Results tagged ‘ Major League Baseball ’

Global Draft, Changes to Signing Pools, Qualifying Offers Part of Ten Point Draft Makeover

The key to any successful long term winning effort more than ever in today’s MLB depends on a quality player development program. Teams rely heavily on the domestic draft and international scouting to infuse the pipeline with young talent that will eventually play in the big leagues. As we all know, baseball has tried to level the playing field, with caps in place on how much a team spends internationally and within the domestic draft. Both procedures have their good and bad qualities and what follows is the New Deal plan to improve this process.

One of the big complaints is that the penalty for exceeding the international spending limits, the inability to sign players for more than 300 thousand dollars during the next 1 or 2 seasons has proven to be no deterrent. Teams that go over the amount are not impeded from spending huge sums of money once the limit has been exceeded, think of it as a credit limit of 5 thousand dollars to spend. Nothing exists to stop you from taking it to 10, 20, 50 thousand over the limit, other than your own budget. So if you can afford the large fee that comes with blowing through the limit, what good does the limit serve in the first place? The penalty for going over by 15% is no more severe than the penalty for going over by 150%. IN addition, teams can certainly load up on lower cost prospects and a team that hits on one player out of 10 signed for 300K each will still reap a true benefit even when the 300K contract caps are enforced for the following one or two seasons, because the international pools do not go away, just the size of how big your contract offers are to those prospects.

Second is the issue concerning the draft caps, the draft slots teams value much more greatly. They have not shown any willingness to blow through the draft budget for fear of losing a first round pick, even though teams will gladly give up that same pick for an aging free agent. These players in theory may offer more in terms of a known quality but less future upside, as opposed to over spending for more prospects who are unknown beyond their amateur ability, even if the ceiling is higher. The major problem with the system as many have documented, is the incentive to lose as much as possible. When only two or three teams take this approach, the reward is huge because the value of the top three picks is so much greater. IN 2015, the difference between pick #1 and pick #4 was around 3 million bucks, the difference between picks 5 and 20 was half that. So in a season like 2016 with the Reds, Brewers, Phillies, and Braves all clearly playing for the future, plus other weak teams like the Athletics, Rockies, and Padres in the running for those worst records, how well a team does may depend less on its luck of the draft order from 1-5, and more with how much money it can allocate to the obtaining of top talent. This was how the Astros, who had a huge hall of money due to a pair of top five picks, were able to get three players viewed as top 10 talents, by paying under slot value on two of them and then going well over the assigned value with their first pick in the second round.

I have many solutions that I believe MLB and the players should all consider as part of the next CBA to solve these issues. Before I go down the list of changes, lets first be clear on this point, one worldwide draft. OK, many will say it can’t happen, here is how it can. First, the Major League Baseball Players Association has by its own design not represented minor league or amateur players, so MLB is governed not by what MLBPA wants, but rather by the laws of the US and Canada with respect to employment and immigration of foreign players. Now with that out of the way, my 10 point plan that changes the MLB draft.

1, move the draft to the Wednesday through Friday during the week of the College World Series. The third and decisive game could be played on that Wednesday evening and prior to that game, the first round of the draft takes place. Rounds 2-20 would be on Thursday, 21-40 on Friday.

2, have regional draft combines to evaluate the health of players. Offer 10 of them around the US, including one in Hawaii. Offer three in Canada, one each in Mexico, Japan, Australia, two in Europe, and one in South Africa. Participation would not be mandatory but MLB should take a page from the NFL so that Brady Aiken 2.0 can be easier to avoid.

3, With one combined draft, the pools for international and domestic players would be combined into one and teams would be able to spend more freely on who they believe is the best player. The pools would be less extreme in the difference of total dollars, the average combined international and domestic draft pools for top 10 picks in 2015 was just over 10,270,000, with over 70% of this focused on the domestic draft. However, the Astros had over 17 million in the draft pool, the Mets had less than 4 million, while international allotments ranged from just under 2 million for the Nationals and Angels, to over 5 million for the Diamondbacks. Rather than have a slot value system that starts very steep in its decline before leveling off, the slope down the curve if you will should be more gradual. I would propose a pool of 12 million for the worst team, 8 million for the best team, even if first round picks are lost. This would encourage teams to spend more in the free agent market, as they would lose just draft picks, not money with which to also sign them when dealing with those players tied to qualifying offers. Teams that went over their draft pool would face the loss of future draft picks which would be awarded via lottery to other teams. the best team in terms of win-loss record that did not qualify for postseason would have the best lottery odds for this type of pick, with odds decreasing as win percentage decreased. The key here is the overall draft pool, not the assigned slot value, so a team with a pool of 12 million could in affect spend 10 million on its first pick if it so chose. But if that team went over its pool by a single dollar up to 2.5%, it would lose a second round pick in the next draft. Go over from 2.5 to 5.0%, it would lose an additional first round pick, again those picks then going into a lottery as just described. Going over from 5 to 10% would result in the loss of picks in both the first and second round in the next two drafts, and going more than 10% over the pool would result in the loss of first through third round picks in the next two drafts.

4, change the draft eligibility rules so that they are uniform. If a player goes to a junior college, he must complete 2 years of schooling before being able to appear again in the draft, players who go to a four-year university maintain the current rules, accept they apply in a uniform manner to all colleges and universities in the united States or Canada, with the player having to complete three years of college eligibility, or be 21 on June 1 the year of the draft. For all players from any corner of the globe not in college, they must have completed high school or received an equivalent diploma, or turned age 18 by June 1 the year of the draft. Players not graduating high school must be 18 by June 1 to be draft eligible, those graduating high school or receiving the equivalent diploma can be drafted no younger than age 17, with the 17th birthday no later than June 1 of that year’s draft.

5, Drafting players from nations with pro leagues, Japan, Cuba, south Korea as examples. Any player not from the United States or Canada who has a proof of current contract to a foreign league can be drafted by an MLB team and his draft rights maintained until age 28. A 19 year old player from japan would thus have his MLB draft rights held by an organization until age 28, with those rights expiring on the 28th birthday of the player. The players MLB salary would be structured like that of other MLB players, accept that if he does not come to an MLB team until age 25 or later, his first year salary would be based on the average of all players his age on opening day rosters from the previous season. This formula would govern the first three years of salary with standard arbitration and other rules taking effect as normally scheduled for all MLB players. MLB teams would be allowed to buy out the contract of the player from the foreign league, while paying a posting or transfer fee to the foreign league or team. Foreign players who were not under contract to another pro league at the time of the draft would have their MLB draft rights held until age 24. After the 24th birthday, the player if not part of an existing foreign professional league would be an undrafted free agent who would be free to sign with the team of his choosing but only for the MLB minimum taking a 40-man roster spot, or to a minor league contract with the signing bonus then counted against the draft pool for the year in which the player is signed. Players age 28 or older signing as free agents would be treated like MLB free agents, in that they would be signed for however much the club feels the player is worth, accept the contract would be no longer than 6 years in length and players age 28 or older could not sign to contracts from the minor leagues and draft bonus pools. Players returning from MLB to their foreign league would have their MLB contract bought out by the foreign league in question and they would have to wait one calendar year before returning to an MLB roster.

6, Trading draft picks and draft rights. Teams who owned draft rights to an international player outside the United States and Canada would be able to trade those rights like any other future draft pick to another organization as part of a trade to obtain MLB talent. Draft picks and draft rights to international players could not be used as a player to be named later and they could not be offered in a deal involving only players not on a 40-man roster. A team trading such a pick must be receiving at least one player on another teams 40-man roster. If three or more teams are involved, the player rights or draft picks being sent away do not have to go to the same team that is the source for the obtained player to meet the 40-man roster requirement. Lastly, teams could trade no more than the rights to three picks from any single draft that they have obtained, even if additional picks were granted through lottery, compensation or trades. Example, Nationals trade draft rights to the Brewers, Nationals must get a player from the 40-man roster of the Brewers or from another organization if a third team, such as the mariners were involved.

7, Qualifying offers and compensation picks would change. The qualifying offer would be the average of the top 100 salaries among all players in MLB and the qualifying offer would be good for a two-year contract if accepted by the player. Compensation for qualifying offers would be modified, so that the first four players signed would result in the loss of a second round pick, all others would result in the loss of a third round pick. All first round picks would be protected going forward.

8, The order of draft picks would change so that the top 20 teams who did not make the playoffs would draft in the inverse order of their win-loss record from the previous MLB season. Picks 21-22 would go to the two teams who lose the wild Card game in inverse order of win-loss record. Using a similar formula, picks 23-26 would go to the four losers of the division series, picks 27-28 to the two losers of the League Championship Series, pick 29 to the World Series loser and pick 30 to the World Series winner.

9, Draft pool totals. The worst team would be allotted a total draft pool of 12,000,000, the best team would be awarded 8 million. The difference from positions 1-6 would be a drop of 200K per slot with the 6th position in terms of pool rankings worth 11 million. After position 6, starting with the 7th through 30th positions, the drop would be 125K per placement, so that the 7th position would be worth a pool of 10.875 million and the 14th position worth 10 million. Positions 15-22 would be from 9.875 to 9 million, while positions 23-30 would range from 8.875 to 8 million in terms of the total draft pool value. A draft pool lottery could also be put in place for pool positions 1-14, so that the worst team is not guaranteed the top pool of 12 million but it is guaranteed a pool of at least 10 million. If MLB expanded to 32 teams, the slope downward in pool totals would be slightly adjusted for picks 15-32.

10, additional picks. Two rounds of six draft picks each, one between rounds 1-2 and one between rounds 2-3 would be held. The first round would be for teams that missed the playoffs for each of the previous two seasons, with the order of draft picks based on best to worst combined overall winning percentage, think of it as a way to reward teams who tried and missed out rather than tanking on purpose. So based on 2014-2015, the Mariners, Twins, White Sox, Indians, Red Sox, Rays, Padres, Diamondbacks, Rockies, Reds, Brewers, Phillies, Marlins and Braves would be in the running for those picks. The second set of six picks would be based on the current MLB competitive balance lottery.

IN conclusion, I believe that one combined draft is the way to go forward, with many changes needed both in terms of how bonus pools and compensation are dealt with. I believe that current players are being harmed by the system as teams don’t want to lose the ability to obtain current amateurs by losing highly valued draft picks and the dollars tied to them. It removes the incentive for thugs to smuggle players like they were cocaine in return for huge sums of the players professional contract. It rewards teams who scout well in all corners of the globe and it does not guarantee teams that lose on purpose will obtain the best drafting slots. I’m not Tony Clark or Rob Manfred, but maybe this serves as a blueprint for what a future MLB draft looks like.

MLB Has Significant Social Responsibility Opportunity to Promote True Accessibility for Disabled, Blind in Particular

As a person who is blind and who has loved sports since I was 10 years old, I always knew that my ability to participate in such events would be limited. That did not mean I could not find joy in sports in my own way. Adapted games like beep baseball were fun and I would also play my own modified version of the sport with a friend one on one. He would get his turns at bat against me as a pitcher, I’d take mine some times against him, sometimes using a technique where I threw the ball with one hand in the air, then took a swing with one or two hands holding the bat, while the friend was in the field of play. Similar slight modifications were made in my other favorite one on one sport, basketball. Nothing is more thrilling than hitting a long jump shot from beyond the 3 point line, even when you can’t see the goal, because you here the swish as the ball goes nothing but net.

Accessibility to other items in life has proven to be a bit more of a challenge in our ever increasing digital world. My first employer was a cable and internet service provider after college, where I worked in the call center and then took a promotion to an account coordinator position. But then one day the systems were upgraded and suddenly our database that was used for everything from managing billing and technical systems, to scheduling trouble tickets and the like became inaccessible. Weeks later I was out of a job and while they said it was a budget cut, I knew the reason, but in a state with no union laws, it would be my word against their word. Over the years since that first bitter pill in 2002, I had several interviews that ended up not working out because of software issues. Fidelity Investments literally wanted to hire me in 2006 but they said we can’t make you an offer because we don’t know if you can do the job. Translation, they knew I could not do the job only because of their half ass designed software that was used by their organization. If they doubted my ability to work for them, I would not have received the offer to work and gone through the software testing phase in the first place.

IN March 2007 seeking a new direction, I was accepted to grad school, where I began working on my master’s in education, a focus in student affairs. I wrote the guy at Fidelity and said that I was going back to grad school and that they could take their job somewhere else. I told them that they should be happy I was going to the classroom, for my other option was to consider a court room instead.

Since finishing my masters, getting employment has been somewhat easier, but today massive inaccessibility still exists. Many companies, nonprofit organizations and government agencies use many computer software programs to operate on a daily basis, no matter the job title or rank, an employee has to use these many systems. Often, at least one or more of these computing systems has some or total inaccessibility and thus workers are denied employment. A case was recently allowed to proceed last year when a county in Maryland lost in court, after it claimed it would be too cost prohibitive to upgrade its new system to make it accessible, even though the same system replaced outdated yet accessible technology that was much more expensive to maintain and operate. Often though, these choices are made based on pure dollars with no forethought that a person needing a different way of accessing the system would come along.

Even in higher education it is a huge problem, with a variety of systems in place today on college campuses where I work, that are somewhat if not entirely lacking accessibility.

While government guidelines exist that say how a building must be designed to meet ADA requirements in terms of physical mobility for those using wheel chairs, walkers and other devices, and while rules exist laying out how interior signage is displayed so that the blind can read it for instance, the rules don’t exist for exterior signage and technology. So when walking around a campus with many buildings, the blind person cannot walk up to the door and literally get a feel for what building he or she is entering. Similarly at stadiums and arenas, no signage is available in Braille that says what section a fan is entering and no Braille is on the small metal plates that are fixed to stadium seats, indicating the location in the stadium that the fan is sitting in. I found this to be true at every game of my 30 ballpark, 30 day tour in 2012. As for technology, many of today’s websites present major accessibility hurtles for the blind user like me, many desktop applications for sale to the general public lack this as well. Only the Apple products with onboard Voiceover technology are largely accessible, but even here a lot of the third party apps have issues.

Some examples of in inaccessible web content include, the use of CAPTCHA with no audio (The boxes that want you to enter the letters and numbers displayed in an image to prove you are a real person). Many buttons on flash oriented features have no labeled button that tells the screen reader what you are about to press, as all buttons on the player just show as button, button, button, rather than stop, play, rewind, Etc. many sites have links that say click here, rather than the name of what they actually represent and so you have to guess as to what the click here references. Then there are those sites that present a list of options but none are accessible to the screen reader because they have not been designed as a button or link that the screen reader can actually focus on. The key to all this, blind people will not now, nor will they ever in the future use a mouse. So web and application designers must use an approach that allows for the use of other input methods, including voice response and keyboards.

So why is your baseball blogger writing about this very non-baseball topic. It is because Major League Baseball is in a unique position with a very important responsibility. MLB through its diversity and inclusion programs has an opportunity to display to the world the best practices when it comes to all aspects of accessibility. This means it could hire someone who is blind or has a related disability as an accessibility expert, to make sure the league is fully accessible to all its customers both virtually on its websites and literally in the ballparks. Further, this puts MLB in a position to be a leader in the business community and brings a very public voice and recognized brand that could lobby for Federal legislation that strengthens ADA technology guidelines and provides more opportunities for the blind in the work place. Have you ever tried to buy a new TV or other device and set it up as a blind person? Good luck.

Why does all this matter? We have a social responsibility and a moral obligation to do the right thing. We cannot be the most free nation in the world if we do not remove barriers that limit the right of certain citizens to work. Furthermore, we reduce the demand on the government, as many blind people who currently live on social security disability checks would now have a real job with real income and it would allow for a greater contribution for all too the greater good of our society. Finally, it allows MLB to bridge the gap that exists between the blind and sited worlds, teaching the blind that yes we must live and operate in a sited world, while teaching the sited that it is in the best interest of everyone to solve these major problems that truly do limit opportunity for this small population of often overlooked American citizens.

In Attendance Race to Show Baseball Interest, Montreal Speaks, San Antonio Dissapoints

In this very space March 18, I wrote about the exhibition games scheduled for March 29-30 that would mean more to the cities of Montreal and San Antonio, than they would to the teams playing in them, Mets and Blue Jays at Olympic Stadium, Rangers and Astros at the Alamodome. I wrote about how unlikely expansion appears to be in the short term for Major League Baseball and I wrote about how we all know which two teams potentially would be paying attention to these efforts, the Tampa Bay Rays and the Oakland athletics who let’s be honest need a new stadium and who genuinely want to stay in the greater San Francisco Bay region. San Jose already offered to build a stadium, but efforts are being blocked by the Athletics’ neighbors in San Francisco, creating a Giant obstacle to stadium efforts and potentially leading to the removal of the Athletics from the region all together. The issues with the Tampa situation I detailed in brief in my March 18 editorial.

My closing comments were strait forward, it would be almost unthinkable that both franchises would relocate and given the less than high percentage odds of expansion, Montreal and San Antonio were not only trying to show folks in the Commissioner’s Office that they deserved baseball, they were also trying to outscore one another. IN terms of the box scores then from those games Friday and Saturday, what truly stood out was the very last column, attendance. I genuinely expected San Antonio to draw more than Montreal and this is not because I am from Texas and yes, I was a big Expos fan growing up. For one, San Antonio drew over 75,000 two a pair of games at the Alamodome last spring, Rangers victories over the San Diego Padres and as baseball capable facilities go, Olympic Stadium 113 months after its last baseball event was still leaps ahead of what the Alamodome could be as a ballpark. Furthermore, this spring saw both of the Lone Star State’s teams playing in San Antonio and unlike last year, both of these games were on dates where the local Spurs basketball franchise was not playing a home game simultaneously. Instead, neither game drew more than 28,000, 22,677 on Friday night and 27,255 on Saturday afternoon, a total of 49,932 fans for the two games. The Saturday game alone last spring in San Antonio drew more than 40,000.

Then there is Montreal, a city most Anglo writers here in the States gave up for dead as a baseball market, a city most thought never deserved another team, despite Montreal outdrawing both the Mets and Yankees at various times from 1979-1992. How did Le Québécois respond? ON Saturday alone, fans of the former Expos chanting “Let’s Go Expos”, showed up and then some, 50229 in attendance, which topped the two nights in San Antonio combined. Oh and the prior night for the Friday game, they only drew another 46,221. If this weekend taught us anything, Montreal is a baseball town and given the proper ownership and support for the team from MLB, Montreal will show up for a winner and for the game that is only outpaced in popularity by hockey. This is not to say that San Antonio is a bad market, it could very easily be a high level baseball city, but such a drop in attendance from year one to year two is concerning. Perhaps the 2014 numbers are a better gauge of baseball fandom in the Alamo city and if an average of between 24,000 and 25,000 per game came to see the Rangers and Astros, perhaps one could argue that such numbers for the new local team if it existed could push north of 30,000. But one could also argue that 2013 was an example of the baseball novelty which drew in more fans per game, over 37,000 than the baseball purity represented by the 2014 numbers. That is alarming for San Antonio, because a drop of 13K per game in attendance is similar to the drop in attendance after the expansion season of 1998 for the afore mentioned Tampa Bay Rays, who saw a drop from 30,900 to 19,200 per game from season 1 to season 2. The Rays in their best years of attendance from 2008-2010 would average right around 23,000, since then the club has not broken 20,000 per game, despite contending teams that made the playoffs in 2011 and 2013 and a team in 2012 that was contending well into September. Montreal remember drew as well in 1995 per game after having its team gutted and its baseball dreams crushed by the 1994 strike, as Tampa drew in its 2011 and 2013 playoff seasons. Montreal in 1994 drew more per game than any Tampa season accept 1998 and how bad was Tampa outdrawn by its expansion cousins that first season, 1993 Marlins +7,000, 1998 Diamondbacks +14,000, 1993 Rockies +25,000. Furthermore, while Tampa saw a drop from its first to second year in average attendance of more than 12,500, Arizona and Miami each dropped by around 5,000 and Colorado actually went up another 2,000. When the Rockies left 70,000 seat Mile High Stadium for 50,000 seats at Coors Field, they averaged over 40,000 for seven seasons 1995-2001 and only once has attendance averaged below 25,000 in 2005. The Diamondbacks worst season average has been in the 25,000 range, but they have never cleared 40,000 a game per season after their huge draw in 1998. San Antonio will not be Denver or Phoenix, but it needs to be better than Tampa and better than Miami to prove its worth as an expansion city. Montreal has numbers that can be as good or better than Miami and this such a relocation to Canada may just be what the Rays need.

What this weekend shows is that Montreal is ready for baseball and if San Antonio had any hopes of trying to convince the Rays or Athletics to relocate to the home of hot salsa, their dreams may be shattered by a cold dose of reality blowing down from baseball hungry Montreal. One can only imagine how the Montreal Expos would be doing right now if they had the current Tampa Rays ownership in place. Montreal would also be a perfect fit in the division where the Rays currently call home and so it would require no realignment. The question is, what is more likely to be in place within five years, a new baseball stadium for the Rays somewhere on Florida’s sunshine coast, or a new stadium for the relocated and rebranded Montreal Expos in French Canada?

The Case for a New Round of Expansion in Major League Baseball, to 36 Teams

From 1901 to 1960, 16 teams called Major League Baseball home. Between 1961 and 1977, a period covering 17 seasons, 10 franchises were added. It would be 16 more seasons until the Rockies and Marlins joined in 1993, followed by the Diamondbacks and what were then known as the Devil Rays five years later in 1998. While the Devil may be out of the Rays, there is no doubt that the devil is always in the details, or in this instance, those details that are not yet known as to baseball’s future expansion potential. But whereas it seemed possible in 2002 that contraction would occur, there are clearly no arguments in my view that support future contraction and yet several arguments that support future expansion.

Every time expansion takes place, there are those who say that the talent is watered down further in the Major Leagues, but can anyone genuinely say that our baseball of 2013 is more watered down than it was during the golden age? During the golden age, blacks were just beginning to be allowed to play in our highest level of pro ball and the concept of international players, much less international scouting and the draft were ideas that only the brightest outside the box thinking types could have conceived. Now look at where our game is today, the Great American Pastime has become the great global game and all signs are that it will only continue to grow all over the world. Sure there have always been the baseball hot beds like Venezuela and the Dominican, but look at what developments have taken place in nations like the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, Mexico, South Korea, all who have contributed a great deal of talent to our top level of baseball. I have not even mentioned Japan, which had 0 MLB players in 1994, now you are likely to find a player from Japan on every single organizational roster and more than just one in some cases. Then there are the many Cuban players who have defected and come to the US to play. If and when relations are ever more open between the two bitter rival governments, there will be a flood of talented players coming across the Florida straits seeking big league money and big league exposure.

Then there is Europe, which many baseball experts who follow the international game believe is the future growth spurt of an even deeper international talent pool. It would not be surprising at all to see nations like Italy, Germany, France, and Spain get to where the Dutch are today and that can only mean one thing, even more big league capable players seeking work.

What does this mean for the future of MLB? It simply means that the game which is expanding globally will eventually have to expand to meet fan and player demands if our professional baseball circuit is to maintain its clear status as the world premier league of top notch professional competition. Now, I present my big and bold expansion proposal.

The expansion would be a record for MLB, six teams at one time. Some of you are now taking a big gulp and catching your breath, really, six teams? But let’s put this in some perspective. IN 1969 when four teams joined, they increased the size of the league from 20 to 24 teams, or an increase of 20% in size. Each team took 30 players in the expansion draft, meaning each of the 20 existing organizations lost six players to the new kids on the block. IN the 1977 expansion that added just two teams in the AL, they too took 30 players each. Since they only drafted from AL rosters, the impact was similar for those 12 existing AL teams, losing five players each. The impact on existing teams was much less in the 1993 and 1998 expansions because for one thing, more existing teams were available to be picked from. So in 1992, the Rockies and Marlins each added 36 players, six more than in prior expansions, but the impact was just three players from each NL organization, three players from eight AL organizations, and 2 players from the remaining six AL members. The 1997 expansion saw the Rays and Diamondbacks each take 35 players, this time as before, some organizations lost three players and others lost just two. Given the fact that we now have 30 teams plus all of the affiliated minor league clubs that are part of the farm systems, expanding by six teams and letting each team take 25 players would not be asking all that much. If each new team took 25 players, that would mean a loss of 5 players from each existing organization, which would be no more impactful than what we saw in the 1969 expansion. Furthermore, increasing from 30 to 36 teams is mathematically exactly the same as increasing from 20 to 24 teams, in that you expand the size of MLB by 20%.

Where to put these six teams? Now there are several approaches that one can take when thinking of where and how to expand. Fans and critics will take note and offer their own ideas and responses, but when reading this. in my view, what follows is a sound judgment in terms of my philosophy of expansion.

I’ve read a couple articles recently that said if baseball expands, Brooklyn should be considered and I agree, given the history of baseball in that location. But the one thing I would say that would counter this view, is the fact that baseball is in more dual markets than any other sport. The NBA has two teams each in Los Angeles and New York, assuming the Kings stay in Sacramento, they are not too far from Oakland which is home of the Warriors, though Sacramento is not considered part of the Bay Area market like San Jose and thus the reason San Jose is much favored over Sacramento to land the Athletics assuming they do eventually move from Oakland. The NFL has three dual markets, Oakland/San Francisco, Washington/Baltimore, and New York. The NHL has a dual market with Los Angeles/Anaheim and a tri market with New jersey and the two New York teams. Baseball has five dual markets, Los Angeles/Anaheim, San Francisco/Oakland, New York, Washington/Baltimore, and Chicago. Add to that fact that Philadelphia is right between DC and New York, San Diego is not that far from Anaheim, and Milwaukee is not far from Chicago, and you quickly see that 15 teams or one half of all of MLB is concentrated in five geographic regions, more than any other sports league. Those facts which are very strait forward doom the Brooklyn idea.

So where does MLB go? Go west was a phrase heard during the mass expansion of the United States and North America in general, I apply that in part to baseball, which has cities in Portland and Vancouver that both seem ready to support the great game. Vancouver was a candidate for the 1998 teams but was quickly passed over for the Florida Sun Coast and Desert southwest. Portland has also been mentioned for years as a future expansion or relocation site and it is time that baseball put steaks down in a city that has proven it will support a team that tries to put a good product out there for the fans, see the Portland Trail Blazers for that example from pro hoops.

City number three, San Antonio. The Rangers and Padres series at the end of spring training drew 35 thousand on the same night the Spurs were playing at home, then 40 thousand for a 1PM start the next day, at a place that can only be described as the most temporary baseball setting imaginable, the Alamodome, which was never built or intended for baseball of any kind, period! This would provide a third team in Texas and it is crazy that the Lone Star State, home to a population only smaller than California does not have a third team. The Dallas Fort Worth metro is after all much larger in population than Washington/Baltimore and one could genuinely argue that a second team could also go to DFW, though I don’t propose such a move.

My other three teams go in the eastern region of the continent, one back to Montreal which MLB never gave a fair chance and as we now see in Miami, the marlins owner cares nothing about the fans and he was the nail in the coffin for the Expos in 2001 when his ownership forced the clock to strike midnight in Montreal. Remember that there were several times back in the period of the 1970’s and early 1980’s that the Expos were on par with or outdrew their counterparts in new York, both the Mets and Yankees, so history tells us with no doubt that Montreal was and is a baseball town. They should revisit the plans for Labatt Park, because the Big Owe will only serve as a temporary home.

Finally, the fifth and sixth franchises go to the southeast US, no not to Florida which has sadly been baseball’s worst experiment for the simple fact that unlike Phoenix, Denver, and other cities mentioned here, Florida cities are full of transplants who could give a damn about a local team because they root for their team from back home. While one of these two slots could instead go to Brooklyn, I have instead chosen Charlotte and Nashville. Both have had success with new franchises and only ownership issues caused concern for Nashville’s NHL franchise and ruined fan interest in Charlotte’s first NBA team. Both cities are solid distances from the nearest markets of St. Louis, Atlanta, Cincinnati, and Washington, certainly further away than San Diego is from Orange County and further than Milwaukee is from Chicago.

So now to the question of alignment, how will this all work? My proposal calls for Charlotte to join the existing teams in the AL East and for Nashville to join the AL Central. Portland and San Antonio would both go to the AL West, while Houston would transfer back to the NL Central. Vancouver would join the NL West and Montreal the NL East, plus Pittsburgh and Atlanta would flip divisions, Atlanta to the NL Central and Pittsburgh to the NL East. Now that I’ve made everyone grab for their maps, here is the easy to digest version of alignment.

AL East, Toronto, Boston, NY Yankees, Baltimore, Charlotte, Tampa.

AL Central, Kansas City, Minnesota, Chicago Sox, Nashville, Cleveland, Detroit.

AL West, San Antonio, Texas, LA Angels, Oakland, Portland, Seattle.

NL East, Miami, Washington, NY Mets, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Montreal.

NL Central, Houston, St. Louis, Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Atlanta.

NL West, Colorado, Arizona, San Diego, LA Dodgers, San Francisco, Vancouver.

Time table for expansion, award franchises in 2015, franchises can begin participating in the amateur draft and international free agency process in 2016, new MLB teams take the field opening day, April 2, 2018.