Sunday, April 25, 2010

Just Not A Good Idea

This weekend I made my first trip to Las Vegas, going with one of our commenters Jason and some of the silent minority who reads but doesn't get caught up in the messageboards. Interesting place. Needless to say, I did not get to watch much of the Boston-Baltimore series. I know about Lugo ending the game on Friday night and then popping up a bunt on Sunday, and I saw JD Drew put together a pretty impressive battle and hit a double off the wall on a pitch that was out of the strike zone (yup, being aggressive and it worked--ain't that a B). I understand the team blew two (2) saves this weekend, bringing the total up to four for the season. They're just short of the 37 blown save pace.

I learned this weekend the answer to a long-debated question in baseball and in professional sports in general. The answer is no, and the question is should there be a professional sports team in Vegas. Granted, I was only there for a grand total of 33 hours, but it gave me enough reason to conclude this. There are three reasons for it:

1. The obvious thing: Gambling. Gambling has been part of sports for over a century, and in some cases it has been a thorn in the side of professional sports. From the Black Sox to Pete Rose to countless point-shaving scandals in the NCAA, gambling has seriously compromised the legitimacy--or perceived legitimacy of high-profile sports. Having a professional sports team so geographically close to obvious sources of conflicts of interest is just asking for trouble. We can probably argue about this until we're blue in the face--and people have. But this is the side of the fence I stand on.

2. It is not sustainable. I am well aware of the fact that Vegas is one of the most quickly growing cities in the United States. Well, if there are indeed so many locals who care about attending ballgames, why is Vegas's AAA baseball team only filling their stadium halfway to its 9,000-person capacity on average? Feel free to blame it on the oldness of the stadium or the geography surrounding it, but I don't buy it. For locals and tourists alike, there are way too many other things to do in this city to spend 3-5 hours at a baseball game. It is what it is.

3. Pacman Jones. He's the most glaring example, but is not the only one. I mean, do we have to talk about how Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, and Charles Barkley always hang out in Vegas and get themselves in trouble either financially or, well, otherwise? How about Antoine Walker? If you're talking about a professional baseball team full of millionaires, many from humble roots, playing 81 games there a week, once again, you're asking for trouble. Pacman, in addition to the making it rain incident in Vegas, has also placed a pretty penny on college football games in the city. That's not far from betting on his own sport. And I feel like Pacman spends less time in Vegas than athletes who will be playing there 81 times a year.

So I think it would be a risk to the sport, a risk to the prospective franchise, and a risk to the players. An interesting idea, but it's not a good idea.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

GM,

Way to change things up with an interesting post.

No there should not be a pro sports team in Vegas. That place is a spectacle.

Bandi

TimC said...

Really good point about the potential for athletes to have problems by being in Vegas for over half of a season. That issue, though, is probably more of a concern for the NBA and NFL than it is for MLB.

Does anyone know what other cities are being discussed as possibilities for MLB franchises?

Patrick said...

i think there's also something to be said for trying to keep a "traditional" element to american professional sports. i realize that "tradition" is deteriorating in other areas, but that's not logic in my book (and rarely is) to allow things to deteriorate in other areas. having a team in las vegas seems to much like a gimmick. as dv alluded to, if they were going to do it, baseball would seem like the worst fit of the four major sports (hockey shouldn't even be a consideration for vegas) because of the amount of games. it really takes interest in a team to sell tickets consistently to a baseball stadium, and interest isn't born overnight. as dv said, vegas has too many other attractions. and then there is the obvious issue of gambling that everyone is already talking about. this is a resounding no.

the gm at work said...

Other cities/areas would be Raleigh/Durham and Portland, Oregon. I think it's safe to say that the Minnesota franchise is safe for a while.

Also, I apologize for some of the mistakes I made in this post. Nobody's playing 81 games a week.

Anonymous said...

DV/PF

All your points about Las Vegas are sound. But, I think there's value in Las Vegas, if only because it could provide the league with some leverage against certain franchises.

For instance, it's clear that certain organizations are not willing to spend money on their product, be it the Marlins, the Pirates, or the Royals. As radical as the idea may seem, threatening to contract one or more of those teams with the plan being a dispersal draft and an expansion draft for a new team in Las Vegas may be an effective way to get teams to agree to a minimum payroll amount in the next collective bargaining agreement.

As for the moral/practical arguments about Las Vegas, I can't imagine it's any more tempting a place to live in than New York or Los Angeles. Ben Roethlisberger plays in Pittsburgh and gets in trouble in some no-name town the size of Waterville down in Georgia. Plaxico Burress becomes a felon in New York and Marvin Harrison may or may not have shot and killed someone in Philadelphia.

As far as gambling is concerned. You can do that from anywhere on the face of the earth. Sure, it's right in your face in Las Vegas, but it's entirely accessible from all locations.

--the Gunn

Patrick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Patrick said...

i think using las vegas as leverage is a fine idea. would probably have the most effect from a leverage standpoint just because it's such a "name" city. in terms of actual consolidation (which i don't think is a terrible idea), i'd toss san antonio and orlando into the mix. san antonio is a scenic city in a baseball state that we know can get into a sports franchise (the spurs). since that's all they have, they are also probably looking for a way to spend their summers from a pro sports perspective. orlando only makes sense if one of the franchises you are consolidating is the marlins or tampa bay (or both). another idea - and this is really wild - is putting florida and tampa bay closer to the actual big cities they are near. build a baseball stadium in miami and you might start getting more fans. having just been to tampa bay, get a stadium closer to that city that is a nicer place than the trop and you might start getting more fans there too. especially since both of these organizations have won at times, and in tampa bay's case are extremely well-run. i don't think that's a team you need to get rid of. if you were going to consolidate the florida teams, orlando is a place that makes sense if (1) it meant the florida teams were consolidates and (2) the disney world element. it's such a tourist attraction you might be able to fill the stands, certainly more than the marlins or rays in their present scenarios. i don't think orlando makes nearly as much sense as san antonio, or putting baseball parks in miami or tampa, however.

gunn -

i'd have to say vegas is quite a bit different than new york or los angeles from that perspective. new york and los angeles are just bigger versions of regular cities. but they are regular cities. las vegas is another thing entirely, even from an aesthetic standpoint. it just screams party and wildness.

i think gambling gets tied in along those same lines as well. no doubt you can access gambling anywhere, and that is a big problem in pro sports. but since it is already such a big problem, and we don't have a team in vegas, i think having it be so in your face on a daily basis could create even more of a problem.

the gm at work said...

I hate to say it because it breeds boringness on the blog, but I completely agree with Pat. Having never been to Las Vegas on April 23rd, I was against putting teams there, but now that I've been there and I know what it's like, I feel more strongly about it. It is definitely different from most cities, and by putting any kind of major league team there, you are just asking for trouble.

Going off of Tim C's vote that would have probably lit up the Colby Digest of Civil Discourse because of possible insinuations, I agree that the NBA and NFL would be even more of a problem because of the culture of those sports. In baseball, the players are generally more affluent in their roots, and therefore are slightly more conservative with their money. But still, you get a lot of "new money" athletes in baseball. You are getting players who used to sit under the mango tree in the DR, suddenly have A LOT of money, and are capable of throwing five figures in the air like it's nothing when they're going to Platinum Plus in Portland, ME on a three-day rehab assignment where it rains every night.

This would be magnified in Vegas because it's all so freaking accessible. Same goes with gambling.

from the bronx said...

gm, it is not your fault but i was kind of disappointed by this post. i saw the "just not a good idea" headline appear only a few hours after another stellar outing from the yankees' "4th starter," and i assumed pat had written something about the yankees' trading for javy vazquez.

my mistake.

by the way, .327/.428/.388 w/ 9 steals and 7 BB's to 5 K's.

Gardner will make the AL All-Star team.

jason said...

i think that a team in vegas in any sport would be players on opposing teams wet dreams, as they could go there and party while they are in town

The GM said...

FTB,

I have a feeling we'll have all season to talk about that. Homeboy's just not that good. That said, get him with Dave Duncan and he'll turn into Roy Halladay.

Jason,

Agreed with you there as well. Glad to know you're still alive.

from the bronx said...

yes, and he's getting innings that joba could be getting as a starter... and i thought that was the plan all along, right?

one of cashman's all time dumbest moves. it goes to show how overrated javy is, how bad he is playing for a team with pressure, and how weak the NL is compared to the AL.