would love to hear your opinions! So be sure to email your comments to MLBreports@gmail.com or to post them at the bottom of this article and add me to Twitter at @Alleycat17. Looking forward to hearing from you!
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Wednesday August 10, 2011
Q: Once Anthony Rendon signs with the Nationals, do you see him moving to 2B? What’s your best guess? From Flips, parts unknown.
MLB reports: The Rice product, drafted 6th overall by the Nationals this year is likely to sign with the Nationals by the August 15th deadline. In the unlikely event that he does not sign, then the Nationals would get a compensation pick next draft. But luckily for Washington, Rendon is expected to join the club this year. With Ryan Zimmerman entrenched at 3rd base, many people have speculated at which position Rendon will end up. I have heard 2nd base tossed around, but the smart money is 1st base. Adam La Roche is a temporary solution for the squad and not the long-term answer. The Nationals appear to be set up the middle with Danny Espinosa and Ian Desmond. Rendon’s bat has never been a question. To get him quickly into the lineup, expect the Nationals to move him to 1st base right away after being signed. The outfield is another option, but more of a last resort.
Q: Will this be the year that the Texas Rangers win the World Series? From Anne, Dallas.
MLB reports: If the Rangers had been able to sign Cliff Lee, my answer would have been yes. But they did not and the Halladay-Lee combination will lead the Phillies to victory in the fall in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, the Rangers have an excellent team. An offense led by Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler, Michael Young and company. C.J. Wilson as the ace. The bullpen trio of Neftali Feliz, Mike Adams and Koji Uehara. The Rangers can do it all. But firstly, just to make it to the World Series the Rangers will need to pass the Yankees and Red Sox. Even then, the Phillies if they end up as their opponent will be tough to beat. The Phillies have a solid offense core of Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Hunter Pence. The bullpen has been steady, led by closer Ryan Madson. But it is the starting pitching that will see the Phillies through. With all the roadblocks in the Rangers path, I see them as a strong contender but not necessarily the favorites to win the World Series this year.
Q: Why is it legal to bulldoze a catcher when he clearly has the ball, but not a fielder at any other base? From G Homan, Ohio.
MLB reports: You will have to check the rule book on this one. It is just as legal to take out a catcher as it is an infielder during play, but it depends on the nature of the play. A baserunner cannot run outside of the baselines to purposely run over an infielder or a catcher. But in the course of running the bases, runners can collide with an infielder as they would a catcher. Now the runners cannot purposely injure a defensive player, like using the spikes or an elbow to the face. But to reach base safely, a strong slide or collision is a part of the game and can happen at second base the same way it can at home. Despite cries to change the rules after the Buster Posey injury, strong and aggressive base running remains a vital part of the game.
Q: Will the Phillies get an arm for their bullpen through waivers? From Miguel, Philadelphia.
MLB reports: Last time I checked, your team was stacked fairly well at the back-end of their pitching staff. Ryan Madson as closer. Brad Lidge, Antonio Bastardo, Jose Contreras (when healthy) and Kyle Kendrick. I wouldn’t be too worried about the pen. Some people are calling for Heath Bell still to go to the Phillies. But with the waiver process in effect, I can’t see Bell falling to the Phillies before getting snapped up earlier on waivers. Another arm or two might out there, but nothing too special. The Phillies most likely go with what they got and that is still much above most other pens in baseball.
Q: If you look at the numbers, you will find out that Indianapolis, IN and San Antonio, TX are the most populous cities without a MLB team. I would think size of market would drive who gets the next teams. It is obvious that MLB is financially doing really well. I would keep two leagues, and give the expansion teams to the AL, since they are the league with only 14 teams.
West Midwest East Atlantic
LA Angels Rangers Indianapolis Yankees
Oakland A’s KC Royals Tigers Red Sox
San Antonio Twins Indians Orioles
Mariners White Sox Rays Blue Jays
West Midwest East Atlantic
Dodgers Colorado Rockies Chicago Cubs NY Mets
Padres Houston Astros Cincinnati Reds Phil Phillies
Giants St. Louis Cardinals Atlanta Braves Florida Marlins
Dbacks Brewers Pitt Pirates Wash Nationals
I tried to used a US map,and place teams in divisions according to how the line up East and West. From Tom, Orange CA.
MLB reports: Very interesting alignment Tom. Indianapolis and San Antonio have been two very popular destinations for our readers in selecting the next two expansion MLB cities. There has been resistance by Bud Selig to further expand baseball. However, as discussed in our previous articles on the subject, baseball needs to add two more teams to balance out the leagues to 16-teams a piece. Also realignment is in order to create better geographical rivalries and even out the number of teams per division. So far, the most that we have heard is that baseball is planning to realign by moving one NL team to the AL by 2013 (as the 2012 regular season schedule has already been prepared in draft format). The problem with the 15/15 split is that an interleague game would need to be played most days, which does not seem like a worthwhile proposition. Houston by most accounts is the team most likely to move. So while we appreciate your thoughts, the expansion and radical realignment ideas are unlikely to happen… yet. If and when they do, we would like to see more shifting of teams to create new excitement and rivalries in baseball. But the framework you have laid down is a very good start. Thank you for sending it in.
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Thursday July 13, 2011
MLB reports: In our never-ending quest to revitalize and reform baseball, we have discussed and covered in previous editions of the Reports several cutting edge topics. We have looked at MLB Expansion, the new format introduced for the 2013 edition of the WBC, expanding the MLB Playoffs and proposing MLB Realignment. If you thought that we were radical thinkers up until now, well then you haven’t seen anything yet. Today we bring you the new international MLB system, a creation that we feel is long overdue. Discussions have existed for many years in baseball circles that the international development of talent and leagues by Major League Baseball is not working. With the formation of MLB Global, that is all about to change.
There are several international matters being discussed currently as the MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement is set to expire on December 11, 2011. At the forefront is the current system of signing of international free agents by MLB teams. Under the current system, international talent is not subject to a draft and salary recommendations and as a result, when the international free agency period begins, all talent in applicable areas are available to teams at the highest bidder of each player’s choice. Eligible countries include the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Mexico, Panama, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia.
From there, Japan is under another system called posting, whereby until a player has nine years experience in the Japanese league and is exempt, his controlling Japanese team can offer his rights to MLB teams if requested by the player and consented by the team. MLB Teams submit secret bids over a four-day period. If the Japanese team accepts the winning bid, from there the highest offer then allows the winning team a 30-day window period to negotiate a contract with the player. If the two sides cannot come to terms, the player stays in Japan and the posting fee is returned to the MLB team. Two examples of distinct systems that are currently in place in baseball, but neither appears to be working particularly well.
I have read commentators calling for many changes to the current international baseball markets in relation to Major League Baseball. I have heard the cries for an international draft, whereby all eligible players would be required to be drafted to join a MLB team. There would be anything from recommended slot salaries, to a soft or hard cap. Having most international players simply available to the highest bidder is seen as circumventing the equality and fairness principles behind a draft. Teams like the Yankees and Red Sox can afford to lose draft picks in signing top free agents, as they are able to recoup the prospects back in the international market. But if there was a draft system in place, there would be more opportunity for other teams to have access to top international prospects. But how to hold such a draft and what countries to include? These are questions that linger and result in delays to changing the international system. Then there is the Japanese posting system to contend with and how to liberate Japanese players to Major League Baseball. We may not have all the answers, but there is a starting point. MLB Global.
For simplicity of this article, we will use the Dominican Republic and Japan as examples of territories for MLB Global. From there, the boundaries will be increased until even one day, Cuba could become a territory. But let’s start the discussion with explaining what is MLB Global. The mandate of MLB Global would be the expansion of the MLB brand around the world. Depending on the countries involved, MLB Global would be creating for the most part either sister MLB leagues or MLB affiliated leagues. Let’s start with our inaugural league: MLB Dominicana. Long known for producing top baseball talent, the Dominican Republic is one of the world’s greatest baseball hotbeds. Major League teams have been building academies in the Dominican for years and attempting to cultivate new prospects. But a quandary exists in the Dominican. While the Dominican has a great deal of talent, it still has room to grow. Yet only certain teams are established in the country, while others stay away. Some analysts believe the area is saturated and it is time to discover new areas of development. I believe that more investment is actually needed, but in a manner that will benefit Major League Baseball as a whole rather than select teams. More prospects could be developed in the Dominican if the proper funding and system were put into place. The Dominican has not hit its limit, but rather has not yet even met its potential. MLB Dominicana can work towards utilizing and maximizing the talent available in the Dominican.
MLB Dominicana would be established as follows. A league would be formed, either through an existing Dominican baseball league or a completely new league. The league could have ten to sixteen teams to start off and eventually grow to thirty teams over the years. The goal would be for every MLB team to have a sister team as part of MLB Dominicana. From there, every eligible Dominican player would need to be drafted by a MLB Dominicana team, which would essentially give that player’s rights to his North American MLB team. Creating this system would be taxing initially for each MLB team, but a system of co-ownership and co-management could be created between each MLB team and their affiliate team in the Dominican. What is envisioned from there, is the cross-development and mobility of players between MLB and MLB Dominicana. Let’s take the for example the Colorado Rockies and if they had a sister MLB Dominicana team, the Boca Chica Thunder. The Thunder are involved in a yearly player draft, as is done in Major League Baseball. In the 2011 draft: 1st round, 5th overall, the Thunder take 16-year old shortstop Pedro Beltran. Once the Dominican player is drafted by the Thunder, the Rockies would have the ability to either keep Beltran in MLB Dominicana to play for the Thunder or to bring him over to North America to play in the minors or majors. The Rockies would be responsible for Beltran’s signing bonus and salary regardless of where he plays. The creation of MLB Dominicana creates an incentive for MLB teams to invest resources, including money and coaching to the Dominican area. Players like the fictitious Pedro Beltran would be able to stay home and continue their baseball development and integrate easier to North America. A win for the Dominican Republic, its baseball fans, the players and MLB teams.
But wait, there is more. The mobility of players from MLB Dominicana to North America could work the reverse way as well. Younger players with options in North America would be available to play for the sister MLB Dominicana team as well. Take the Rockies again. They have a young pitcher in their system by the name of Casey Weathers. Once considered to be their closer of the future, Weathers is now 26-years of age and pitching in AA. His numbers are not at the highest level and his stock is starting to fall. The Rockies could move Weathers over to MLB Dominicana, to either pitch out of the Thunder’s bullpen or stretch him out as a starter. We are starting to see more mobility of North America players to international baseball markets. Ryan Garko in Korea. Josh Fields to Japan. Heck, think of Tuffy Rhodes and Cecil Fielder with home run records and Matt Murton becoming the single season hit king in Japan. As baseball becomes a true international sport and the level of talent increases, the amount of available positions on each MLB affiliate team in North American decreases drastically. Having MLB Dominicana available to North American teams to develop and provide opportunities to its younger players would be invaluable. In addition, the younger Domican players would benefit from having North American teammates to assist in their own development as players by sharing and learning each one’s knowledge and style of play. Again, a win-win proposition.
As MLB Dominicana advances and grows, its limits are endless. Additional minor league levels can be established as the number of teams and available players can grow. MLB Dominicana can have its own AAA and AA levels as is done in North American ball. Local sponsorship and support would be difficult, given the economic difficulties faced by the region. The revenue stream would be of less focus as in comparison to the talent that the league produces. For the money that each team puts into MLB Dominicana, the end result will be more talent in North America eventually for each MLB team. Probably the biggest obstacle that MLB Dominicana will face is perception. Critics will point to the failure of NFL Europe and predetermine the inability of MLB Dominicana to succeed. While NFL Europe has some similarities to MLB Dominicana, the goals and focus of each league is different. NFL Europe was created to be a money-making operation and grow the NFL brand and work as a farm system/development league for the NFL. MLB Dominicana will work towards building the MLB brand, but in the development of local talent rather than just operating as a pure minor league affiliate system. Rather than simply opening academies, training young players and hoping to sign them one day as free agents, MLB teams will draft the same hometown players through their MLB Dominicana team and grow and develop each player until they are ready for North America. MLB Dominicana will not be a money-maker or loser, but rather an investment in the development of talent. As the league becomes more competitive and popular, international merchandising and television rights would develop as well. NFL Europe was seen as a watered down, poor man’s version of the NFL. Football’s answer to Euro Disney. MLB Dominicana will not try to recreate or become Major League Baseball in Dominican. It will become a complimentary league. The potential is there to create a thriving baseball league that will develop talent in a popular baseball market, while creating an organized system of drafting and development of players between MLB teams.
MLB Global would be in charge of finding countries like the Dominican Republic where the creation of MLB leagues is feasible from a talent, political, economical, cultural and social points of view. Mexico and Australia would seem like ideal candidates, as would South Korea and Venezuela depending on political agreement and safety. The baseball talent base in Venezuela for instance, is too rich for Major League teams to ignore. The creation of MLB Venezuela would create a further pipeline of talent by way of investment in the growth and expansion of baseball in such an area.
The ultimate future league that is dreamed of is MLB Cuba. There is no denying the level of talent in Cuban baseball, as seen in international tournaments and WBC showings in years pasts. Given the political and economical turmoil in the region, details of which are beyond the scope of this article, needless to say that many changes would have to occur politically before such a concept could even be discussed. But perhaps the common love of baseball could one day bring Cuba to a system of change economically, which would allow both its country and the sport it loves to thrive. Or perhaps this is just wishful thinking.
The last country to review is Japan. One of the powerhouse baseball countries, Japan has won both of the World Baseball Classic tournaments. With its high level of talent and existing Nippon Professional Baseball league (NPB), Japan may not take too kindly to transforming its current system to MLB Japan. Pride, development, ownership and decision-making all come into play as to who will run individual teams and control the use of players. In such a scenario, as well as other countries with existing leagues and teams that are not interested in being co-run and managed by Major League Baseball and its teams, a different arrangement will be needed.
The proposal is an affiliation structure, whereby MLB teams would have affiliation agreements with NPB teams. As an example, the Colorado Rockies and the Chunichi Dragons could align and have an affiliation agreement. The Rockies and Dragons could cross-promote their teams and products through the affiliation. But most importantly, the transfer of younger eligible players would be between the affiliated teams only. So the Rockies could transfer Casey Weathers to play for the Dragons. The Dragons in turn, could send pitcher Yuta Muto to play in North America for the Rockies organization. Each team would be responsible for the salary of the respective player when playing as part of its professional league. The incentive for the Dragons would be the investment by the Rockies into baseball development in the area, including coaches and infrastructure. The Dragons would have access to more North American players and the Rockies and Dragons would be able to share baseball knowledge and information to better their organizations. In return, aside from the sharing of resources, the Rockies would have access to Dragon players and increase its own prospect pool. Fine tuning would be required as to eligibility and number/types of players that would be able to be transferred. But in such a system, the Rockies would have a vested interest in the players drafted and developed by the Dragons and vice-versa. There would be a high level of trust and commitment to the teams working together as part of the affiliation program in developing teams and players. But if all goes well, both leagues would benefit from working together and would bring an end to the expensive and unproductive posting system. Japan could act as the training ground for the affiliation system and if it works, could lead to the expansion of the NPB by more teams and use of the affiliation system in other countries.
Overall, it is clear that the international baseball scene is very complex and confusing. Major League Baseball appears to be ready to make changes and bring about a new structure and system whereby international players come to North America to play ball. As part of this article, the idea being presented is that such a change will not occur unless Major League Baseball works with the other countries and baseball leagues to make this happen. Whether MLB leagues start forming slowly across the world, including MLB Dominicana, or affiliation systems are put into place between teams from MLB and other countries, some sort of partnership is desperately needed. It will cost MLB and its teams millions of dollars, time and personnel to make MLB Global a reality. While this may not happen tomorrow or ever, we hope that they will at least work to making the dream of global baseball a reality.
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Friday July 1, 2011
MLB reports: When looking at the current state of baseball, some very important changes are on the horizon. MLB reports tackled in the past weeks the topics of MLB realignment, the future of the DH and expanding and changing the playoffs (click on links to view these posts). Whether you are a traditionalist or modern thinker, we can all agree that revisions to the baseball system are coming. To compliment many of the new developments that are coming, we have one last topic that we need to cover. This is a biggie so hold on to your hats: MLB Expansion. Major League Baseball, as slow as it is to adapt, has come to the time that it must acknowledge that the American League and National League need a balanced amount of teams. When contraction didn’t work (Minnesota stayed and Montreal moved to Washington), we were left with thirty MLB teams. To fix the discrepancy, we need sixteen teams per league. As a result, get ready for Major League Baseball to expand to two new cities.
Before anyone stars howling, let me insert a disclaimer. There is no available information yet confirming that MLB will expand. But from all the signs of the state of the game, it appears that expansion is on the horizon. It must be. Expansion will lead to balanced leagues, which will be a must in the addition of more wild card teams. In 1993, MLB added the Colorado Rockies and Florida Marlins. In 1998, the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks joined the mix. Since then, we have gone thirteen years without expansion. Baseball popularity is at an all time high, with the economy slowly starting to rebound. The demand and money are there and anytime the MLB owners can fill their wallets, they will take it. Expansion fees back in 1998 were $130 million. To contrast, the Texas Rangers sold last August for $593 million. Let’s ballpark it and say that each new expansion team could easily bring in $250 million each. That would be $500 million available to be shared by the existing 30 MLB owners. That is a minimum of $16 million per team and even that amount is conservative. Realistically, we could see $25-$30 million per team as the bonus. Money talks and the lure of the big payday will be too much for MLB owners to pass up much longer. By having a balanced schedule, leading to realignment and more wild card teams, together with the revenues that are generated, both teams and players should be happy. It is a win-win for all.
The biggest argument that I have heard against MLB expansion is the dilution of talent. There is a thin amount of pitching to go around as it is, and by adding more teams to the mix, the talent levels will supposedly be at an all-time low. I don’t buy it. Take a look at AA and AAA and how many major league ready players are wasting away due to a lack of opportunity. Some are there for financial considerations, by teams wishing to delay their arbitration and free agency years. I acknowledge that. But there is so much talent at those levels alone that an expansion draft could stock two competitive MLB teams. I truly believe that. Then we should take into account the globalization of the sport. The 2013 World Baseball Classic will feature twelve new countries into the mix. By creating and furthering the interest in baseball around the world, including Great Britain, Germany, France etc., Major League Baseball will create a deeper pool of talent as a result. It will take time and the benefits of adding more countries to the WBC in expanding the players that are generated may not be felt for a decade or longer. But baseball needs to think long-term, not short. Even if there is a dilution of the quality of players for a brief time, it is not unreasonable to think that the world as a whole with its population could stock 32 MLB teams. It currently stocks 30 teams quite well and the problem, if any, is that in the future we will actually have more quality players than available teams to play for.
The main benefit of expansion is the created interested in Major League Baseball in more cities and the added rivalries and intrigue to the game itself. There are baseball hungry fans in many cities that are denied the privilege of watching MLB games live, due to lack of proximity. Adding MLB teams will create more fans in the new cities and surrounding areas. Merchandising sales will increase, jobs will be added and economies will benefit in those cities. As long as each new team has a solid economic plan in creating a business model for itself, from the ballpark to the day-to-day operation of the team, new MLB teams will be cash cows and not drains on their respective cities. There is a reason why cities and potential owners campaign to be awarded a Major League Baseball team. Baseball is a lucrative business. By understanding why expansion is necessary and beneficial, it is time to jump into the candidates.
From everything that I have read and people that I have spoken with, the following is a list of ten potential MLB expansion destinations. From these ten cities, two may end up being the lucky winners. I have included a brief commentary beside each candidate for reference:
1) Las Vegas: There is money in Vegas and demand for the sport. The biggest hindrances are the gambling and economic issues for the area. I think Las Vegas should get a team and baseball may feel the same way.
2) Portland: One of the largest cities without a team, this would be a safe bet for Major League Baseball. This city has been thrown around in almost every discussion on expansion. This one will likely happen.
3) San Antonio: Similar to Portland, but there are already two teams based in Texas. If any area will get three MLB teams, it is New York (see Brooklyn discussion).
4) Sacramento: Is the California market getting saturated? With Oakland having issues and looking to a move to San Jose, there may be alarm bells that hinder Sacramento. There is also a chance the city will lose its NBA team which does not help from an image standpoint.
5) Orlando: More teams to Florida? The Rays aren’t exactly busting at the gate and the Marlins are moving to Miami next year. I could see the Rays moving if they do not get a new stadium, so expansion will likely be held off here for now.
6) Nashville/Memphis: Both are great cities but with other viable markets available, Nashville/Memphis are a long-shot.
7) Mexico City: This is the sexy pick if Major League Baseball truly wants to become international. The travel logistics could make this one very difficult. For a sport that is slow to evolve, this is too much change, too soon.
8) Vancouver or Montreal: Stop snickering as this could happen. Ok, not Montreal, but Vancouver is a possibility. After the loss of the Expos, I cannot see baseball ever going back to Quebec. Then when we account for the fact that Vancouver lost its NBA team, baseball may be scared off from these areas as being non-viable. The Toronto Blue Jays sit middle-in-the-pack for attendance and I think MLB is satisfied with one Canadian squad. Happy Canada Day to all the Canucks reading this article and enjoy the Jays this weekend. But as far as more Canadian teams in baseball, I am sorry but I do not see it happening. Ever.
9) Brooklyn: The talk of the Nets coming to Brooklyn soon has sparked renewed interest in the area for baseball. The Brooklyn Dodgers will never come back to existence, but a new expansion team might. Given baseball’s rich history and love of everything retro, I really like this selection. Don’t discount the power of New York, as it is one of the central hubs of sport. I only give this one a 25% chance of happening, but a very solid 25.
10) New Orleans: A feel-good pick, given the tragedy suffered by the city. But on an economic and rational basis, it is difficult to envision bringing a new baseball team coming to a rebuilding area that still is suffering major financial issues.
That concludes today’s discussion on MLB expansion. As a starting point for the topic, I am sure that this will not be the last we hear about it. Given that MLB works in secret ways often, don’t be surprised if an announcement on two new expansion teams comes out of left field one day. While it would be fun to hold a competition and have cities campaign for selection, MLB may not want to run the risk of alienating and upsetting teams that are not chosen. At the end of the day, the key for baseball will be to get the right cities and owners in place. This will happen in the next year or two and should be an interesting process. Will we see the Portland Sluggers, Las Vegas Aliens or Brooklyn Bombers? Time will tell on that one. What we can be sure is that the face of Major League Baseball over the next few years will change substantially. From the teams, to the playoffs and divisions. Change is in the air as baseball continues to evolve with the times.
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