Archive for April, 2013

Is Another Expansion Boom Looming?

Posted: April 29, 2013 in CFL, MLB, MLS, NBA, NFL, NHL

The National Basketball Association relocation committee has recommended against the Sacramento Kings relocating to Seattle to revive the SuperSonics on Monday.  There is now speculation that Seattle may be granted an expansion franchise for the 2014-15 season.  The NBA isn’t the only league looking at expansion currently, as the Canadian Football League has made expansion to Ottawa official, Major League Soccer is close to granting an expansion club to New York, the National Football League aims to increase its global image, and the National Hockey League has been rumored to be looking at two expansion franchises.

Canadian Football League – The CFL has twice had to leave the Canadian national capital when the Rough Riders folded and their replacement, the Renegades followed suit in 2006.  By 2008, the city was granted another expansion team to begin play in 2010, which was continually pushed back and currently is set at 2014.  The team is expected to announce that it will be called to Ottawa RedBlacks on June 8th.  The league will likely be content with an uneven number of teams, but should it eventually look for a tenth franchise, Moncton or Halifax would seem to be the front-runners for a team to represent all of Atlantic Canada.

Major League Baseball – The MLB has no plans at expansion, and there are not that many markets that would seem ready to support a new MLB franchise for the time being.  Though it should be noted that MLB has experimented in the past with the Expos de Montréal playing games in San Juan, Puerto Rico before the franchise ultimately relocated to Washington, D.C. as the Washington Nationals.  Furthermore, the 1998 expansion that brought the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks into the league featured three strong candidates in Mexico City, Monterrey, and Guadalajara, suggesting that the league may be more than willing to extend its bounds outside of the United States and Canada.

Major League Soccer – It won’t be the Cosmos, but Major League Soccer is coming into New York City with a team to rival the New York Red Bulls, a team that currently plays in Harrison, New Jersey.  The 25,000 seat stadium will be located in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park and share parking with Citi Field, home of the MLB’s New York Mets.  An ownerships group, stadium deal, and prospective owner should all be finalized within four-to-six weeks.

National Basketball Association – With Seattle the obvious expansion candidate for the 2014-15 season, should an expansion take place, the only remaining question is whether the league would stay at 31 teams or go to an even 32.  Louisville and Kansas City both have NBA-quality arenas done, and neither subjects the league to competition from the NHL.  Other markets that could house future franchises include St. Louis and Vancouver, a city that lost the Grizzlies to Memphis in 2001.

National Football League – The NFL is the best attended sports league in the world, but lacking even a team in Canada, the league has remained strictly within the United States apart from exhibitions in Toronto, Mexico City, and London.  The league could eventually see teams in all three of those markets, and with a “struggling” NFL franchise being relatively prosperous to teams in other leagues, the league has no extraordinary need for relocation (except maybe Jacksonville).  Besides international markets, the league needs to look at the second largest market in the United States: Los Angeles, a city that (with its suburb Anaheim) has two teams in the MLB, two in the NBA, two in the MLS, and two in the NHL.

National Hockey League – Amid the league’s third work stoppage of the Gary Bettman era, reports began to circulate that the league would be awarding two expansion franchises in the near future, most likely to Quebec and suburban Toronto.  With the NBA to Seattle efforts, Seattle ended up in the mix as well, but unless the NBA expands there, there will be no stadium to house an NHL team.  Portland and Kansas City both have made efforts to lure the Phoenix Coyotes from the desert.

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Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers made his season debut on Tuesday and dominated the Astros’ lineup, pitching a near perfect game, leaving with a 7-0 lead at Minute Maid Park.  Darvish came to the MLB from the Japanese Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) last off-season when the Rangers outbid the Chicago Cubs by a significant margin to earn the rights to sign Darvish.

The Astros moved to the American League West from the National League Central for the 2013 season, and opened their American League campaign with an 8-2 opening day victory over these same Texas Rangers.  The Rangers lost two straight World Series titles and then the first ever American League Wild Card Game, and have a mark of postseason shortcomings taking attention away from their continued success in recent years.

Darvish finished the night with 14 strikeouts, causing his pitch count reach 111 pitches.  Darvish’s perfect game would have been the 24th in MLB history, a feat that has become more common in recent years.  2012 saw Philip Humber, pitching for Houston on Wednesday, Matt Cain, and Felix Hernandez throw perfect games.  2010 included Dallas Braden and Roy Halladay, as well as the infamous officiating-spoiled perfection of Armando Gallaraga.

Former Cubs prospect Marwin Gonzalez broke up the perfect game with 2 outs in the 9th inning with a ground ball up the middle that got through Darvish’s leg.  Darvish left the game in good humor, smiling after his near-historic start.