We are closing in on Opening Day for MLB and over the last month or so, I have read a couple of reports that I find disquieting. One report from about a month ago said that MLB Commish, Rob Manfred, “continues to be optimistic about Montreal as a venue for baseball”. That statement made me wince just a bit until I read that he also said he does not see MLB expanding to go back into Montreal as a “venue for baseball”.
Let me be clear here. I have no animosity about the city of Montreal or about having another Canadian team in MLB; there is no territoriality in my feelings here. I am simply opposed to any expansion of MLB into any market – new or recycled – for a pretty simple reason:
There is an insufficiency of quality pitching to go around for 30 MLB teams as things stand today.
If MLB were to add 2 teams (adding an odd number of teams would be a scheduling nightmare), that would add about 20 – 22 more pitching slots to MLB that would need to be filled.
As far as I am concerned, I need that situation about as much as former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali needs another Boutros.
One of the newspapers in Montreal has suggested that perhaps Montreal and Tampa might “share” the Tampa Bay Rays since the Rays continue to have attendance woes in St. Petersburg. While that might sound alluring at first, I doubt that whatever fanbase the Rays might have along the Florida Gulf Coast would take kindly to having the Rays play a couple dozen of their home games about 1300 miles to the north. I know that the Rays are “studying” the possibilities for a new stadium site in the Tampa/St. Pete area with the idea that a new stadium in a more favorable locale will boost attendance in that market. Taking some of the games out of that market will not ease the processes that might lead to a new stadium. The suggestion from the Montreal paper is probably well-meaning but it would be short-sighted for the Rays or for MLB to consider it for more than a moment.
If that was all the “chatter” about MLB expansion, I would have forgotten that suggestion about sharing a franchise between Tampa and Montreal. However, in other circumstances, reports said that Manfred mentioned future expansion sites in the US (Charlotte, Portland and San Antonio) and said that even further into the future MLB might think of expanding to Mexico. Sorry, but I do not want to hear about any of that…
And then, I read in the Austin Business Journal that the Commish said he would like to see MLB expand to 32 teams sometime after 2020. Why was this in the Austin Business Journal? Well, some folks have opined that Austin would be a potential landing place for a new MLB franchise. You can read here why this particular author believes such thinking is off base – so to speak. Nonetheless, the idea of “expansion” remains in the public discourse probably meaning that some of the folks in MLB are giving this much more serious consideration than I would wish for.
In another bit of baseball economic news, the NY Mets are reaping the benefits of their post-season successes from last year. According to the NY Post, season ticket sales for the Mets are double what they were in the last week of March in 2015. In addition, group sales are up about 33% and advance sales for tickets to individual games are up almost 25%. Obviously, winning plays a major part in these increases but give credit to the folks on the business side of the Mets’ franchise for thinking ahead.
Last season as the Mets were making their push to get to the playoffs, the team began to market season tickets for 2016 with the promise that people who bought 2016 tickets would get good seating options for the 2015 playoff games. Even though the season is not that far off – the Mets open on the road and do not have a home game until 8 April – the team continues to sell season tickets because they have a few “milestone games” on the schedule this year and as of now the only way to get tix to those games is to buy season packages. The “milestone games” include:
August 1 and August 2: Mets host Yankees
July 29 – July 31: Mike Piazza Retirement/Hall of Fame Weekend: Mets host Rockies
May 28: – 30th Reunion of 1986 Championship Team: Mets host Dodgers
Who knows? If the Mets continue to win and keep ticket sales booming the way they are, they may recoup all of the money for the owners that Bernie Madoff hooked them for…
I said above that talk about MLB expansion was not something I wanted to hear about; well, here is something even worse. Consider this item from Bob Molinaro in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:
“Something different: Whether it’s here by popular demand or not, there’s a website in this country that has started to offer daily fantasy game wagering on sumo wrestling in Japan. The fantasy world just got a little weirder. And fatter.”
Does not the world have enough fantasy sports as it is? Really, sumo wrestling? What’s next? Daily fantasy synchronized swimming?
Finally, here are two comments from Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel that just seem to go together:
“My operatives tell me that NASCAR driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. got fellow NASCAR driver Danica Patrick the same Valentine’s Day gift as always: A dozen long-stemmed socket wrenches.”
“Did you see where Danica Patrick was fined $20,000 by NASCAR for angrily walking near the race track after she wrecked last week? Judging by her NASCAR finishes, angrily walking might get Danica to the finish line quicker than actually driving.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………