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Expanding MLB is the only way to save baseball

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The best way to fix baseball’s broken player salaries is to have more baseball

League Championship Series - Boston Red Sox v Houston Astros - Game Three Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Just think of him. One of the eight or nine best humans at what he does, just flicking lint from his belly and looking at his friends’ likes on Insta. There’s no reason Dallas Keuchel isn’t playing for real this spring — other than that 30 teams don’t quite think he’s worth how much he’ll improve their team.

It’s not just him, of course. And even those guys who do have contracts — Derek Dietrich and Jose Iglesias ought to be worth 1000 PAs in the pivot, not carrying water at the far end of a locker room. But you can’t blame the Reds: Jose Peraza is still a potential star, and Scooter Gennett is – weirdly – quite good. There are more good young players in baseball than seemingly any other time in its history, and its forcing the older guys who are often guaranteed more money out of a job.

This is an exceedingly dumb problem. Major League Baseball has a surfeit of talent. This is perhaps the most talent that has ever existed at one time, as well as the Baltimore Orioles. And the owners are trying to nickel-and-dime the talent instead of doing the obvious thing: allowing them to make everyone more money.

Baseball has two ways to solve the contract crisis. There can be an excruciating labor negotiation that will almost certainly involve a strike, cancelled games, and Mike Trout hitting .478 in the Dominican Winter League. Or, there can be more baseball.

What does expansion mean for you

It means more baseball. 324 more games, if my math is correct. That’s a lot of baseball! You, you like baseball. Here’s even more of it!

What does expansion mean for the players

With the rosters going up to 26 players, two new teams means 52 new major league roster spots. That means Michael Brantley getting to try and be the face of a new franchise, Jose Iglesias leading a young infield, and Gio Gonzalez getting a bit more than Odrisamer Despaigne money.

This also means more opportunities for the fringe guys. Your Phils Ervin, your Connors Joe will be able to win spots if the end of a roster isn’t filled up by a random old guy taken on for his contract. More teams means more opportunity for major league salaries, for everyone.

What does expansion mean for the owners

Expansion fees, mostly. Which are a bit of a ponzi scheme, to be sure, but it’s not like team owners will turn down good money.

The owners are a cartel. Growing the pie, besides being a bad and perhaps even gross metaphor, is pretty darn good for the cartel. Baseball is unique among the major sports for being a regional draw, and regions without Major League Baseball are essentially untapped markets for pure, uncut, strikeouts and dingers. Few folks in a non-major market are watching the sport or making the trip, or generally Spending Money on Big League Things, which is what owners want.

Igniting new regions, or more realistically elevating minor league regions, gives more opportunities for baseball executives to make money. That’s really all they want.

What does expansion mean for cities

OK, lets start off with the caveat that stadiums are wildly bad investments for cities. Cincinnati, in particular, has near-legendary bad deals on its stadiums. Buuuuuuut it’s not like we can just have Luis Castillo throwing pebbles at the goats in Goebel Park. They gotta play somewhere.

Let’s add two new somewheres, one in the AL and one in the NL. This allows us to break up the always-interleague shondaleh and break things into 8 divisions of four.

Looking at the list of US cities by size, well, hunh. San Antonio in the summer doesn’t sound like fun. Neither does Jacksonville anytime. Columbus? Charlotte? Baltimore??

This is my goofy scenario, so I get to choose the teams. I say El Paso gets one, because a team on the border would be fun as shit what with international home runs and Beto standing on top of the dugout, gesticulating wildly at the fans to make some noise. Oklahoma City gets one too, because well I dunno, they deserve something. So you got the:

American League

East

  • NY Yankees
  • Boston
  • Toronto
  • Cleveland

South

  • Tampa
  • Houston
  • Texas
  • Baltimore

West

  • Oakland
  • Seattle
  • LA Angels
  • Oklahoma City

North

  • Chicago White Sox
  • Kansas City
  • Minnesota
  • Detroit

National League

East

  • NY Mets
  • Philadelphia
  • Pittsburgh
  • Washington

South

  • Miami
  • Arizona
  • El Paso
  • Atlanta

West

  • LA Dodgers
  • Colorado
  • San Francisco
  • San Diego

North

  • St. Louis
  • Chicago Cubs
  • Milwaukee
  • Cincinnati

But aren’t we getting away from ourselves

Yes. The whole point of this exercise is the whole point of American life: we need more of everything, to make more money with it, because our children will be eating chickpeas and lentils seasoned with cricket protein.

It’s bonkers that the players aren’t getting paid. The easiest way to get them paid is to get more players, which means more baseball, and more fun for all of us. Well, not for Kid Schourek flossing the antennae out of her teeth 20 years from now, but for the rest of us: hooray baseball, and hooray ensuring that more baseball players become millionaires.