Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf , speaking at a fundraiser in Chicago on Wednesday uttered a word that is likely to get some attention and airtime in Tampa Bay and Oakland, contraction. Reinsdorf was asked about future expansion in baseball, and in his infinite wisdom replied,
“I don’t see any baseball expansion right now,” he said. “If it were up to me, I would contract two teams. But I certainly don’t think expansion [is] on the horizon.”
When fans yelled, “What two teams?” Reinsdorf clammed up.
“I have a habit of getting myself into trouble,” he said. “I just did yesterday. So I’m not going to (get in trouble).”
While he would not name the teams, the logical assumption is that he was speaking of the Tampa Bay Rays and the Oakland Athletics. It is not the first time that Reinsdorf has spoken of contraction, nor will it be the last. In 2002 Reinsdorf spoke of contracting the Minnesota Twins.
For teams with older and antiquated stadiums, in the judgment of baseball’s elite, this is the new default argument, threat if you will, that baseball uses against communities.
It used to be when baseball wanted to threaten a community about building a new stadium, they would discuss moving the team out of town. That always had a measure of success.
Ironically the Chicago White Sox were minutes away from moving to Tampa Bay in 1989 before some last-minute shenanigans by the Illinois legislature prevented the move.
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