On Thursday, Rob Manfred brought up the most exciting possible pro sports expansion destination since, well… Anyway, baseball should definitely head to MXC
Written by Kyle Magin
Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred just set what should be the new standard for expansion conversation. Forget hockey and its attempt to manufacture a fourth California-style market in Vegas, forget the NFL and its idea to export 8 regular season games featuring one team with 52 foreigners on its roster to London (or ‘pre-America’), forget even baseball and Manfred’s stated desire to return the league to that nice little French Canadian city to the north. That shit is child’s play, billionaires trading dollars between one graying metropolis and its erstwhile compatriots, that are all trying to become the Silicon Valley of not the Silicon Valley.
On Thursday night in a TV booth in Chicago, Manfred talked about the Big Kahuna, the boldest, most ambitious expansion ever discussed by a major U.S. sports league: Mexico City.
The Distrito Federal, as the seat of Mexican governance is known to its residents, would be the first of the world’s ten largest metros to field a home team in a North American big four league. It’s exactly the kind of forward-thinking, new-world embracing direction baseball should head in.
-Fanbase Growth: Dominating the Valley of Mexico, The D.F. ecompasses the Western Hemisphere’s most populous metropolitan area–21 million–and stands as the capital of Latin America and its own 122 million-person country. There are no bigger markets in the Americas. Filling a 45,000-seat stadium should be no problem for the valley’s residents; they already do it for the country’s second-tier soccer league, one imagines a top-tier league could appeal to the tiny sliver of the District’s population to fill a stadium 81 times per year.
-Challenging Soccer’s Hegemony: Sports leagues throughout the world currently rob Latin America of its greatest talents without returning much. Premier League rosters are as littered with Latin Americans as are the lineups in MLB. Placing a team in Latin America–in the region’s largest metropolis–signals to Latin America that it’s not simply a supplier of materiel, but a partner in the world’s new game. No longer will Mexicans, Dominicans, Panamanians, Cubans and other Latinos have to watch their boys play games for an Anglo audience in cities far away. It could go a long way to building goodwill for baseball in multiple soccer strongholds.
-It’s Natural: Mexico has a long history of embracing America’s pastime, since well before Fernandomania in the 1980s. More widely, Latin America has played the sport since nearly its beginnings–Cubans began playing in the 1870s. To finally place a team in its confines, in one of the few cities prosperous enough to support a squad, is long, long overdue. ¡Pleibol!