Apparently We’re Supposed To Talk Potential Canadian MLB Expansion Today

montreal-morosi

I’ll give Jon Morosi one thing: he knows how to get people talking. Or, at the very least, get people clicking. Or to get himself on the radio in some of the biggest markets in this country, if not the US as well.

He especially knows how to get people talking about big, pipe-dreamy shifts in MLB’s geographical footprint. A year ago it was Monterrey, Mexico that seemed, to him at least, to make a whole lot of sense — a team that could capture the lion’s share of Mexico’s TV market in a city not too far away from the continental United States, he theorized.

Today, it’s places a little closer to home.

Morosi’s favourite group of fans to bait, by far, seem to be Canadians. And so here we are, examining his latest at Fox Sports, wherein we’re told that MLB commissioner Rob Manfred is interested in expansion, and that two of the three most viable cities, in Morosi’s estimation are Montreal and Vancouver (with Austin, TX, coming in at number two).

This is low-hanging fruit that’s naturally going to get people in those places excited. And it’s not like there isn’t a kernel of something to be excited about if you can squint hard enough to see past all the obstacles (like competing cities, corporate investment, stadium issues, weather, and the currently sagging Canadian dollar). It’s just… well… as Morosi explains:

We’re five or six years — at the very earliest — from seeing the inauguration of new MLB franchises. But for the first time this century, it’s reasonable to wonder what the next round of MLB expansion will look like.

Apparently it was unreasonable a year ago! Or all those other times he’s banged the drum for Montreal — though, admittedly, some of that talk has been about relocation rather than straight expansion. But now, today, let’s dive in!

Sorry, but I can’t.

Not because those aren’t three incredible cities richly deserving an MLB team and certainly capable of supporting one if it’s done right, but because more than anything this feels like pointless busywork and a gift to his radio show producer buddies.

Of course MLB and the players union have reasons to want to expand, from creating new jobs to pocketing exorbitant expansion fees to creating a better geographical alignment of divisions, etc. And of course there are places that seem like natural fits. Ooooh, and hey, when you’re talking Montreal and Vancouver there are all sorts of interesting things that come up about Canadian TV rights, Bell/TSN trying to crack Rogers’ monopoly on the sport in this country, and the romance of the Expos. 

But the process going to proceed like it proceeds, which is real slowly — ask hockey fans in Quebec (or, if you want to get especially down on your chances, Hamilton). So… why are we here, exactly?

It’s not that I don’t acknowledge that expanding into Montreal and/or Vancouver would be terrific for Canadian baseball, and maybe it’s only easy for me to be a bit aloof here because I’m in a market that already has a team, but I dunno… given how easily the enthusiasm of fans and the corporate community in these cities can be used, for example, as leverage to help MLB get public money for stadiums in places like Oakland or Tampa Bay, until something actually concrete happens it feels a little patronizing to keep prodding people to get all breathless about it.

Nice idea, though. Go get your corporate ducks in a row, Montreal and Vancouver, and let’s talk about this again in, say, three years. OK?

  • SteveM

    I certainly will miss the home game crowds we get in Seattle.

    Also I definitely would say Vancouver over Montreal for expansion. It’s just nostalgia that has everyone climbing over each other to try and relocate Tampa there. If they have a good team they MAY sell out most of their first year, then the second it gets even slightly below average you’ll see crowds of

  • Steve-O

    Sources tell me Calgary is also in the running for an expansion team.

    (Why yes, my toaster is my source and only I can hear her speak. Yes, my toaster is a “she”. What? No, YOU’RE off your meds again.)

  • Kristen Sprague

    The Bell ownership of a Montreal franchise just makes too much sense. If only they had a stadium to move to. I guess Les Expos will just be leverage for the Rays.

  • 0noggin

    If the MLB is going back to Montreal, they’d better do it quickly before this generation of baseball fans there die out. As I recall, by the end of the Expos’ tenure, the age of their average fan was creeping into his 60s.

  • Barry

    If Vancouver and Montreal were options for expansion, and both were seen as equally viable as baseball markets, I suspect MLB would opt to go to Montreal in order to avoid a fight with the Mariners, whose market would be impacted by a team in Vancouver.

    (That’s assuming, of course, that both were on equal footing in terms of interested ownership, government commitment to building a new stadium, etc.)

  • Morbo The Annihilator

    I don’t see an MLB team succeeding here in Vancouver. People don’t even put up with a losing Canucks team in the winter–if the Canucks are bad, people stop going. In the summer, in a place known for its natural beauty and active people who love to be outdoors, a mediocre team would draw terribly. That the Canadians single A team sells out a 5,000 seat short season isn’t a comparative.

  • Canadian Hockey Fan

    Both Montreal and Vancouver would make great MLB cities. Both are larger than some current MLB cities and have facilities that can be used until new stadiums would be built. It would also be nice to have 3 teams in Canada. I like the Blue Jays, but I would cheer on Montreal and Vancouver as well. Hopefully this happens.

  • Canadian Hockey Fan

    Surprised to see neither leading in the poll. You would think Jays fans would support teams in Montreal and Vancouver. To be fair, Montreal has 162 votes to neither’s 181.