By: William Robinson
The other day I was reading an article from Commissioner Rob Manfred and he was talking about expansion of baseball. To me this is an interesting topic because I love the idea of growing baseball both locally and globally. I feel like now is the time for baseball to grow in order to capitalize on the failing popularity of the other major sports and the growing popularity of baseball thanks to the World Baseball Classic. Also, the long-term outlook for baseball barring any work stoppage is higher now than it has been for decades due to the growing concerns of CTE in higher contact sports.
But how do you do this and maintain the integrity of the game. There are many out there that believe that the game is already watered down too much and that the talent level of baseball won’t permit there to be enough talent to fund extra major league baseball teams. Well, I don’t initially disagree with those people in theory, but what major league baseball has to do is reach out to new markets so that there can be even more talent through talent development. It’s time for major league baseball to start thinking more globally. That’s where my plan comes into effect.
More and more major league baseball teams are relying on Latin American talent. I think you would be hard pressed to think of a team that doesn’t have at least one player from Latin America. However, no major league baseball teams are in Latin America, and I think it’s time to change that. I think the time has come to welcome Latin America into major league baseball with welcome arms and to crown major league baseball as the premier North American sport. In order to do that I recommend that they create two new teams and put them in Mexico City and Puerto Rico.
Mexico City is the most populous city in North America. It is home to nearly 9 million people. Currently soccer is the sport of preference for the city, but I believe that a sports franchise there could draw epic crowds and support. In 2005 the NFL hosted a game in Mexico City and the attendance was massive. Nearly 104,000 people attended the game. To me that screams of a city that is thirsty for a major league baseball team. The GDP of Mexico City is 411 Billion dollars and it accounts for 22% of the Mexican GDP. For example, the GDP of Cincinnati is 140 billion dollars, so this city has more money theoretically than Cincinnati which is already host to a major league baseball team. There is already infrastructure in place and a populace that is ready for major league sports, so it only makes sense that this could be an attractive locale.
The other city is a bit more of a stretch. I think that Major League baseball should take an active hand in the rebuilding of Puerto Rico. Without turning this into too much of a political conversation, it’s hard to argue that our nation hasn’t failed our republic there. I believe that this is a golden opportunity for MLB to take an active leadership role in our country and to become the nation’s past time again. In the past major league baseball has set a precedent. Jackie Robinson integrated baseball ten years before Rosa Parks sat on that bus. Major League baseball has been a driving force for good in our country ever since then and it can be again. Think of the good press that MLB could get compared to the horrible press of the NFL (domestic abuse, concussions) if they invested heavily into a rebuild of Puerto Rico. I would assume the team would be located in San Juan. The population of Puerto Rico is 3.4 million people. San Juan only 355,000. However, Puerto Rico is five times smaller than Georgia so I would assume that it could draw attendance from the entire island. The GDP of Puerto Rico is 103 million dollars which is less than Cincinnati. However, it is more than Oklahoma City, which many people think would be a good place for a major league team.
There are no guarantees that this would work and there would be lots of criticism in place to try and prevent it from succeeding. It’s a risky proposition. However, what would you rather do? Take a risk and possibly open up a huge market and put major league baseball back into the driver’s seat as the North American past time? Or play it safe and put another team in a small market that will fail to support them just like Tampa Bay has with the Rays. Me I’d rather try something new.