Would Baseball work in Las Vegas?

There’s a reason they call it Sin City

I have made 4 trips to the city that never sleeps. I have been there twice since turning 21, most recently this past summer. While Las Vegas is a magical and mystical adventure at times, it is not a place for professional sports on the short-term or long-term.

Recently Vegas played host to the 2007 NBA All-Star game. While the weekend boiled down to nothing more than an audition for being the future home of a professional franchise, it sparked the debate for many AM Sports talk radio hosts to decide if Vegas would be a good fit or not. I will go a step further as to debate whether it would be a could place to move or launch a Major League Baseball Franchise.

Everyone knows what ‘Lost Wages’ offers in the form of entertainment. It’s probably the entertainment capital of the world. Thrills ranging from the cheap and quick to the expensive and steep, you can find nearly anything you want in this city, and I do mean anything for those of you reading this that have never been. That said, I reccomend going once, for the ideal time of about 4 days and 5 nights, preferably during the week so you can get the cheap Blackjack games, hotel room, and bargain buffets. You stay any longer than that in Vegas, and you really do Vegas like you should–you will be feeling like you have been living in some kind of fantasy land and your perception of reality will be shot to hell.

Due to the constant influx and exportation of tourists from around the world, some might say it would help attendance at a Major League ballgame 81 times a year. While attendance figures might be great, the quality of the crowd would suffer. Sure there are plenty of individuals that reside in Vegas and make it a home regularly; 545,000 as of 2005 census to be exact; but would a certain percentage of these people be willing to commit to full season and half season ticket packages? Would the fact that there are constantly higher percentages of people more interested in the out of town scoreboard hurt the overall fan base? I believe so.

This brings me to my next point, in which Columbus 1460 AM radio talk host Chris Speilman first said days following the NBA All-Star game. Would a dark presence lurk over the franchise that called Vegas a home? I look at it this way: when I meet someone in the Casino that tells me they live in Vegas, and that they spend several nights a week on the strip, I get a bad feeling inside me. I start to think about if it was me. Now, while many residents probably don’t venture out till the sun comes up to explore the evils of a gambling table or whatever else they want to find like my friends and I do while in Vegas, certainly in the back of the mind that possibility is always there if you want it. I think of it the same way for a Major League Franchise. Would every ballplayer abuse the fact that they play in Las Vegas, not at all. Would there be some that couldn’t handle it? Absolutely. It’s very simple actually. You mix in just one Pete Rose type personality on a current ball club, add the fact that they’re living/playing in Vegas a few nights a week on regular, and you’ve got one hell of a problem on your hands. Mix in several Pete Rose type personalities, and you’re completely skull-fucked as a franchise.

I met Pete Rose at Caesar’s Palace. He was checking scores for his bets on his phone.

The dark influence that Spielman spoke about is very real. Spielman said he’d been to vegas four times, and that he felt that influence each time he was there. Suddenly a light came on inside of my head, because I knew exactly what he was talking about. Everyone should experience Vegas at least once, so they can know what I am referring to. In all probability, unless you just venture to the strip to see a few shows, you’ll know what I am talking about within about 24 hours of being in that city. I know it caused me and my addictive personality to get about 15 hours of sleep in 5 days, get drunk all day and night, and gamble until I felt guilty about looking into a mirror. Once again, I am not suggesting that all ballplayers or even many would exhibit this type of behavior while being in that city; but certainly there are some that would. Ballplayers operate on an addiction anyways, whether they realize it or not, I know because I was one. This addiction in the right atmosphere is extremely healthy. It is an addiction to physical health and preparation. When I was at college that addiction and routine was centered around working out several times in a day usually. When I was in Vegas it suddenly became a skewed focus that centered around betting Red on a Roulette wheel because it had been black 6 times previous. The addiction–the routine, if you will, also led me to believe pocket Jacks were invincible in limit Hold ’em. Even when other players stayed with my max bet, the addiction led me to bet it out to see I was beaten even though I knew I was beaten. You get the point, hopefully.

When talking about ‘dark influences’ in that city one must remember that there is some organized crime that still exists. As much as it is not talked about, and as much as Vegas authorities will turn their heads to it, absolutely there is no doubt in my mind that it’s still out there. These dark influences come in the form of bookies and betting men, and it would take just one time of them reaching a ballplayer and ‘making sense’ of tanking just one at-bat or one ground ball late in a game to make my point justified. Believe me, they have the money to have it make sense to everyone involved, and it would happen. There is a ton of money to be made on something that could change the outcome on a ballgame, much more than they’d have to shell out to get the ballplayer to throw the game anyways. Even if it never happened even once, the fact that ballplayers would have to deal with these kinds of temptations on a more regular basis makes the thought of having a team in this city regularly wrong from the onset doesn’t it?

I’m not saying Baseball wouldn’t financially profit in Vegas. I have to think it would be one of the healthier fiscal organizations in the league. Clearly the health of a franchise goes beyond dollars and cents to the common fan like us here at Diamond Hoggers. The mental health of this ballclub would probably not be very sound. I would predict a team that after conception, would be .500 for most of it’s existence. Do I have anything in cold-hard numbers to back that up? Absolutely not. It’s a feel thing. The
kind of feel you get from playing the game, being inside a clubhouse and knowing how important focus is in baseball to a team’s success rate. It’s a sure-fire correlation, and trust me on this–the focus of the Las Vegas Gamblers would be sub-par at best on many nights.