With MLB commissioner Rob Manfred's recent comments about the viability of Las Vegas as a big league market, we turned to some of our Insiders to see what they think about baseball's expansion possibilities, whether they want to see it in cities from Las Vegas to Montreal to points south of the border, and who should own the Expos' history, anyway?
1. Baseball is in its longest expansion drought since its first expansion in 1961. Do you want to see the game expand, and if so, why?
Jim Bowden: I want to see baseball expand, by two teams and for two reasons. First, it gets us to 16 teams per league, so there doesn't have to be an interleague game played every day. If we are not going to have one rule on the DH, then we shouldn't have to have so many interleague games. This would allow for four divisions of four teams each. It will also give baseball an opportunity to make radical changes in the divisional alignments so they make more sense geographically.
Second, the game needs another team in the Pacific or Mountain time zones to help with scheduling, as well as a second club in Canada. The city of Montreal deserves another chance. If they can get the right stadium built and a fixed season-ticket base, there is no reason that city shouldn't succeed the next time around.
However, let's remember commissioner Rob Manfred has said there will be no expansion until the stadium issues are resolved in Tampa Bay and Oakland.
David Schoenfield: I'm good with 30 teams right now. Move the A's to San Jose, move the Rays and then think about expansion. I dislike the idea of holding cities hostage with the threat of moving, but those are two franchises that have struggled to draw and play in crappy stadiums, and other franchises are tired of supporting them.
There is some logic to adding two teams to create two 16-team leagues, presumably four divisions of four teams apiece. While ending the minor headache of having at least one interleague series at all times, it creates a new one: How would you set up the playoffs? Two wild-card teams in each league, with the two best division winners getting a first-round bye? But that would create an even longer postseason than we have now -- and we don't need that.
As for cities, Montreal supported their team very well for much of the 1980s, ranking third in the NL attendance from 1981-83. Charlotte is the largest metropolitan area without a team, not counting Riverside-San Bernardino, California, which is driving distance from Los Angeles. Austin is another rapidly growing city, although its metro area is still smaller than those of Kansas City or Cleveland, but larger than Milwaukee's.
Brad Doolittle: I want expansion. Revenues are at all-time highs, with a growth trend that shows no signs of abating. There are several attractive open markets. The game could use two more teams, as 32 is an ideal figure. The stadium situation on Oakland is on the verge of being rectified, and if baseball starts hunting for new markets, that puts pressure on the Rays to put up or shut up.