Ramblings …

Just wondering … Do the craps tables in Las Vegas offer special promotions today?

As is customary, MLB Commish, Rob Manfred, addressed the media yesterday as the All-Star break commenced.  One of the subjects he touched on was MLB expansion.  As I have pointed out in the past, having two leagues with 15 teams in each league poses more than a couple of scheduling problems and having 16 teams in each league would be much simpler.  The Commish did not shy away from saying that he would consider expansion and made two points:

  1. MLB recognizes that two existing teams have attendance problems that just might be mitigated with a newer/better stadium for those teams.  The Oakland Coliseum is an albatross around the neck of the Oakland A’s; there are many folks who assert that the Tampa Bay Rays’ attendance woes are caused in large part by their stadium and its location.  Manfred said that MLB’s priority was to “resolve the stadium situations” in these two cities.
  2. The Commish then mentioned 3 cities that he said were “great candidates” for expansion once Oakland and Tampa were taken care of.  Those would be Montreal, Charlotte and Mexico City.

You can read about Manfred’s remarks here.

Let me comment on the three cities that the Commish mentioned yesterday:

  1. Montreal:  The city supported the Expos for years until the team was forced to play in the stadium built for the Olympic Games in Montreal.  Take that white elephant out of the picture, and Montreal could be an excellent addition to MLB creating a natural rivalry with Toronto as well as with Boston and New York.
  2. Charlotte:  The city has the right demographics but I have a nagging unease about putting baseball there.  The southeastern US is “football country” – – specifically “college football country”.  Next comes “basketball” – – specifically “college basketball”.  Baseball is a big deal in the Northeast but not nearly such a big deal in the Southeast.  Check out the teams in the Southeast and ask which ones are attendance monsters.  Atlanta?  Hardly, they don’t always sell out playoff games.  Miami?  Get serious.  Tampa?  See above.
  3. Mexico City:  Obviously, this locale tips a hat to globalization and making the MLB brand “international”.  There are surely enough people in Mexico City to support a team; the city proper has a population of about 8.2 million people and the “metro area” is home to 21 million.  However, I wonder if there is enough money in the hands of enough baseball fans there to do things like buy luxury suites and/or to pay the Mexican equivalent of 50-75 dollars per game for half decent seats.

If MLB wants to get outside the “lower 48” with franchises, Montreal and Vancouver in Canada would seem to be better choices to me.  If MLB wants to have a footprint in Latin America, they could also consider Puerto Rico.  Moreover, if MLB moves with its normal speed on this issue, they might want to keep Havana open as an option.  It might take MLB so long to get around to this that both Castro brothers might no longer be exchanging oxygen in the biosphere and relations between Cuba and the US might be fully normalized by then.

Speaking about globalization and possible international expansions, the NFL wants to play a game in China and the target date is Opening Week in 2019.  Some reports say that the LA Rams will be the host team for the game.  Brad Dickson of the Omaha World-Herald reacted to that news with this comment:

“The NFL may open 2019 with a game in China. A rules expert would explain holding and pass-interference calls to the Chinese fans. Maybe then the Chinese fans can explain them to us.”

In going through one of Brad Dickson’s columns, I also came across the following comment

“Texas signed a marketing deal to name Corona as the official beer of Longhorn athletics. To kick off the promotion, Bevo blew a 0.215 on a Breathalyzer.”

Forget about poor Bevo for a minute.  Also, forget about the fact that more than a few of the Texas student body are underage and it might be a tad unseemly for the school to have a brand of beer as a “corporate partner”.  Forget that UT-Austin is a “dry campus” and beer is only sold at athletic events.

This act by the Athletic Department – and with de minimis the acquiescence/concurrence of the Lord High Pooh-bahs at the school – demonstrates why college athletic departments need to be taxable entities.  They are businesses run for a profit – or at least the intention of making a profit.  They are not tax-exempt educational entities; they should be separate and distinct from the universities that they represent and they should keep their books to GAAP and IRS standards and pay taxes as appropriate.  You can read more about this sponsorship deal in this link to a report in the Dallas News.

Finally, let me complete a Brad Dickson trifecta today with this comment from his column, Breaking Brad, in the Omaha World-Herald:

“Russia has reportedly developed a missile that’s described as ‘capable of destroying Texas.’ So apparently Kremlin officials have seen the Longhorn Network.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



6 thoughts on “Ramblings …”

  1. I smirked when I saw your comment above relations being “normalized” with Havana. Under the current situation, nothing could be normalized…any actions by those in power today would have to be referenced as “abnormalized.”

    1. Gary:

      By the time MLB settles things in both Oakland and Tampa and then pulls together a “blue-ribbon panel” to figure out where to expand, all of the players in the current political structures in the US and Cuba could well be “out of the picture”…

  2. There are at least five bigger issues than a stadium and location in Tampa Bay. Stadiums aren’t always the answer. Just ask Minnesota and Miami

    1. Dave:

      The Rays and “baseball people” seem to fall back on the stadium itself and its “inconvenient location” as the bedrock reasons for the Rays’ lack of fan support. If they get a new stadium and there is still a lack of support, then it may be the case that the Rays need to be moved. That would seem to be the situation in Miami and yet it is possible that Jeffrey Loria will get $1.2B for a team that cannot draw flies…

      1. I think you make my point. Miami said a new stadium in a different location was the answer and that did not prove to be true. All the “baseball people” want to do is build Sternberg a new stadium with tax payer money. They couldn’t care less if it draws more fans. Then some idiot will pay Sternberg a billion dollars for the Rays. It’s all about the money. Nobody cares about the fans.

        1. Dave:

          Hard to argue with any of your comments here; everything in pro sports is about the money.

          For me – a fan who has no ties to Florida or the Tampa/St. Pete region of Florida – the Rays’ attendance situation over the past decade or so is not a good one. Even after playoff years and visits to the World Series, the attendance was mediocre at best. I never advocate for taxpayer funding for stadiums and in this case I would not want that to be considered as “the cure-all”. However, something needs to be done and perhaps the right answer is that the team needs to move from that part of the world to somewhere else – – like maybe one of the 3 cities that the Commish mentioned as potential expansion sites. I do not pretend to understand the politics or the economy or the social “situations” in the Tampa/St. Pete area; looking at the situation from afar, I believe that something – presumably something positive – has to be done here.

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