Portland, Charlotte, San Antonio, Sacramento, etc.: Every time there's an MLB team unhappy with its current situation, speculation gears up around what could be called the MLB Lite cities, those big enough to be on the cusp of big-league status without ever having landed an MLB team...The problem with all these cities, aside from none having stadium plans that are any further along than Oakland's, is that they're relatively puny by MLB standards. Sacramento, at number No. 20 among U.S. cities, is the largest TV market of the lot, with Portland (No. 22), Charlotte (No. 25), and San Antonio (No. 36) trailing behind. (And Sacramento looks less promising when you consider that its NBA franchise is limiting the number of luxury suites at its new arena because "we have zero Fortune 1000 companies.") Any of these cities could possibly be a marginal baseball market -- the two smallest current MLB markets are Milwaukee (No. 34) and Cincinnati (No. 35) -- but they all pale in comparison beside even a slice of the Bay Area, which nearly has more TV households than Sacramento and Portland combined.
A few good points from deMause:Montreal: Since the move of the Expos to Washington in 2005, there has been only one major North American market without a major-league baseball team, and that's Montreal, which if it were in the U.S. would be ahead of Seattle and Minneapolis. And the city did nearly sell out two exhibition games between the Jays and Mets this March, and Warren Cromartie is really really excited about getting a team back someday. Unfortunately, MLB deliberately slammed the door on Montreal when it moved the Expos, plus the city also has probably the only stadium standing that Lew Wolff would rather play in less than the Oakland Coliseum, and attempts to build a new one for the Expos went nowhere fast. Montreal should get another baseball team eventually, but it's hardly a ready-made move threat for a team like the A's.
New York: Yes, now we're getting silly. But it's worth pointing out: If you're going to consider San Jose as a place for the A's to move, why not New York City as well, which similarly has no stadium and is in the designated territory of another team, but which is absolutely bursting with rich people. If San Jose's lawsuit really does succeed in tearing down MLB control over franchise territories -- and not just in getting MLB owners to let the A's move to the South Bay in exchange for dropping the suit before things get to that point, which seems slightly more possible -- then there would be nothing stopping Wolff from heading east and building himself a stadium in Williamsburg, at least if half a dozen other teams didn't get there first.
- Just as it may be in MLB's best interest to pay off the Giants so the A's can go to San Jose, it may be one day in the league's best interest to pay off the Yankees and Mets so a third team can go to NY/NJ.
- Montreal remains perhaps the most likely candidate for the "next" relocation, whether it be the A's or the Rays...although:
- There are still no good relocation options for MLB teams right now. Good news for Rays fans in Tampa Bay....although:
- None of this will prevent franchise owners from still threatening to move. Why? Because it works.