Pseudo-wild card: American metro areas & the Big Four

If you’ve seen several of my other posts, you may have noticed a little trend developing. Confession time: I like maps. And not just your usual, “Lemme check with Google to see how long it takes to get from point A to point B.” I used to enjoy just flipping through atlases for no reason and may or may not have, one more than occasion, opened Google’s Maps app on my phone just because. They’re also, to me at least, an interesting & appealing way to represent data or facts, no matter how simplistic. It’s one thing to look at the groupings I’ve compiled below in a table, but another to see it spread out across a given swath of land.

Here in good ol’ America, we’ve got ourselves quite the diverse array of professional sports available to us: NASCAR, MMA, soccer, skateboarding, rodeo, and so on. There are four leagues, of course, that outdraw all others, thanks to their long histories and widespread availability and appeal to the public: Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, and the National Hockey League.

american-sports

Of course, not every major city gets to host a team (or more) from each of these leagues. I was curious as to just how it broke down, as to how many cities field teams in one, two, three, or all four of the leagues. To help standardize the list just a tiny bit, I defined teams based on the location of their home stadium; the cities designated in the table and on the map are the primary or most populous city in Metropolitan Statistical Areas as defined by the US Office of Management and Budget.

The table and map, therefore, are simplified. For example, even though the New York Giants and Jets don’t actually play in NYC, East Rutherford, NJ is still a part of the New York MSA, so I’ve counted New York as having at least one NFL franchise. Furthermore, you could name any number of teams who technically play in a suburb of the city after which they’re named (e.g. Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, sort of).

Then there’s the bizarre case of the San Francisco 49ers who, in 2014, began playing in Santa Clara which, despite its inclusion as part of the “San Francisco Bay Area,” is actually part of the San Jose MSA. Luckily for the San Francisco MSA, they’ve got the Oakland Raiders, and therefore can claim a franchise in three of the Big Four.

One other note: I didn’t include Canada, partially because the NFL has yet to invade our neighbors to the north on a permanent basis–that means I’d have to represent the Canadian Football League teams out there, so as though it didn’t appear that only Toronto has any semblance of professional sports culture and Montreal, Vancouver, and Ottawa are relative backwaters with nothing going on when the Stanley Cup isn’t being contested. But then that would be five leagues, and I would suspect that about 99.999% of Americans don’t care about Canada’s version of football. So, no orange dot for Toronto, and no green dots for all the other Canadian franchises in the NHL.

The table

Some observations:

  • Overall, there are 42 MSAs that host at least one franchise from the Big Four. Eleven of these host all four leagues; eight metro areas are home to three; 12 enjoy the play of two leagues; and another 11 get only one
  • Going off the list of MSAs on the ever-reliable Wikipedia, among the top ten based on 2014 population estimates, Los Angeles (#2, 13.3 million), Houston (#5, 6.5 million), and Atlanta (#9, 5.6 million) each only have three sports represented. Of course, LA claims six franchises in the NHL, NBA, and MLB, and will likely have an NFL franchise (or two) to call its own soon, as well
  • Not on the spreadsheet, per se, but nine teams play in the New York MSA
  • Fifteenth-largest Seattle (3.7 million) has as many of Big Four represented as does fiftieth-large Buffalo (1.1 million)
  • Among the thirty largest MSAs in the United States, only Southern California’s Inland Empire (Riverside/San Bernardino/Ontario, #13) and Las Vegas (#30) don’t host any teams from the Big Four
  • Portland (#24) is the largest metro area with a single league represented, but is followed immediately on the list by San Antonio, Orlando, and Sacramento–all four solely represented by the NBA
  • Speaking of the NBA, on top of those for franchises, the league as an additional three teams (Memphis, Oklahoma City, and Salt Lake City) who are the only Big Four teams in town. MLB, NFL, and NHL have four such cities between the three of them: Columbus, OH; Raleigh, NC; Jacksonville, FL; and Green Bay, WI
  • Among three-league areas, St. Louis is most akin to Pittsburgh and Tampa, in that they are all home to MLB, NFL, and NHL franchises. Houston, Atlanta, San Francisco, and Cleveland all host MLB, NFL,  and NBA teams. Only poor old Los Angeles lacks the NFL team
  • Charlotte (21) is the largest MSA without an MLB franchise; Seattle (15) is the largest missing from the NBA; Houston (5) is the largest without an NHL team
  • Cleveland (31) has had at least two leagues represented for practically forever; Columbus (32), which is now poised to surpass it in terms of metro population, hosted its first Big Four franchise a mere fifteen years ago
  • For all its population, none of California’s MSAs have teams in all four leagues (though, as I pointed out near the top, the colloquial Bay Area does)
  • California has five MSAs with pro teams; Florida has four; Ohio and Texas have three; Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Wisconsin all have two.
    • Those ten states account for 27 MSAs with teams, which leaves fifteen MSAs whose dominant city is the only city in that state (or district, as in DC) with a team.
    • That leaves a full 26 states without any MSAs centered there without a team.
    • Since Cincinnati’s stretches in to Kentucky; Kansas City’s, in to Kansas; Charlotte’s, in to South Carolina; New York’s, in to New Jersey; Philadelphia’s, in to New Jersey and Delaware; Washington, D.C., in to Virginia and West Virginia; and Boston’s, in to New Hampshire; that leaves 18 states without any local (as defined by the OMB) rooting interest in the Big Four of American professional sports: AL, AK, AR, CT, HI, ID, IA, ME, MS, MT, NE, NV, NM, ND, RI, SD, VT, and WY
  • If you turn on the “avg. location” layer in the map, you’ll see the location corresponding the MSAs featuring all four leagues is easily the farthest east by nearly 400 miles. This likely has a great deal to do with the origins of each league.
    • As I’ve discussed elsewhere, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago all had (or currently have) at least two MLB franchises at some point in their respective histories
    • Chicago, Detroit, New York, and Boston are counted among the NHL’s “Original Six” franchises
    • Given the expansion trends in all four leagues, generally from the northeast on westward, it should come as no surprise that the more entrenched ones might tend to reside in the northeast
    • Of the twelve MSAs located north and east of the pink, er, pale red dot, five enjoy the presence of all four leagues

So, yeah… nothing earth-shattering. Some cities have more teams than others. Some states have no teams. Three cheers for new findings!

 

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Old Birdos

Unless you’ve been living under a rock since the Cubbies eliminated the Cardinals from the 2015 MLB postseason, you’re probably aware that Jason Heyward recently departed St. Louis in free agency for a certain *hated* rival. Chicago formally introduced the J-Hey Kid on December 15; he wasted no time in taking a veiled swipe at his former employers, noting the aging core players in St. Louis as a big reason in his decision to pack his bags and head north.

As you might expect, Cards manager Mike Matheny took exception to this characterization of his ballclub. But while it might seem, at first glance, that the Cardinals stars–Adam Wainwright, Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina–are ancient compared to the Cubs’, was there really that sizable a gap last season, and did it really get worse this offseason?

According to Baseball-Reference.com, the Cardinals entire 2015 roster, whether participating in 155 games like Jhonny Peralta or 1 like Marco Gonzales, Nick Greenwood, and Dean Anna, had an average age of 28.4 years–27.8 among pitchers and 28.5 among position players. The Cubs were an average of 26.5 years old among position players and 29.5 years on the hill, for a total average of 26.7 years, or 1.7 years younger than the Cardinals.

To get a little closer, though, to Heyward’s actual meaning, I should really look at players who started more often than not. The Cards’ most common lineup, which, admittedly, only appeared in a grand total of 8 games:

  1. Matt Carpenter – 29 years old
  2. Jason Heyward – 25
  3. Matt Holliday – 35
  4. Matt Adams – 26
  5. Jhonny Peralta – 33
  6. Jon Jay – 30
  7. Yadier Molina – 32
  8. Kolten Wong – 24
  9. (pitcher)

Together, these eight position players average 29 years and 3 months.

The Cubs:

  1. Dexter Fowler – 29 years old
  2. Kris Bryant – 23
  3. Anthony Rizzo – 25
  4. Starlin Castro – 25
  5. Miguel Montero – 31
  6. Jorge Soler – 23
  7. Chris Coghlan – 30
  8. (pitcher)
  9. Addison Russell – 21

Twenty-five years and 10 1/2 months. Even when accounting for any and all position players who appeared in more than 81 regular season games, which replaces Matt Holliday with Randal Grichuk for St. Louis and adds Chris Denorfia to Chicago’s list, the Cubs still hold an advantage of about a year and a half.

When you start to look at pitching, however, the Cardinals seem to be more in-tune with any sort of “youth movement.” After Adam Wainwright tore his Achilles in the third week of the regular season, John Lackey, 36, led a group significantly younger starters for the bulk of the season. Lackey, together with Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez, Lance Lynn, and Jaime Garcia, were an average of 27 years and 7 months.

Furthermore, occasional starters Tyler Lyons and Tim Cooney were 27 and 24, respectively. Additionally, four Cardinal relievers appeared in at least forty games on the regular season; three of the four (Trevor Rosenthal, Kevin Siegrist, and Seth Maness) were no older than 26 at any point during the season.

The Cubs’ pitching staff, meanwhile, was *significantly* older, especially in the more prominent roles. The four starters who barely missed a start the entire season–Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, and Jason Hammel–were an average of 29 years and 3 months old in 2015. The fifth most-used starter, Dan Haren, was the oldest starter in the rotation following his trade from Miami before the deadline; he pitched for St. Louis over a decade ago!

Moreover, the six relievers to accumulate at least forty appearances on the season were an average of two months shy of 29; technically, that’s only slightly older than the Cards’ pen, but if we throw out crazy outliers like Randy Choate, who’s old enough to be Kris Bryant’s father, the Cardinals are overall younger on the pitching staff.

The other means by which to view Heyward’s recent comments are to look forward to 2016: how old are the projected lineups for each ballclub? Because, after all, that’s more or less what he was looking at, whether intentionally or no.

The Cardinals’ current projected lineup (as of December 21), according to RotoChamp, reads as follows (ages are as of Opening Day 2016):

  1. Matt Carpenter – 30 years old
  2. Stephen Piscotty – 25
  3. Matt Holliday – 36
  4. Randal Grichuk – 24
  5. Jhonny Peralta – 33
  6. Brandon Moss – 32
  7. Kolten Wong – 25
  8. Yadier Molina – 33

Twenty-nine years and nine months… ever so slightly older than 2015’s most commonly-used lineup. But, technically, slightly younger without Heyward; since Holliday was going to start irrespective of Heyward’s presence, Piscotty or Grichuk, both of whom are younger, vaulted in to the starting lineup with #22’s departure.

RotoChamp is currently projecting the following lineup for Chicago:

  1. Ben Zobrist – 34
  2. Jason Heyward – 26
  3. Anthony Rizzo – 26
  4. Kris Bryant – 24
  5. Kyle Schwarber – 23
  6. Jorge Soler – 24
  7. Miguel Montero – 32
  8. Addison Russell – 22

About two years younger than the Cards’ projected lineup. But what stands out to me, more than anything else, is the acquisition of Ben Zobrist. Pretty old for a “youth movement”-oriented team, no?

RotoChamp also projects likely or possible starters. Wainwright, 34; Wacha, 24; Martinez, 24; Garcia, 29; Gonzales, 24; and Lyons, 28, populate the Cardinals’ rotation. Together, they’ll be an average 27 years and two months old come Opening Day.

The Cubs, meanwhile, got older when they acquired John Lackey, 37, after he chose not to re-sign with the Cardinals. He’s joined by Arrieta, 30; Lester, 32; Hendricks, 26; Hammel, 33; Trevor Cahill, 28; and Adam Warren, 28. This projected rotation will be over an average of 30 years and six months old on Opening Day–more than three years older than the Cardinals starters!

Ultimately, it’s not terribly difficult to understand why Heyward chose the Cubs. When it comes to the age of core players, there’s substantially greater hype surrounding Cubs position players like Bryant, Rizzo, Schwarber, and Russell when compared to the Cardinals trio of Wong, Piscotty, and Grichuk. But let’s not forget the tear the Cardinals starters, even without Adam Wainwright, were on for the first few months of the 2015 season.

Perhaps even more important is the common knowledge with any sport involving free agency. Once a team loses that ability to almost unilaterally control the contract to which younger players are entitled, it’s faced with a tough decision: pay the player what he wants, or let him walk in free agency. Prior to that, some players are able to state their case at an arbitration hearing and their team is almost always required to pay more than they were paying under the player’s initial contract.

For the Cubs, unless they sign both players to contract extensions first, Addison Russell and Kris Bryant are arbitration-eligible in 2018, while Kyle Schwarber joins them the following season; all three are currently slated to become free agents in 2022, following Rizzo (’20) and Soler (’21). While those events may seem like the distant future, it perhaps does lend a clue as to why Jason Heyward’s 8-year $184 million contract includes opt-out clauses (for the player) following the 2018 and ’19 seasons. It’s one way to lock him down for a seemingly reasonable price for the next few years, but part of me wonders if the Cubs hope he performs well enough that he does elect to void the remainder of his contract around when they’ll likely need to empty their pockets for the aforementioned “core.”

And, of course, Cardinals fans also have prior history to fall back on. The team, despite several roster turnovers, has generally exceeded expectations for a market on the smaller end of the spectrum over the past two decades, and there’s no reason to believe that will suddenly cease. Likewise, we can only hope Cubs fans’ hubris over their young players leads to a karmic repeat of the era of good feelings that Kerry Wood and Mark Prior ushered in and Dusty Baker quickly dashed a decade ago.

Commissioner for a day: MLB edition

If you’re an avid sports fan, chances are you’ve made a comment at some point about how, if you were in charge of a sport or league for just one day, you change x. Granted, it’s fairly unrealistic that I might ever expect to become commissioner of Major League Baseball; if I were to somehow achieve that position, there’s some pretty strict checks and balances in place that would preclude me from enacting the sweeping changes I’d like to see made.

But, hey, here in fantasy-land, even FDR never had it this good. I’ve compiled a list of changes I would make to MLB under the iron fist of my rule, before benevolently stepping aside after 24 hours on the job.

Inter-league play

A few years ago, I would have swiftly abolished inter-league play. I used to think the idea of playing division opponents 18 times a season was pretty cool, but now I’m not so certain. I mean, as a fan of a team that’s been more successful than not over the past 20 years, you’d think I’d love watching my team beat up on inferior opponents. But while that’s all fun, an 837-650 record (.563) against a division that, until the past few years, has been more lightly-regarded than others in baseball doesn’t always translate to postseason success. Since 1996, the Cardinals have a winning record vs. the NL Central 15 times against one .500 record (2010) and four losing records (1997, 1999, 2006, and 2008).

I would actually expand inter-league play, such that every team would play at least one series against each of the other 29. The NBA, NHL, and MLS all match up every team for at least one game every season (the NFL, of course, can’t unless it wants to play a 31-game schedule, but I hear they’re having enough difficulty getting players to sign on for 18). Furthermore, fans will be able to see teams from the opposite league every other season, rather than once every six years. Cardinals fans, wouldn’t it have been cool to see Albert Pujols and the City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California Angels of Anaheim, Orange County, California visit Busch Stadium in 2012 or 2013 instead of waiting all the way until 2016? Imagine the vitriol we could have summoned in the year or two after he spurned us! Now, it’s just general indifference… the Cards have made the postseason every year without him, he sucked (by his lofty .300/30/100 standards) for a couple of years to make us happy, and, most importantly, the Angels were swept out of their only postseason appearance in his four seasons by the Royals in 2014.

My other argument for increasing the number of series between the AL and NL is so that it’s just more equitable. One of the difficulties in handicapping a team’s postseason chances is that, even over 162 games, not all records and statistics are equal. When MLB began inter-league play in 1997, each division squared off against its opposite for all contests; this format continued through the 2001 season, before baseball decided to at least rotate the annual divisional match-ups. I wondered how NL East teams felt, having to play the Yankees every year while the NL Central got to beat up on the generally-abysmal Twins, Royals, and Tigers (not that the Pirates were any better over that stretch).

The designated hitter

If you’re going to expand the number of contests between the two leagues, I may as well establish the same set of rules for both leagues. Pretty much the only difference between the AL and NL anymore, now that there’s 15 teams in each league and umpires work for MLB and not just one league or the other, is the DH. And as a fan who grew up watching National League baseball, I cannot and will not support the abomination that is the designated hitter.

Imagine if Shaq, .527 on his career from the charity stripe, got to select any teammate to shoot free-throws. Yes, it would have put a stop to the Hack-a-Shaq strategy pretty quickly if Kobe, .837 for his career, shot for him. But FTs are a part of that game, so it’s absurd to give a player a pass because he isn’t as good at that part of the game as he should/could be.

Let’s say you’ve got another player who’s superb in the field but dreadful at the plate? Let’s create a designated fielder position (or a second DH, as it were), so that we can keep him in the game for the full 9 innings, while still allowing another player to hit for him.

To me, the absurdity of those two scenarios outweighs any “but the pitcher’s an automatic out” sniffling you hear from American League fans. Likewise, the talk of injury concerns with pitchers hitting is even more foolish. It came up when Adam Wainwright ruptured his Achilles leaving the batter’s box last season, but the truth is that pitchers are infinitely more likely to get hurt pitching than they are batting or running the bases. Just because they specialize in throwing the ball doesn’t mean they’re not as athletic as their teammates (for the most part).

Really, football is the only major sport that allows players to only play on one side of the ball/puck. In hockey and basketball, regular substitutions are made, but players who don’t contribute on defense in those sports are held in slightly lower esteem because of it. Soccer is more akin to baseball, insofar as a player can be substituted in and out of a game only once. As with basketball and hockey, forwards in soccer often need to assist on defense. Furthermore, a recent trend in the sport makes use of the ability of wide defenders to overlap midfielders on the flanks to help out on offense.

I also find the postseason strategy surrounding the DH silly. “Oh no, are we going to risk playing our long-ball-mashing-poor-fielding DH in the field when we travel to the NL city? Or should we play our light-hitting-solid-fielding 1B instead?” If the choice wasn’t there, then the DH would have been exposed years ago and, despite his steroid-aided ability to rake, would probably be playing in a men’s slow-pitch league back home.

Last note, on a more personal level: it reminds me of my youngest sister playing t-ball and throwing a fit because she had to play in the field if she wanted to bat. I was in my first or second year of playing baseball, remember trying to reason with her, to show her the logic of being required to play on both offense and defense. So, yeah, the American League is like my preschool- or kindergarten-aged sister was ca. 1992.

Season length

One hundred sixty two games is a lot. Too many, especially when players aren’t allowed to take amphetamines or steroids to assist their performance and focus anymore. So baseball can either legalize “greenies,” or decrease the schedule length so players aren’t completely worn down when the postseason rolls around. For almost the entire first six decades of the 20th century, both the AL and NL played a 154 game schedule.

While that seems reasonable, it doesn’t quite achieve my goal of reducing the length of the regular season by one week (six or seven games) and giving teams more days off throughout the season. The 2015 season lasted 26 weeks (give or take a day) which means roughly every four weeks a given team would play every day in the week. Reducing the schedule to 25 weeks with six games a week and an additional two days off for the All-star break (e.g. Monday-Wednesday open) yields a 148-game schedule.

I suppose the loudest complaint here would come from players chasing single-season and career records. After all, Cal Ripken, Jr.’s 2,632-game “iron man” streak would take about 16.25 162-game seasons to break, but a full season and a half longer (17.78) with a 148-game schedule. But you know how many players played every game last year? One–Baltimore’s Manny Machado. Furthermore, only 83 position players exceeded 148 games played–not even three per team.

Postseason

Part of the reason for decreasing the length of the regular season is to ensure that the Fall Classic doesn’t spill in to November. The World Series should always end in October. That said, I do want to expand the postseason. But before you post angry comments threatening my family, allow me to state I am in no way advocating for the watered-down b.s. you see in the NBA and NHL.

Rather, I’ve decided I don’t mind the second wild card, but would like to see that series expanded to a quick best-of-three set. End the regular season on a Sunday, reserve Monday in case you need any single-game playoffs to determine which team advances, have the wild card games Tuesday-Thursday, then begin the division series with games 1 and 2 Friday and Saturday. This way, you place the winner of the wild card series at a disadvantage against its LDS opponent by forcing them to play, potentially, five games in five days (or nine in nine, if they play Friday-Sunday to end the season, Monday in a playoff, Tuesday-Thursday in the wild card series, and Friday-Saturday in the division series).

As for the remainder of the postseason, I understand the need to schedule the games the way they are with TV and ticket sales, though I’m not a huge fan of the break between the LCS and World Series if both league champions win the former in four or five games. In 2015, for example, the Mets played their final NLCS game when they destroyed the Cubbies on October 21; they had five full days off before beginning the World Series on the 27th. Now imagine if the Royals had finished off the Blue Jays that same night–five days with seemingly endless conjecture about the World Series. True, it’s not as insufferable as the two weeks between the NFL’s conference championships and the Super Bowl, but it does seem like too much downtime for a sport that plays practically every day for six months.

Ultimately, though, by concluding the regular season a week earlier, the postseason also wraps up safely by Halloween, even in preserving the current format with breaks between series and travel days.

The All-star game

No “rules I’d change” post is complete, of course, without undoing the most horrific deed Bud Selig enacted while holding the post: home-field advantage in the World Series tied to the All-star game result.

2002 was a great summer. Star Wars Episode II and Spider-Man were popular choices at the box office; St. Louis’ own Nelly’s “Hot in Herre,” plus Eminem’s “Without Me” and “The Middle” from Jimmy Eat World, were blowing up the Billboard Hot 100; and baseball’s Midsummer Classic bore no impact on that season’s World Series.

Until, that is, Joe Torre (AL) and Bob Brenly (NL) ran out of pitchers after 11 innings in a 7-7 tie. They decided, along with Selig, to call the game if the NL failed to score in the bottom of the 11th, which is precisely what happened, despite Tom Hanks’ warnings to the contrary a decade prior.

In a prime example of duorum injurias non recte, Selig decided that the winning league of the All-star game, beginning in 2003, would be awarded home-field advantage in the subsequent World Series. As I first chronicled a couple of months ago, the team possessing home-field advantage has won the World Series (now) 30 times since 1969, against 16 series losses. I admit, the alternating method employed prior to 2003 wasn’t perfect given the dominance of the home-field team, especially beginning with the so-called expansion era in 1969, but tying the reward to the performance at the All-star game is every bit as arbitrary.

For starters, employing fan voting for roster spots can, in some instances, detract from the quality of players starting the game and, in theory, the overall quality of the game. Some fans vote solely for players on their favorite team, some vote for the biggest names regardless of their play on the field during the first few months, and some stuff the ballot box by creating numerous email accounts and voting an obscene number of times for their favorite players despite said players’ lack of merit on the roster.

On the other hand, you’ve also got players competing in the game who know full well their team isn’t going to be making any surge for the postseason. And, frankly, I wonder how many players actually have it running through their mind that, “hey, I need to get a hit here because my team could potentially earn home-field advantage in the World Series” and not “hey, I need to get a hit here because that’ll make me look better than Clayton Freaking Kershaw.”

Simple solution: the team with the best record playing in the World Series is awarded home-field advantage. The easy way to circumvent the logistical problem with tickets, hotel room blocks for media, etc. is to ensure they’re available for all potential dates in advance. That means all teams still in the postseason (except, of course, for the one with the worst regular season record) can put tickets for games 1-7 on sale and refund fans when they go unused.

It’s really no different than what would happen for a team advancing to the LCS–and being logistically prepared to host at least two World Series games, should they be so fortunate–only to lose the championship series and cancel any ticket sales and reservations. You’re essentially just expanding the number of days on which the World Series could be contested in certain cities. Best of all, there’s a reward for the team which fared better during the regular season at a time when, as recent history shows, home-field advantage matters quite substantially.

—–

That feels like enough for now. Others came to mind as I was typing, but fortunately we’ve still got a couple of months until pitchers & catcher report.

MLB relocation, in map form

I started out by thinking it would be cool to take a look at how the “original” sixteen American and National League franchises were represented on a US map, and how those teams had relocated. But, to be perfectly honest, the result wasn’t all that thrilling. Only three teams in each league (SF, LA, and Atlanta in the NL; and Baltimore, Minnesota, and Oakland in the AL) played in different cities in 1903 than they will in 2016. With that in mind, that map only would have been marginally improved by using the format I chose for this newer one.

Each division has its own color on this one. I didn’t get too detailed–that is, in cities with only one franchise since 1901 (e.g. Denver, Phoenix, Miami, etc.), I didn’t get too specific with the pin’s location. For others–particularly New York and, surprisingly, Milwaukee and Washington, D.C.–I elected to place the city’s current franchise’s pin on its stadium, and leave the others at the city center so that, at least from a distance, there is the appearance of more than one club having played in said town.

And speaking of those three cities, while it is fairly common knowledge that New York has had like a bazillion (okay, four) baseball teams, you might be surprised to learn that Milwaukee and Washington have each been home to three big league clubs since 1901. The former hosted the original Brewers (now the Orioles) in 1901; followed by the Braves for thirteen seasons from ’53-’65; and the current iteration of the Brewers since 1970–a total of sixty seasons (with 1 title, in 1957) of big league ball.

Washington, meanwhile, hosted the original Senators (now the Twins) for sixty seasons alone, until 1960; then the expansion Senators (now the Rangers) for another 11 years immediately thereafter; and the Nationals (formerly the Expos) since 2005–82 seasons (and 0 championships) in all.

A few other things stand out to me:

  1. Montreal is the only metropolitan area that has been home to an AL or NL franchise since 1901 (27 in all, if you count Baltimore and Washington separately) that is currently without one.
  2. You’d think, since MLB has generally expanded westward over its history, that the respective east divisions would have the least amount of relocation activity (or, perhaps, as much as the central divisions). Instead, four of the ten AL and NL East teams have called other metro areas home, same as the AL and NL West; only two have done likewise in the AL and NL Central.
  3. The Giants’ move from Upper Manhattan to San Francisco is the longest distance any team has traveled in relocating since 1901; the A’s hop-skip-and-jump from Philly to KC to Oakland is about 40 miles shorter.
  4. The shortest distance in the approximately 180 miles the original (at least to the AL) Baltimore Orioles traveled to New York to become the Highlanders (now Yankees).
  5. Downtown Cincinnati is directly between St. Louis and Baltimore, as the crow flies.