Talking About Making New York Baseball a Threesome

Could baseball history repeat itself?

By Josh Alper
|  Tuesday, Jan 26, 2010  |  Updated 9:45 AM EDT
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Talking About Making New York Baseball a Threesome

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There are times when it is hard to believe that New York City once was the home of three baseball teams. The Mets and Yankees serve our baseball needs just fine and the thought of a third team in the mix seems hard to wrap your head around.

Then there are times when it seems like a pretty good idea. The city is bigger than it was back then, after all, and the suburbs make for an even bigger market that would seem able to create the fan base for a third squad. A third team would make things more interesting and it would make the battle between the three clubs a subplot within the larger framework of every baseball season.

Maybe that nostalgic allure is like the one for men wearing fedoras or eating at automats -- two other things that often seem better than what we have today mostly because they existed before we were around. Those two won't come back, but a third team seems to be a possibility, if a remote one. According to Peter Gammons of MLB.com, the inability of the Rays to draw fans, raise revenues or secure a new Tampa stadium has people in the MLB offices talking about our area.

The Rays haven't been able to solve their venue issue. The Trop is stuck in a place that no one East of Tampa -- such as the Orlando market -- will drive to; a place [former MLB Commish] Peter Ueberroth once said was only suited for tractor pulls; a market such that after its team won 97 games and the American League pennant, attendance and revenues stayed flat. There are smart people in the Major League Baseball offices wondering if there's hope of even discussing a potential move of the Rays to New Jersey or Southern Connecticut over certain protests from the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox and Phillies.

Don't go buying your Bergen County Badgers gear yet, obviously, but you do have to wonder how much the Yankees or Red Sox would really dislike a team in Southern Connecticut. It might cut into their revenues a little bit, but it's hard to believe that loss, which is hardly guaranteed, would bother them as much as helping to finance a Rays team that outplayed them in 2008. Those two franchises are gold standards with deep benches that a new team wouldn't threaten.

The Mets, on the other hands, would have something to worry about. The Yankees have a brand name that represents more than baseball, but the Mets would be vulnerable to an upstart Rays team coming to town, especially if they came with stars like Evan Longoria and David Price to make them an instant contender. They shouldn't worry too much, though.  

The issue with Southern Connecticut would seem to be where you would put a stadium. Bridgeport isn't too attractive a proposal and New Haven is too far from the city. A team at the Meadowlands would run into the same problems as the Nets and Devils when it came to filling seats 81 times a year. A Newark or Jersey City stadium wouldn't be hard to get to from the City, but financing the building with public money sounds like a non-starter in the current political environment.

That would also be the case for Brooklyn, a spot where you could actually see a groundswell of support for such a notion taking hold. At least, you could have seen it taking hold before the entire Bruce Ratner/Nets mess took away a viable location and turned into a boondoggle that no one wants to live through again. Maybe it's just that faux-nostalgia again, but the idea of a team in Brooklyn could have caught fire.

Without private cash doing all the heavy financial lifting, in fact, the idea of a new stadium is probably going to kill this idea before it gets off the ground anywhere in our backyard. There are still worse ideas to spend 15 minutes contemplating while waiting for Spring Training to start, though.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.

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