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Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred talks expansion, which could help Rays

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Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred suggested the possibility of expansion Tuesday, which might help the politicians of St. Petersburg and Tampa hold onto the Tampa Bay Rays.

If baseball were to expand for the first time since 1998, it would  take two of the better cities out of any possible competition for the Rays.

Of course, if you are a suspicious sort, you might wonder if this was simply a way for the authorities of baseball to look more closely at other cities in preparation of a move.

Speaking before the All-Star game, Manfred told reporters that Major League Baseball has compiled a list of cities that might be possible expansion sites. However, he still mentioned the possibility of existing franchises moving.

“Maybe one of the reasons I got this job is I’m bullish on this game,” Manfred told reporters. “I think we are a growth business, broadly defined. And over an extended period of time, growth businesses look to get bigger. So yeah, I’m open to the idea that there will be a point in time where expansion may be possible.”

Manfred said MLB remains hopeful that the stadium situations in Tampa Bay and Oakland will work out.

“We have an issue in Tampa,” Manfred said. “They put a great product on the field. The attendance is not what we would like to see, and we believe it is facility related. It’s that simple. I find it encouraging that it seems that politicians in the area are interested in getting something done and keeping the Rays in St. Petersburg-Tampa, or Tampa-St. Petersburg or whatever you want to say.

“We will not get to the point of exploring relocation until Mr. (Stu) Sternberg and I reach the conclusion that it’s not possible to get something done in the market where it exists now. We are not at that stage.”

Among the possible cities for expansion are Montreal, Charlotte, San Antonio, Portland, Las Vegas, Oklahoma City and Mexico City.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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