A look at the ten most likely places for a new MLB club
It seems that nearly every week, articles surrounding the potential relocation of the A’s and Rays surface. A panel looking into a potential San Jose relocation for the A’s has been gridlocked since 2009 (and remember, the A’s have been looking to move to San Jose for a heck of a lot longer than that). The Rays haven’t been far behind in their efforts to get out of Tropicana Field. Whether it’s the commute for fans to get to the domed stadium, the aesthetics, or the need to be closer to an urban core, it seems that Tampa Bay has been seeking a new ballpark for just as long. Relocation for these two clubs is crucial.
Another thing that comes up less frequently but has extra meaning going into 2013 is expansion. With the Astros moving into the AL West, the American League and National League will now be balanced at 15 clubs a piece. The problem is that 15 is an odd number, and as a result, interleague will become a daily affair. It’s unlikely that’s something that the league wanted, so getting to 32 clubs would take care of that matter. That would mean revenues spread thinner with two extra mouths to feed. Additionally, it’s no given that one or both wouldn’t be revenue-sharing takers, and trying to get ballparks built is no easy feat in this economy. So, 30 is a number that seems to suit the “Big Four” sports leagues in North America. The NBA has it. Ditto for the NHL. Currently, only the NFL—which has the advantage of being highly centralized (revenues are shared more evenly across the franchises) and exceptionally popular—is the exception at 32 clubs.
In the early 1960s, Baseball feared the rising number of Latinos in the game, but in this area, at least, the game has been a positive example for tolerance.
Harry “Cookie” Lavagetto played second and third base for the Pirates and Dodgers in the 1930s and 40s and remains known for delivering one of the great moments in World Series history, the pinch-hit double that broke up Bill Bevens’ no-hitter with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 4 of the 1947 World Series. Ironically, it was his last hit in the majors—not even Ted Williams got a police escort off the field after his last hit. After being cut by the Dodgers, Lavagetto played for some excellent Pacific Coast League teams with his hometown Oakland Oaks, including the 1948 league champions, then went on to a long career as a coach and manager.
Lavagetto was the last manager of the original Washington Senators and the first manager of the Minnesota Twins. It was in the latter capacity that he gave the 1961 interview, titled “The Challenge from Latin-America” in Baseball Digest. Author Dick Gordon wrote:
While there were only 45 Latins (or seven percent of the of the total) on major league rosters this spring, the number is steadily increasing. And the fact that there are an estimated 500 of them in organized ball already indicates the threat of a Castro etc. “invasion” not by soldiers armed with rifles but by athletes with rifle arms.
The Pirates are one of baseball's most inept franchises. Does the small market excuse carry any weight?
Of course, Pittsburgh is a small market club. The real question is how small relative to the other markets. Here's a revised and updated version of the population section of the "Take to Your Beds!" table:
Baseball, like every other field of athletics, is better today than it was in the past. Derek Zumsteg explains why.
In 1936, Babe Ruth was out of baseball. Jesse Owens won four gold medals at the Berlin Olympics. He ran the 100-meter dash in 10.3 seconds to tie the world record. He set Olympic record in the long jump at 26'5" and a quarter, and in the 200-meter dash at 20.7 seconds. Owens' leg of the 400m relay set records as well.
Nate Silver plays cartographer in this edition of Lies, Damned Lies, in search of untapped sources of amateur talent in the U.S.
Major league teams, which collectively are responsible for drafting nearly 1500 players every year--a far bigger burden than their counterparts in other sports face--are keenly aware of the differences. It simply isn't possible, or at least not economically feasible, to develop an accurate scouting report for every amateur prospect in the country. While the top national prospects will be scouted by everyone, teams go regional as the draft moves into its later rounds, focusing on players from their home territories (as the Braves do) or on players from regions in which the level of competition if perceived to be the highest--California, Florida, and the Southwest.
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Mike Jones' market-size research,
Kansas City is the smallest market with a major-league team. Jones pegs it as the 39th-largest market in the country, based
largely on information from Nielsen. Using the latest data from the Census Bureau (which operates one of the most data-intensive
sites you'll ever find at www.census.gov),
there were about 1,756,000 people in the Kansas City Metropolitan Statistical Area in 1999, as
compared to New York's 20,197,000.
K.C. has one team. New York has two. Forbes estimates that the two New York teams took in $384 million in revenue last
year. Kansas City? $85MM. If the total revenue pool of a city is divided evenly by the teams in it (This may not be the case.
I've seen it argued that instead of splitting a market, adding a second team only causes the first team's revenues to drop by
.8, which is attributed to increased interest in baseball, rivalries, and so forth), a third team in New York would make $125MM.
That's a cool $40MM more every year.