The NHL has decided to expand to Las Vegas, and it appears MLB might follow suit, as commissioner Rob Manfred last week called Sin City a “viable” option going forward. There is, however, one key difference between the NHL and MLB potentially bringing teams to Vegas. The NHL plays games indoors and on ice. MLB would be playing game outdoors and in the desert. In the summer. Plus, you have to wonder about how the players would hold up during those three- and four-game weekend series.
“I worry about losing about nine percent of Major League players in Las Vegas,” legendary MLB analyst Peter Gammons joked on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “I can’t wait to see what happens with the National Hockey League in Las Vegas. I’m skeptical. I’m skeptical about the growth of the area, the long-term demographics. I’m not a huge expansion fan. I fought back originally when they started the expansion in the early ’90s that it was a huge mistake. What it did was, it took away markets that would allow teams to be able to threaten communities and extort them for ballparks, and I think that they’ve essentially driven the prices of players up so much because they added four teams that immediately had to come in and spend money and drive the prices both in the free-agent market and also in the amateur market.”
While Vegas is still hoping and waiting for an MLB team, Texas is not. The Astros (39-37) were expected by many to win the AL West this year, but it’s the Rangers (49-27) who have run away with the division. They led the AL West by 10 games, are tied with the Giants (49-28) for the most wins in baseball, and are 27-8 over their last 35 games.
“They’re really good,” Gammons said. “Their young talent with (Rougned) Odor and (Nomar) Mazara, the energy that those guys have brought that team – Mazara is one of the best young players in the game. Their pitching really hasn’t been that good yet. They’ve had a lot of injuries in the starting staff, (Yu) Darvish is still not quite there – I think they’re really going to be dangerous in November. I think right now if you look at the American League, you say it’s Cleveland, who’s the favorite. I think they’re the best team in the league because they have the best starting pitching maybe in baseball, and Texas. In the National League I’d say it’s the Giants and Cubs.
“But the Rangers can get a lot better here as they go along,” Gammons continued. “Their farm system is so good, they can turn around and make a deal or two eventually to get more pithing help. It’s really important to get Darvish off the disabled list. They’re really good they’ve changed their personality from a slugging team to a really great line-drive team. It’s really fun to watch.”