A few notes before we start. First, regardless of their credentials, five men trying to outshout each other in fifteen second increments does not a good argument make. Second, as rabid as Redskins fans may be, anyone (and The Rock means anyone) who claims that D.C. is more football crazy than Columbus, Ann Arbor, or Oakland needs to have their head examined. Third, the reason folks say that D.C. shuts down during the summer is not because people are on vacation, but because it's just as hot as Atlanta but it's built on a swamp. Finally, if the Montreal Expos move to Washington, D.C., they will not be known as the Expos. Let's begin, shall we?

Major League Baseball has suggested several sites for the Expos' relocation, and somehow Washington, D.C. has become the favorite. This isn't exactly surprising, given that some of the other cities given serious consideration were San Juan, Puerto Rico and Monterrey, Mexico. What's unfortunate is that the Players' Association (the MLBPA) wields so much power that MLB can't do what's best for baseball, which is to get rid of the team altogether.

With due respect to the enthusiastic individual above, there exists no evidence that Washington, D.C. has any business hosting a Major League Baseball team. Ignoring the eight teams that called D.C. home prior to the turn of the 20th century, two teams have played in D.C., and both have moved on because no one cared. The "original" Washington Senators played in D.C. from 1901 to 1960. In those sixty years, they finished last or second to last in attendance 34 times, and finished in the top half of the league in attendance a grand total of eight times. Then they moved to Minnesota to start the 1961 season.

Using their characteristic lack of vision, baseball awarded Washington an expansion franchise that exact same year. That's right, the Senators played in D.C. in 1960, and the Senators played in D.C. in 1961, and they were completely different franchises! They stuck around until 1971, and managed to finish in the top half of the league attendance-wise once, due in no small part to Ted Williams taking over the managerial job in 1969. Why MLB gave Washington a second chance isn't exactly clear... perhaps it just seemed right to have a baseball team in our nation's capital.

Having a failed major league franchise doesn't necessarily exclude a metropolitan area from getting another franchise. The Seattle Pilots were a miserable franchise and yet Seattle was later awarded the Mariners, and Milwaukee went through the Braves before getting the Brewers. The problem is figuring out whether or not an area can really support a franchise, which is harder to do than just taking some polls and adding some numbers.

The Devil Rays example mentioned above is an exceptional example. Major League Baseball did extensive research before awarding the Bay area a team. They looked at all kinds of demographics, feasability studies, local interest in baseball, and so on and so forth. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays played their first game on March 31, 1998, and in six plus seasons, do you know how many times they've sold out their home stadium? I'll give you a hint: it's greater than zero, and less than two. That's right... the Devil Rays sold out the franchise's first ever game, and in game number two they drew 15,000 less than the day before. This is a team that's barely drawn one million fans in each of the last two years. The lesson is to be very careful before setting up shop, because the Devil Rays have zero chance to compete.

Proponents of D.C. give a number of arguments, the most popular being the population density and the importance of their location on a global scale. They also point to Northern Virginia as a good location for a stadium, because putting it southwest of the Beltway solves various traffic and political issues, and also locates it further away from the lawsuit-loving Peter Angelos and his Baltimore Orioles. They also claim that fans will welcome this team with open arms, even though Jose Vidro is the only marketable player the team will have next year, and Puerto Rican gap-hitting second basemen aren't exactly the most marketable of big league stars.

Sadly, baseball doesn't have much choice. Portland, Oregon was floated as a possibility, but there isn't enough interest in the region for a baseball team, and certainly not a large enough television market. Las Vegas was another option, with its staggering 4% annual population growth and the general wealth in the area. But pro leagues are paranoid of the sports books in the city, and Vegas doesn't exactly have the best track record when it comes to successful franchises (if you're bored, ask Roninspoon to make a list for you). Ten or fifteen years from now? Sure. But not now.

This is not to say that D.C. wouldn't support their new team better than the Expos or the Devil Rays or the Florida Marlins (way to support your World Series champs, you bunch of front-running, bandwagon-jumping imbeciles). But the truth is that there really isn't enough interest in baseball to support 30 teams. Even the most viable places to move a franchise to, which are suprisingly Chicago, New York, and Boston, have existing teams that would fend their turf much more vigorously than Angelos. So baseball is coming back to Washington, D.C. Just don't expect it to be an overwhelming success.