Earlier this season, I came out in favor of expanding the league by two teams – something Commissioner Rob Manfred has teased for a while now – because I’m particularly tickled by the idea of restructuring baseball into two 16-team leagues, with four four-team divisions on either side.
Such a move should allow the league to level the playing field in terms of rules (like the designated hitter), as well as add a couple of playoff teams to either side, and, perhaps most importantly, re-align the divisions to be more geographically accommodating. I can’t say for certain we’ll ever get the restructuring, universal DH, or extra playoff teams I desire, but expansion does seem to be on the horizon, and it’s becoming more likely every day.
If you recall, the key precursor to adding two new teams to Major League Baseball has always been settling the new-stadium questions in Tampa Bay and Oakland, but both cities have made big strides lately (particularly Tampa Bay, who recently revealed designs and a new location for their new ballpark), so … what’s the latest?
Well, Commissioner Rob Manfred discussed this topic at the All-Star Game during an appearance on FS1’s “First Things First,” and he went as far as naming potential markets for what would eventually be the next two Major League Baseball teams.
“I do think 32 teams would help us, it opens up a whole host of things,” Manfred said “In terms of cities … we have a real list of cities that I think are not only interested in having baseball, but are viable in terms of baseball — places like Portland, Las Vegas, Charlotte, Nashville in the United States, certainly Montreal, maybe Vancouver, in Canada. We think there’s places in Mexico we could go over the long haul.”
Manfred made sure to append his statement with the clarification that the cities listed are not the only ones being considered – he didn’t want any other interested cities to feel “slighted” (Portland?) – but I think it’s fair to say that places like Montreal, Nashville, Las Vegas, etc. (i.e. destinations that have been previously rumored for obvious reasons) are going to be the front runners.
And with the ballpark situations in Tampa Bay and Oakland shoring up, we might begin to see some action on this sooner than we think. You can read more about Manfred’s comments here at CBS Sports or watch the full interview at Fox Sports.