It appears that for the first time since the 1990s that Major League Baseball has the “e-word” on its mind.
No, no…not errors. Not extra bases. A more impactful “e” word.
Expansion. And quite possibly, Expos.
But, do not take my word for it. Take the word of MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, who spoke a few days ago in New York with the Associated Press Sports Editors.
“Baseball’s a growth sport, a growth business, [and] sooner or later, growth businesses expand,” he said. “I do see expansion as a longer-term proposition.”
Manfred rationalized his position in the context of transitioning from three five-team divisions in each league to four four-team divisions.
“Fours work better than fives from a scheduling perspective—significantly better,” Manfred said.
If, and according to Manfred, when such an expansion was to occur for Major League Baseball, it would be the first time the league expanded since 1998.
That was the year MLB blazed into Tampa Bay and Arizona with the additions of the (Devil) Rays and the Diamondbacks, respectively.
Prior to that, MLB expanded in the early 1990s with its first foray into the Sunshine State of Florida by way of the Marlins. The Colorado Rockies were also added and five years after MLB arrived in Denver, Coors Field hosted the MLB All-Star Game.
Manfred did say that before expansion were to become a reality, ballpark snafus in Tampa with the Rays and Oakland with the Athletics had to be straightened out.
Stuart Sternberg, has reiterated his commitment to finding a new stadium in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area for the Rays, but his team has also been cited as a candidate for relocation.
The A’s, in the past, once talked about moving to Fremont—as well as building a new stadium in San Jose. They have been blocked on numerous occasions by their Bay Area compatriots, the San Francisco Giants, as well as by Major League Baseball since the Giants have rights to the San Jose media market.
— Stephane Rousseau (@rousseau1010) April 22, 2016
The primary city sure to get attention on any relocation front is Montreal—a city that has been without baseball since 2004 when the Expos relocated from Quebec to the Nation’s Capital and became the Nationals.
Quebecois have made their presences known at exhibition games the past few years at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium to let Park Avenue know it wants its Expos back. This year, an exhibition between the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays on April 1 at The Big O drew over 100,000 fans.
Other cities that could be potential candidates for expansion/relocation include Portland, Vancouver, Mexico City, and Charlotte.