As I've previously stated, baseball season officially starts for me when the first baseball previews are released. Well, I was flipping threw my spanking new copy of The Sporting News' baseball preview when I noticed something rather peculiar. Ryan Howard and Nate McLouth were on the cover of my Preview.
It seems the Sporting News made 16 different covers for every region in North America. The Wal Mart in Athens, Ohio for some reason received the "East" edition of the Preview when it clearly should have received the Mideast edition with Cliff Lee and Edinson Volquez. Anyway, I was looking at the all the covers on the inside jacket of the magazine and saw that almost every single edition had two teams gracing the cover, yet their were a few markets that featured one team.
Like most things regarding baseball, that got me thinking. What are the teams in Major League Baseball that don't have to worry about another team cannibalizing their fanbase. Peter Angelos threw a fit when the Expos relocated to Washington D.C and I can understand why. That Baltimore/D.C area belonged to the Orioles. There was no other team in the area to take attention and money away from them. So what teams in baseball are currently like the pre-Nationals Orioles? Who has the most dominance over their region..."Regional Dominance" if you will.
Here is a list of the regional covers for The Sporting News baseball preview.
SPORTING NEWS BASEBALL REGIONAL COVERS:
Region 1 - New England: Red Sox (Dustin Pedroia & Jacoby Ellsbury)
Region 2 - Canada: Blue Jays (Roy Halladay)
Region 3 - Northeast: Yankees (Alex Rodriguez), Mets (David Wright)
Region 4 - East: Phillies (Ryan Howard), Pirates (Nate McLouth)
Region 5 - Atlantic: Orioles (Aubrey Huff), Nationals (Christian Guzman)
Region 6 - South: Braves (Chipper Jones)
Region 7 - Florida: Rays (Evan Longoria), Marlins (Dan Uggla)
Region 8 - Mideast: Indians (Cliff Lee), Reds (Edinson Volquez)
Region 9 - Midwest: Cubs (Carlos Zambrano), Brewers (Ryan Braun)
Region 10 - North: Tigers (Miguel Cabrera), Twins (Joe Mauer)
Region 11 - Missouri Valley: Cardinals (Albert Pujols), Royals (Zack Greinke)
Region 12 - Midlands: Rockies (Garrett Atkins)
Region 13 - Southwest: Rangers (Josh Hamilton), Astros (Miguel Tejada)
Region 14 - West: Diamondbacks (Dan Haren), Padres (Adrian Gonzalez)
Region 15 - Los Angeles: Angels (Joe Saunders & Ervin Santana), Dodgers (Andre Ethier)
Region 16 - Northwest: Giants (Tim Lincecum), Mariners (Ichiro Suzuki)
I'll have you notice that neither the White Sox nor the Athletics are featured on this list. So I am going to make a few revisions to include all the teams. The White Sox are going to slide into the Midwest region, leaving us with a three-team. The A's are going to the Northwest region which I am renaming to the "Bay Area." Seattle gets to stay in the Northwest all by its lonesome. After all, Seattle is more than a twelve hour drive from Oakland, its closest Major-League city.
So with those revisions in mind, here are the 5 teams that I believe have the least competition for Regional Dominance
5. Colorado Rockies
Who would have figured? The Rockies don't have the largest fan-base in the world, or the best. But there is no one else out there competing for the Rockies' attention. Kansas City is the closest at about 8 hours away. The Rocky Mountains aren't really an environment conducive to good baseball or baseball fans, but tell me: if you are a fan in Colorado/Idaho/Nevada/Wyoming/Utah, who else are you rooting for?
4. Toronto Blue Jays
Now that the Expos are gone (to the Orioles' detriment), the Blue Jays really have no one to worry about...aside from the Maple Leafs of course. Toronto is a hockey-town and always will be. But as long as there are American transplants working in Canada who want to see baseball, the Blue Jays will sell tickets. Lame Toronto sports fans might prefer to root for the Yankees or the Red Sox, but for any Canadian baseball fan that believes in pride in country, the Blue Jays are now the absolute only team to root for.
3. Seattle Mariners
As I've previously stated, the closest team to Seattle is more than 12 hours away. Seattle is now a culture all to itself. There are no other metropolises knocking on the door drawing Mariners' fans away. The only thing that is turning fans away is the team, itself.
2. Boston Red Sox
For starters, the Red Sox have nothing to worry about because they have the largest bandwagon fanbase in the United States. I know people from Cleveland to Phoenix who root for the Red Sox because they are "just like totally cool, bro." But as far as ACTUAL Red Sox fans who ACTUALLY live in New England go....there is not much competition. Sure, there are a few weirdos in Connecticut who insist on rooting for the Yankees but every other inch of New England is officially Red Sox nation. That is 6.5 states, very, very rich states who support the Boston Red Sox.
1. Atlanta Braves
Ladies and gentleman, I present to you: THE JEWEL OF THE SOUTH. Every Confederate state of the South (I am sorry, Southerners, I couldn't resist) calls him or herself a Braves fan. And just think of the impact of that. The American South is one of the biggest baseball factories on the planet. SEC baseball is the only collegiate baseball that draws any fanfare in the country and all the old-timers in the South still loves them some baseball. Now tell me how it is fair that that entire region, which is so baseball centric, only has one team. The Atlanta Braves are not just Georgia's team: they are Alabama's team and South Carolina's team and North Carolina's team and Tennessee's team and Mississippi's team and Arkansas's team and maybe even parts of Kentucky's team.
Of course, there is one other little bit of business to attend to this week before we're done.
Los Angeles signs OF Manny Ramirez to 2 year, $45 million deal
Scott Boras lost. Enough said.
Oh, and if you don't believe me that the WBC matters, then take Tom Verducci's word for it.