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Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Today in Baseball History: The Seattle Pilots get their name

Professional football, long second or even third or fourth or fifth fiddle to baseball behind horse racing, boxing, and college football, had grown greatly popularity in the 1940s and 1950s. The 1958 NFL championship game between the New York Giants and the Baltimore Colts — which ended in sudden death overtime and was subsequently dubbed The Greatest Game Ever Played — was seen as the moment when pro football took its place as the top dog in American sports. As the 1960s dawned, football was ascendent and baseball was in the process of falling off its perch as “The National Pastime.”

It would, in fact, fall off that perch and has basically remained off that perch, subordinate to the NFL in the national consciousness, in all but name for many decades. But as the 1960s dawned the Lords of Baseball tried to counteract the game’s slide in popularity and prominence by doing what it probably should’ve done years and years before: it began to expand.

In 1960, the American League voted to expand from eight to 10 teams, adding added a new franchise, the Angels, in Los Angeles. The league also awarded a franchise to Minneapolis-St. Paul, but Washington Senators owner Calvin Griffith received approval to move the Senators there instead, where they became thew Twins, with the new expansion slot to Washington going to the new Senators, who would eventually become the Texas Rangers in the early 1970s.

Unlike today, the AL and NL were still run as basically separate and often competing entities in the 1960s, so the NL did not immediately match the AL’s expansion. The twin pressures of AL expansion, along with that threat from a potential upstart in the Continental Baseball League that we discussed a couple of weeks ago, changed the Senior Circuit’s mind the following year and it added two new expansion clubs of its own for the 1962 season: the New York Mets and the Houston Colt .45s, who would eventually become the Astros.

The story of the rise and quick fall of a Major League franchise- and one that has been rather consequential in various regards.

 

QLE Posted: April 01, 2020 at 12:49 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: expansion, history, pilots, seattle

Friday, March 27, 2020

Will MLB Turn to Expansion After Losing Revenues to COVID-19?

Over the last several decades, revenues for Major League Baseball have soared, nearing $11 billion last season. The league’s unprecedented prosperity has turned MLB franchises into cash cows in ways not seen in prior generations. It will likely take some time to gauge the extent of the revenue teams will lose due to COVID-19-related delays, but given that some or perhaps all of the 2020 season will be lost, baseball isn’t likely to be a great moneymaker for owners this year. And while league expansion has been talked about for quite some time, it’s possible the losses suffered this season due might actually be the precipitating factor in MLB moving beyond 30 teams.

For the last few decades, owners haven’t felt compelled to expand because they were making plenty of money without the need for a cash grab. The dirty truth about expansion is that it isn’t about growing the sport. It’s about injecting cash into ownership pockets now, with those same owners willing to share a slice of their pie with a couple more teams in the future. If the owners don’t feel the need for that expansion money, they aren’t going to welcome more teams to take a share of overall MLB revenues. In addition, the threat of relocation from teams looking for new stadium deals serves to slow expansion; MLB likes to have potential expansion cities available to threaten municipalities into providing new ballparks.

Modern expansion isn’t about the talent levels available or growing to meet the needs of an increasing population. If it were, we would have seen expansion at some point in the last decade. The talent pool has gotten incredibly good, with fastball velocities and strikeout levels rising to the point that diluting the talent pool could have a positive impact on the game, resulting in more action and balls in play. And in terms of population, the number of people per team is approaching levels last seen in 1960 when baseball had just 16 teams.

The sound you are hearing are a bunch of local politicians across North American getting really excited and a bunch of economists sighing in response…..

 

QLE Posted: March 27, 2020 at 01:24 AM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: coronavirus, expansion

 

 

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