Sports Opinion & Analysis

On Relocation, Part 2-of-4: Major League Baseball

In MLB on June 27, 2012 at 10:24 am

Unlike my NHL article, this go-around I’m not going to list the teams that need to relocate and then, at the very end, list all the cities that are most deserving of an MLB franchise. I’m switching this up because A) I don’t want to seem pedestrian, and B) that mode doesn’t coincide with the issues facing the MLB.

Apples to oranges, you know?

MLB team location map, as of 2011. The current map is virtually the same, except the Florida Marlins are now the Miami Marlins and their colors are different.

As it is right now, the league’s divisions are already aligned pretty perfectly. Doing any major readjustment without considering the geographical region where a potentially relocating team already resides, would cause further divisional adjustments and make the act of relocating an entire professional sports franchise even more arduous than it is.

Instead, each team will be mentioned, and then the city (cities) that would best suit them will be considered.

Here we go.

Team to Move: Oakland A’s

After all the years of Billy Beane managing the A’s in one of the biggest market-shares in the nation like it was located in a Podunk, backwoods small town, the city of Oakland is no longer an economically viable location for any professional sports team.

The A’s in Oakland now refers to the holes who occupy the impoverished city, shuts down all the ports, and burns an American flag on the steps of city hall.

The Warriors have already announced they’re moving across the new Bay Bridge, and the A’s should follow suit (as fast as they can). While hipsters from across the bay are moving in troves to Oakland (because they can no longer afford their rent in San Francisco), and the city is experiencing a rewhitelization “revitalization,” it does not have the corporate funds and affluent population for potential season-ticket holders that a team, especially one in the pricey Bay Area, needs in order to thrive.

As sad as it is, especially when you consider all the history of the A’s in the East Bay, the city is now dead, and the A’s should play elsewhere. It is especially more difficult for the team to play in an economically struggling location because they play in a two-team region. If there was no other competition, they would be able to succeed due to a larger potential consumer base, but with the Giants across the water, that’s not going to happen. Instead, the A’s need to find a place where they can build a stadium people want to flock to, so they can make money and fund a winning team.

Where Should They Move: San Jose, Sacramento, Portland

Remember when the San Francisco Giants were on the verge of moving to Toronto in 1976, and then St. Petersburg in 1993? Remember when we almost rooted for the Tampa Bay Giants? Remember when Wally Haas, the late owner of the A’s,  gave the Giants exclusive rights to San Jose and the South Bay, all so the team could potentially find a home for a new stadium (which they didn’t use anyway), and keep the northern-California rivalry intact? Remember all the years the Giants were the inconsequential joke of the Bay Area, and the A’s were the ones who brought home title after title?

You probably don’t. And the Giants would love to keep it that way.

Still better than the Rays first uniform.

As it is right now, the A’s are trying to build a new stadium in the more viable San Jose-area, and the Giants are doing everything they can to muscle that franchise out of their ‘rightful’ territory.

Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. It’s amazing how brave you get after winning one title after 60-years of ineptitude.

Regardless of that, the first location the A’s need to purse (and are doing so in full-force) is San Jose. Located in a tech-company region, the area is populated by corporations who can fund the team through suites, and wealthy residents who can sustain a healthy season-ticket revenue. It’s also relatively close enough to the East Bay that the already established fan base can still attend games. With every reason that the team should move to San Jose concerning money, it sounds as if the team wishes to sell out by moving there, right?

This isn’t about selling out so much as it is about putting the team in a prosperous location to fund (and reinstate) the team’s long legacy of winning baseball.

Potentially awesome San Jose stadium.

Okay, so it’s totally about selling out, but San Jose would be the best place to sell out, especially if the MLB wants to keep the rivalry as close to its current form as possible.

If not, then the second best location for the team would be Sacramento.

Before everyone gets all huffy over Sacramento’s potential inability to prevent their lackluster basketball team which they already have from relocating (and then ask why do they deserve a baseball team as well?), think of this: when the Kings were playing well, Arco Arena was sold out every night, regardless of what a sinkhole the place is. The city already has the River Cats (the minor league affiliate to the A’s), which is also the most profitable minor league team in the entire country. Raley Field, the stadium where the River Cats play, was built with the idea of the A’s one day moving there. The foundations have already been dug, and all that needs to happen for the team to play in a new stadium in Sacramento is half the construction it would require to build a new stadium anywhere else. Not only that, but Sacramento wants the team there.

Future home of the A’s?

Don’t blame the city of Sacramento for the Kings horrible records causing the city to not rally around the Maloofs (the owners), a family that still owes $70 million dollars to the city for Arco (and haven’t paid a penny on anything but the interest since the arena was built). Don’t blame the residents for giving up on a family who fail year-after-year-after-year to produce a winning basketball team, and make some of the worst personnel moves in all of the NBA (the Phoenix Suns are the only team that might actually have them beat). Sacramento tried to support the Maloofs recently, and the spoiled brat brothers supposedly acted like Kim Jung Il.

If Major League Baseball fails to keep the A’s rivalry as close to its current form by allowing the team to move to San Jose, Sacramento would be the next most likely, and best suited, location. While it would no longer be a Bay Series anymore, it would still be a Northern-California one. It would be the Bay vs. the Valley. It would still work.

The last option would be moving the team to Portland because Portland quite frankly just needs a professional baseball team. It wouldn’t keep the rivalry in tact, but at least the state of Oregon has a great tradition of college baseball (as of lately), and sports in general (watch any University of Oregon or Oregon State game. It doesn’t matter the sport, just watch it). Blazers’ fans are some of the best in all of basketball. Like Seattle, a few hundred miles north, the people of Portland are crazy about their sports, and any team, regardless of the sport, would thrive there.

Still, San Jose makes the most logical sense, followed by Sacramento. Portland should still receive a team, just an expansion one. The Plaid-Wearing Lumberjacks or something.

Team to Move: Tampa Bay Rays

Since we were talking about Tampa Bay a little bit ago, let’s talk about the Rays.

Soooooooo much better than their first logo.

The thing about the Tampa Bay Rays is that they don’t play in Tampa. They play in St. Petersburg, which is near Tampa, but that’s sort of like saying “We’re going to Tahoe,” and then you never leave Reno.

The team also plays at Tropicana Field, which sounds fun and festive, but is pretty much the biggest dump you’ll ever visit. This is even when the place isn’t struck by lightning and the lights are suddenly turning off in the middle of nationally televised game, or glass isn’t raining down from the roof, or whatever. It’s also located in quite possibly the worst location they could have picked for the Tampa Bay area.

Think of it this way: if you lived on the opposite side of Tampa and you wanted to go to a Rays game, you would have to get on the freeway, drive through downtown Tampa, then travel across the bay, then drive through downtown St. Petersburg, and then come to a road that bottlenecks to the stadium. This would take hours of your life.

Oh, and almost all the games start right around rush hour. Good luck with that.

This is not an actual picture of Rays fans headed to a game. A picture of only two cars is needed for that.

If anything, Rays fans are probably some of the best baseball has to offer, because if they’ve ever made the journey to go see their team play, even once, they have probably given more of their precious day then most of us will give our team in a lifetime.

They shouldn’t be punished for this.

Where They Should Move: Tampa, Orlando or Charlotte

To make it simple, the team should just move across the bay into Tampa. It’s the bigger city anyway, and more fans would able to attend the games if the team played in the more easily accessible and populated area. It’s really not that difficult.

Granted, finding funding and real estate and everything else to build the stadium is what is difficult, and that’s part of the reason the team is still playing in a giant domed safety hazard, and not somewhere else. Still, Tampa (as proven by all the years of spring training), is a baseball town, and taking away the team now, especially when they are winning every pennant and wildcard they can (and in the most dramatic fashion possible), would be a tragedy to the area and a missed opportunity for baseball in general.

But if they do miss the opportunity, the team should relocate to Orlando.

Orlando already has the Magic, and this wouldn’t be their first rodeo with professional sports. They’d know how to handle it and how to support it. They are obviously financially secure enough to support a team (thank you Disney World). Also, if the Rays moved there, they would still be in Florida and they wouldn’t have to change their name to something more geographically appropriate to whatever their new destination would. Florida can rightfully maintain their status as another really big state with more than one team (California, Texas, New York).

The last option would be Charlotte, North Carolina.

Southern metropolis.

After New York, Charlotte is the second biggest banking center in the United States. Look it up if you don’t believe me. It’s partly due to gold being discovered there before the more famous rush in California, and every bank (that could) at the time moved there to set up shop. After all the years, they’ve never left.

My point is, Charlotte is not a country bumpkin, dirty south village. It already had a decent professional basketball team that was stolen away, and then replaced with a new one that has the worst logo/uniforms/players/record in the league. It already has an NFL team with the hottest new quarterback throwing for them. It’s inhabitants are usually Duke/UNC/NC State grads (universities that all know their sports) and those grads probably went to a few Durham Bulls games while living in the Triangle. Charlotte is a prosperous community and deserves to represent a Major League Baseball team. Otherwise, they’ll still be represented by the Braves (244 miles away), or the Nationals (399 miles away), or the Reds (469 miles away). Those are the closest teams and that’s not really being ‘represented.’ Charlotte is just too metropolitan to be left out of the conversation anymore.

Still, the residents and fans in Tampa Bay deserve a shot at keeping their team. The team should relocate to Tampa, and if that can’t work, they should keep Florida a two-team state and move to Orlando. Charlotte deserves a team, but like Portland, an expansion one.

Team to Move: San Diego Padres

This will never happen, but it was still really tough suggesting this relocation because before my city was granted an expansion team, I used to go to Padres games while in San Diego on vacation. They were my first team, if you will.

As I mentioned in a previous article, the Padres are currently up for sale, and local icons Phil Mickelson and Tony Gwynn are competing to try to buy the team (actually, their purchasing groups are competing, and with the revelation that Gwynn owes more than $400,000 in back taxes, it doesn’t look like much of a competition anymore). The team is in flux, but that still doesn’t mean they are at risk of relocation. Petco Park is one of the best places in the country to watch a baseball game, and it’s brand-spanking-new. No way the city or franchise would walk after all the history in San Diego, the fan base, and recently constructing one of the best ballpark’s in the league.

But California undeservedly has five major league baseball teams. It was either choosing the Padres to move, or

 The Anaheim Angels.

Champion of the suburbs.

I would much rather prefer the Angels to move because of two fallacies that contribute to their existence in Anaheim.

The first fallacy regards the idea that Anaheim is Los Angeles. If that’s the case, I still believe, with rare exception (only baseball, and only New York and Chicago) no one city deserves two teams in the same sports. Therefore the Angels should be forced to move to another city so another large population can have the privilege of rooting for a team.

If Anaheim isn’t Los Angeles, which it isn’t, and is just a suburb of the city, which it is, it doesn’t deserves a team, especially when the city a few miles away already has one. This is more-or-less a continuation of my argument as to why the Ducks should relocate out of Anaheim as well. Read that, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Either way, preferably I would keep the Padres in San Diego, because San Diego is two hours (give-or-take with traffic) away from Los Angeles, and is an entirely different community than LA. Unfortunately, the Angels sort of have the trump card (a World Series win), and if that was good enough to prevent the Diamondbacks from having switch into the American League, while the Astro’s (who have been around much longer), have to switch instead, it should be good enough to prevent a team from having to relocate.

Either way, neither of these teams are going anywhere, but they should. And there is one place in particular that deserves them.

Where they should move: Las Vegas

If professional athletes don’t have enough avenues to get in trouble with, now we can place them in close proximity to hookers and gambling.

Either way, The Strip needs a professional sports team that isn’t football. If hockey or basketball doesn’t make it there first, then one of the California teams needs to bite the bullet and move to Nevada. But only one of the teams from Southern California. If granted an expansion team, a new resident in Vegas would only make the southwest even more crowded than it already is. California already has more teams than it deserves, and one of those teams should offer another large population a chance at their own legacy.

Something’s got to give.

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  1. Hopefully Selig reads this! I like Angels to Vegas, A’s to San Jose, Rays to Tampa(fans deserve new ballpark in TAMPA!) expansion in Portland and Charlotte.

  2. A thank you good sir. Although, knowing Selig (not personally of course), even if he read it, i doubt he would care!

  3. Check out NewBallpark.org for information about the A’s ballpark hunt. Great resource.

    Sacramento, however, will not work for the A’s. The corporate support is not there, and Ralley Field, though designed to be expandable, is not due to how it was actually built.

    San Jose is really the obvious place, and maybe only place.

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