Hey baseball fans!
2020 Spring Training is officially upon us, which means we don't care about the American and National Leagues right now. It's all about Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues! During Spring Training, the eastern MLB teams head to Florida, while the teams in the west head to Arizona. What's interesting about this is that Florida and Arizona were some of the last states to get baseball teams. Why is that important? Read on to find out!
It's no coincidence that the Rays, Marlins, and Diamondbacks are three teams that could look to relocation in the coming future. Just this week, it was released that the D-Backs have talked about moving to Vancouver, having visited the Canadian city and hometown of Seth Rogen twice in the last two years. I actually really like the Diamondbacks stadium and their attendance is only so-so, not dwindling like the Rays and Marlins. So, why the potential move? Well, in 1946, when Bill Veeck convinced the Indians and Giants (then in New York) to play some Spring Training games in Phoenix, wanting to rid his franchise (he had just bought the Indians) of the African-American discrimination of Florida, he inadvertently created the Cactus League. The Grapefruit League was formed years before, some claiming as early as 1913. So, by the time the Marlins (1993), Rays, and Diamondbacks (both 1998) came into existence, for four to six weeks of every February and March, Floridians and Arizonans got front row seats to their favorite teams outside their state.
The Yankees and Dodgers have well-known fan bases in Florida, dating back to when the Dodgers were in Brooklyn. "Dodgertown" in Vero Beach, Florida became a hub for Dodger fans in the eastern part of the country as early as 1948. Meanwhile, the Yankees have been playing in George M. Steinbrenner Field since 1996, two years before the Rays moved into the exact same metropolitan area. As for the Diamondbacks? Well, the Cactus League had as many as nine teams playing Spring Training games in Arizona in 1989, also the year when two western teams, the Giants and A's, were in the World Series. My point here is that the MLB placed expansion teams in cities where a lot of fans rooted for other teams. Now, all three teams have made the World Series in the 20+ years of their respective existences, but their current success is satisfactory at best (and even worse for the Marlins).
So, I raise the point again, just like I have so many times before: relocation and expansion is how to keep a sport from going stale. Arizona to Las Vegas, Tampa to Montreal, and Miami to Charlotte or Nashville (not to mention Oakland to Portland). Leave the Sunshine and Grand Canyon States for baseball in the winter. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."