Expansion Series 9: Kansas City

The next region I want to dive into is somewhat tricky, and I think the best way to discuss the state of Missouri would be starting with the home of the current Super Bowl champions: Kansas City.

KC is an area that is dominated primarily by the SEC and college sports… Nevertheless, the spotlight of the NFL has never been higher in Kansas City than it is right now, and it wouldn’t be the craziest thing in the world to expect a dynasty to begin as long as Patrick Mahomes is in the driver’s seat.

The offensive and defensive weapons that veteran coach Andy Reid has been given were speculated to be on the brink of a long-standing dominance, and now that they have proven battle-tested in the biggest game of the season and came away as champions, I would imagine that a lot of other NFL franchises are going back to the drawing board to try and combat the Chiefs.

Shifting focus to baseball, the Kansas City Royals tell a much different story. The Royals were World Series champions in 2015, but not much else has been positive since then, especially since the loss of their all-star infielder Mike Moustakas.

Where the Kansas City story gets tricky is when it comes to basketball. The closest team of interest with professional basketball would be the Oklahoma City Thunder, but this would be considered a locational stretch by any means. If a basketball team was extended to KC, it would be reasonable that there could be a considerable fan following. There is no record of a basketball team that called KC home, but that may be due in part to the Thunder.

The same story could apply even more so for a professional hockey team. The brief NHL history of Kansas City lies with the Kansas City Scouts, a former professional hockey team that only saw two years before relocating. The city also had the Blades (1990-2001) of the IHL and the Outlaws (2004-2005) of the UHL before the Kansas City Mavericks of the ECHL were founded in 2009.

For more in this series, read why Las VegasBuffaloIndianapolisHouston, New Orleans, Baltimore, Oakland and San Fransisco are also in need of expansion teams.

Expansion Series 8: San Francisco

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, every die-hard sports fan has missed out on some key events that otherwise would have occurred.

The possibility of not having a football season (college or professional) has me pinching myself to make sure that I’m not living in a dream. In an uncertain time in the sports world, it’s perfectly normal to let the mind wander when thinking about hypotheticals that otherwise would never happen.

Sports is what brings us all together, and one thing that every sports fan has in common is that the player, team, or coach that they cheer for represents something unique to them. The majority of fans resonate with a team regionally, and mainly reside locally. That being said, I will dive into each region that is craving a major sports team.

Going even further in Northern California, San Francisco has an incredibly fortuitous history of sports.

Beginning with football, the 49ers saw themselves in a bit of a haze after the departure of Colin Kaepernick, and the backlash of how the NFL dealt with that complex situation that is still discussed years later.

On the brighter side, Jimmy Garappolo and George Kittle helped lead the 49ers to a shot at winning the Super Bowl last season. Given that this team is currently very young, very hungry, and very talented, other teams in the division are left with a looming fear that this team will be problematic for years to come.

Nevertheless, San Francisco’s passion is staying for good not only for football but for basketball and baseball as well.

The Golden State Warriors had a reigning empire in the NBA for several years with regular season and postseason records rivaling the impressive run held by the Bulls in the nineties. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson still have unfinished business in the West despite their season disrupting injuries last season.

On the topic of Curry, some regard him as an individual who changed the nature of the game in that even the big men who would normally find themselves underneath the hoop are trying to prosper behind the arc. Along with changing the game, he also revived the energy of the fandom behind the team and the tickets have been sold out since, regardless if he is present on the court or not.

Shifting towards baseball, the Giants began the 2010’s as a powerhouse and succeeded with three World Series championships in the first half of the decade and have maintained a reputation of having a roster of power hitters and a strong pitching staff.

Before I dive into the hockey scene that, in my opinion, is the only thing missing is from this city, is a reference to the San Francisco Demons, which was another team in the original XFL in 2001.

The only hockey history that the city by the bay has is shockingly brief. The San Francisco Spiders of the IHL operated for one season and one season only.

Is the interest in hockey simply non-existent? There is only one way to find out.

For more in this series, read why Las VegasBuffaloIndianapolisHouston, New Orleans, Baltimore and Oakland are also in need of expansion teams.

Expansion Series 7: Oakland

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, every die-hard sports fan has missed out on some key events that otherwise would have occurred.

The possibility of not having a football season (college or professional) has me pinching myself to make sure that I’m not living in a dream. In an uncertain time in the sports world, it’s perfectly normal to let the mind wander when thinking about hypotheticals that otherwise would never happen.

Sports is what brings us all together, and one thing that every sports fan has in common is that the player, team, or coach that they cheer for represents something unique to them. The majority of fans resonate with a team regionally, and mainly reside locally. That being said, I will dive into each region that is craving a major sports team.

While Las Vegas has been a top prospect for new teams to expand to, the Oakland area is on the exact opposite end of the spectrum.

The Raiders found a new home in Las Vegas and the Golden State Warriors share the fandom from Oakland to San Francisco, which then turns into an entirely new discussion of who locals from the bay area decide to support.

The only team that currently calls Oakland home would be the Athletics who do indeed have a very long and interesting history. The A’s have been producing decent wins and have produced consistent wildcard berths in the last few years, but the crowd has been lacking for some time. The fans tend to filter back into the seats when the postseason begins, but the regular season has seen some declining ticket sales.

That narrative could be used to explain other sports interests combined with the Raiders leaving town. Raiders fans were incredibly passionate and now there could be some sort of a void on who to root for. Sports fans in Oakland more than likely would cheer for the team even though they are in Las Vegas, but perhaps there should not be a team expansion to the Oakland area.

In the case of hockey, the California Golden Seals had a brief tenure that ended in the mid-seventies, and that about does it. A very unlikely scenario would be that a football team could take the place of the Raiders, but passionate sports appreciation does not get replaced that easily.

For more in this series, read why Las VegasBuffaloIndianapolisHouston, New Orleans and Baltimore are also in need of expansion teams.

Expansion Series 6: Baltimore

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, every die-hard sports fan has missed out on some key events that otherwise would have occurred.

The possibility of not having a football season (college or professional) has me pinching myself to make sure that I’m not living in a dream. In an uncertain time in the sports world, it’s perfectly normal to let the mind wander when thinking about hypotheticals that otherwise would never happen.

Sports is what brings us all together, and one thing that every sports fan has in common is that the player, team, or coach that they cheer for represents something unique to them. The majority of fans resonate with a team regionally, and mainly reside locally. That being said, I will dive into each region that is craving a major sports team.

Baltimore is another city that has some potential for growth, but the majority of baseball and hockey fans cheer for the teams nearby in Washington D.C.

I say the more the merrier, and teams in close proximity have been known to forge great rivalries, i.e. New York against Boston. Given that Lamar Jackson was the youngest player to ever win the league MVP as well as being one of the most versatile quarterbacks the league has ever seen, let alone the entire league, this stroke of good fortune has certainly taken the eyeballs off of the misfortunate orioles.

The Baltimore Orioles have been significantly low performers in the last few years, trading away what little they had for prospects and seeing a steep decline in ticket sales. Regarding my earlier statement, the Baltimore area has not seen a local hockey team since the Baltimore Skipjacks, Baltimore Clippers and the Baltimore Bandits, which were members of a variety of different minor league associations until both were dissolved.

The story in regards to a history of Baltimore professional or even semi-professional basketball is even less prolific, but the Maryland Terrapins Division I basketball team has been a consistent powerhouse in the Big 10 conference.

In these strange times with an even foggier path going forward, Baltimore could benefit from another team to support. For more in this series, read why Las Vegas, Buffalo, Indianapolis, Houston and New Orleans also in need of expansion teams.

Expansion Series 5: New Orleans

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, every die-hard sports fan has missed out on some key events that otherwise would have occurred.

The possibility of not having a football season (college or professional) has me pinching myself to make sure that I’m not living in a dream. In an uncertain time in the sports world, it’s perfectly normal to let the mind wander when thinking about hypotheticals that otherwise would never happen.

Sports is what brings us all together, and one thing that every sports fan has in common is that the player, team, or coach that they cheer for represents something unique to them. The majority of fans resonate with a team regionally, and mainly reside locally. That being said, I will dive into each region that is craving a major sports team.

Shifting gears back to the south, there is one thing that each state in the southernmost region of the country is common: a divine love of sports and a consistent breed of talent.

SEC sports are treated as a religion in certain areas, and the state of Louisiana is no stranger. New Orleans has been on the brink of some serious breakthroughs in the world of football and basketball, but have been put through agony in the case of injuries and perhaps more serious, less-than-reputable officiating.

The Pelicans were so excited to be given the number one draft to take the promising and thunderous Zion Williamson from Duke, but injury issues relating to his monolithic size resulted in an early injury that he quickly rose above once he laced up and took the court consistently. Then when he started to heat up, the season was abruptly cut short.

Additionally, in 2018, the Saints were on the fast lane to the super bowl to face the ever-so-exciting Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs or the veteran and stress-tested defense of Bill Belichek and the New England Patriots. The only thing standing in the way of the biggest game of the season: The Los Angeles Rams. This postseason was some of the most exciting games in recent football history, with an unforeseen level of talent that presented endless possibilities. At the final hour, a questionable call, or shall I say lack thereof, caused a disappointing end to the game resulting in a loss. Each and every year, the Saints are an incredibly talented team that can never seem to reach the finish line.

In any case, the southern states are emphatic about sports, so there is more than enough room for a baseball team to expand. Unfortunately, the Triple-A affiliate of the Miami Marlins – and a contender for the best name in the league, the New Orleans Baby Cakes – closed its doors this year and relocated to Wichita. Even though the closest thing to professional baseball has left, there is still potential for a professional team to take its place. The hockey scene swiftly began and ended in 2002 when the New Orleans Brass emerged into the ECHL, so I doubt there would be any desire for a hockey team to return.

For more in this series, read why Las Vegas, Buffalo, Indianapolis and Houston are also in need of expansion teams.

Biggest Loser from the COVID-19 Fallout: Mookie Betts

He was supposed to be baseball’s next $400 million dollar man, and rightfully so. Mookie Betts was in pole position to have a monster offseason, where he would become the most sought-after unrestricted free agent.

The Red Sox had reportedly made several attempts to restructure the contract with Mookie. In 2016, he declined a five-year, $100 million deal. Following the 2017 season, Betts again turned down an offer of an eight-year, $200 million dollar contract. After his 2018 AL MVP season, Mookie was offered a ten-year deal, worth $300 million in the offseason. Mookie counter-offered with twelve years at $420 million. In an effort to recoup something in return for Betts, Boston dealt him away after the 2019 season. He was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers after insisting on hitting the market in search of his desired price tag. 

Like every other business, the market for athletes is dependent on the total market revenue. With the stoppage of play, each team will be affected differently. According to the New York Times, the LA Dodgers are currently at $232 million in local losses, with teams like the New York Mets, Chicago Cubs, and Boston Red Sox close behind with $214 million, $199 million, and $188 million in losses, respectively. 

Even if there is an abbreviated season, teams will lose out on a significant amount of revenue. This will take away from their ability to pay out contracts after the season, and the market will see an overall dip.  The Athletic’s Peter Gammons suggested that Betts would be “lucky” to earn a deal worth $250 million in the current market.

While it was unforeseeable during prior negotiations, Betts must be kicking himself over what could have been. He might not command the $420 million dollar price tag he was in search of, but he has a lot to prove if baseball is to be played this year. 

Does Boston now have the ability to offer Betts a competitive contract offer, due to the expected market dip?

Expansion Series 3: Indianapolis

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, every die-hard sports fan has missed out on some key events that otherwise would have occurred.

The possibility of not having a football season (college or professional) has me pinching myself to make sure that I’m not living in a dream. In an uncertain time in the sports world, it’s perfectly normal to let the mind wander when thinking about hypotheticals that otherwise would never happen.

Sports is what brings us all together, and one thing that every sports fan has in common is that the player, team, or coach that they cheer for represents something unique to them. The majority of fans resonate with a team regionally, and mainly reside locally. That being said, I will dive into each region that is craving a major sports team.

Next up, Indy.

The Colts have had a rocky history in the past 20 years with the empire of Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison being preceded by the ever so talented Andrew Luck, up until his surprising and early retirement. They had an ‘in the hunt’ season under the leadership of Jacoby Brissett, and the upcoming season will surely have some level of interest now that the veteran Philip Rivers will be joining the team.

The Pacers have seen their days in the limelight as well, as they have by and large found themselves in the playoffs over the last few years. Victor Oladipo gave the team some energy with his all-around skillset until his gruesome injury left the team in an emotional drought.

In recognition of the two sports that Indianapolis is lacking, the Indianapolis Indians are the current Triple-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates and were once home to the Indianapolis Racers, a professional hockey team. With little to go off of, I don’t see why Indy shouldn’t have a hockey team or a baseball team.

For more in this series, read why Las Vegas and Buffalo are also in need of expansion teams.

Expansion Series 2: Buffalo

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, every die-hard sports fan has missed out on some key events that otherwise would have occurred.

The possibility of not having a football season (college or professional) has me pinching myself to make sure that I’m not living in a dream. In an uncertain time in the sports world, it’s perfectly normal to let the mind wander when thinking about hypotheticals that otherwise would never happen.

Sports is what brings us all together, and one thing that every sports fan has in common is that the player, team, or coach that they cheer for represents something unique to them. The majority of fans resonate with a team regionally, and mainly reside locally. That being said, I will dive into each region that is craving a major sports team.

The next stop on our virtual tour is Buffalo, New York.

Buffalo has a solid sports following with the emergence of the Bills Mafia in the past few years, but the fandom has always been there. Josh Allen was just given an angel of an offensive weapon in Stefon Diggs this year and has proven to get a lot of things accomplished with a solid offensive line. Even further, now that Tom Brady has made his long-awaited exit from the AFC east, it has been speculated that the Bills will take the reins.

On the other hand, while the Sabres have one of the most impressive jersey designs in hockey right now, they do not have the most impressive amount of wins.

In regards to baseball, it may be too cold up in upstate New York to have a desirable baseball team in which players would actually be enthusiastic about, although they have Bison! The Buffalo Bisons are the current Triple-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays.

The same may go for basketball, but not necessarily because of the weather. Buffalo was actually once home to the Buffalo Braves until the team ownership moved to Los Angeles and is now known as the Los Angeles Clippers.

On a non-professional level, the University of Buffalo has been impressive to watch in the last few years and has a history of producing some excellent talent. The Buffalo Bulls’ basketball squad has a decent turnout during their regular-season games, but the citizens of upstate New York may be reluctant to watch a basketball game for an alma mater they did not attend.

For more in this series, read why Las Vegas is also in need of expansion teams.

Expansion Series 4: Houston

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, every die-hard sports fan has missed out on some key events that otherwise would have occurred.

The possibility of not having a football season (college or professional) has me pinching myself to make sure that I’m not living in a dream. In an uncertain time in the sports world, it’s perfectly normal to let the mind wander when thinking about hypotheticals that otherwise would never happen.

Sports is what brings us all together, and one thing that every sports fan has in common is that the player, team, or coach that they cheer for represents something unique to them. The majority of fans resonate with a team regionally, and mainly reside locally. That being said, I will dive into each region that is craving a major sports team.

Houston is an interesting case because the sports franchises that reside there are so strong and have been very good in the last few years, legally or otherwise.

Even with the cheating scandal, the Astros were a very talented team and are absolutely still a very strong contender going forward.

The Texans, under the field leadership of Deshaun Watson, have a lot to strive for despite losing arguably one of the best wide receivers in the game in Deandre Hopkins. J.J. Watt is a personal hero of mine, but fans may be at their wits end with Bill O’Brien after Hopkins was sent to the Cardinals for not nearly enough in return (running back David Johnson).

Lastly, the Rockets have one of the best duos in the game in Russell Westbrook and James Harden; two MVP’s that still show MVP talent. They absolutely would have caused a problem for any other team standing in their way of an NBA championship, which would have been the first time in the finals for each of them.

Additionally, they even had an XFL team in the Houston Roughnecks during its brief existence before COVID-19 decided to cut the season short. The Roughnecks played at the University of Houston’s stadium and went undefeated through the only five games of the season.

What the city lacks is hockey, and much like Buffalo does not have desirable weather to house a baseball franchise, the same paradox applies to the warm weather of Texas for hockey fans. The closest thing they had to a hockey team was the Houston Aeros, which was an AHL affiliate of the Minnesota Wild until 2014.

For more in this series, read why Las Vegas, Buffalo and Indianapolis are also in need of expansion teams.