On Friday, I posted this article about Rosenthal’s realignment proposals (lol) and in one of the proposals, he suggests a third team in New York (the New Jersey A’s) to dilute the financial power of the Yankees and Mets from other divisions.
I thought originally the reasoning was poor for a number of reasons, but Rosenthal’s not far off on the team. The A’s have terrible attendance right now and their bid for a new stadium was shot down in the development stages.
New Jersey’s also not a bad spot. Although I don’t seem to have baseball TV markets by viewers available, there’s a lot of Yankees fans there. That this New Jersey team would dilute fans and revenue from the Yankees (who are, may I remind you, a national and international commodity, not a local one) and Mets, as Rosenthal suggests, is dubious. But that aside, there’s some merit to the argument of putting a third team there.
There’s a willing team, there’s a potential for a fan base, and there’s probably a good owner in New York that’s wanted to buy a team out there. But there’s still more problems that arise.
My biggest concern is a baseball metaphysics question: how do you build a fanbase with two already great franchises in the Yankees and Phillies less than 80 miles away and the Mets? The Mets were created to fill the void left from the Giants and Dodgers shipping west, so they already had that built in upon arrival and they still struggle to compete for fans with the Yankees.
At least when the Expos moved to Washington, there was precedent in the Senators and the Orioles were having some bad years. The market was ripe. For any team moving to New Jersey, any potential owner would be more attracted to leaching off revenue-sharing and a low payroll. I mean, why compete with the Yankees or Phillies when it’s easier to make money? It seems like there’s more potential for a New Jersey team to be seen as a bastard step-child than a baseball team.
My second biggest concern is that it shifts a lot more balance to the east coast, making travel easier on the Atlantic seaboard and more difficult on the western teams. There’s already a team from Texas in a West division, how much more unbearable would it be if a team as far west as Oakland moved as far east as possible?
Maybe the best option to add a New Jersey team is to add a 31st and 32nd team and put one of them there (and another in Riverside, which is surprisingly baseball’s largest “city” without a team). Even then, it makes more sense to not have a New Jersey team. Rosenthal seems to think it’d be good to dilute the Yankees’ fan base, but I think that’s a paradox. As much as I hate to admit it, baseball’s success is due partly because of the Yankees’ success, not in spite of it. So why screw up a good thing?