Should there be baseball in New Jersey?

David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

The Garden State has a small piece of baseball history, but it's never had a franchise of its own. Could it work?

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It's an uncomfortable position to be in, agreeing with Scott Boras. One minute he's handing you a handsomely constructed binder full of what appears to be compelling information -- ooh, and graphs! -- and you're nodding in agreement, and next thing you know you have agreed to pay Oliver Perez $36 million over three years.

People lose money and jobs agreeing with Scott Boras. Even Scott Boras almost certainly does not really agree with Scott Boras much more than maybe a third of the time. And yet it needs to be said: I agree with Scott Boras that New Jersey is ready for its own Major League Baseball team.

It is worth noting there are some reasons why this would be difficult. Major League Baseball's antitrust exemption grants teams territorial rights, and New Jersey is squarely within the territory of both the New York Yankees and New York Mets. (There is a part of New Jersey that cheers for the Phillies, but we generally don't talk about that. It's uncouth. Just drop it.) But surely a suitably motivated owner could deal with that. And let's leave aside, as well, the question of where the New Jersey team -- it would be named either the New Jersey Fried Hot Dogs or the New Jersey Intricate Simultaneous Inferiority/Superiority Complexes, or "Plex" for short -- would find its fans, given how many people in the state already have a strong baseball allegiance. These are small things. We do not have time for these trifling concerns. We are talking about baseball, now.

Also I suppose there's the question of space, which is a significant one insofar as the Fried Hot Dogs/Plex would likely want to play in the surpassingly dense and expensive northeast corner of the state, which is blanketed by mini-, mega-, Mc- and other types of mansions. There is not much room in this dense burbscape for a new stadium, unless you're willing to go for an eminent domain gambit that replaces the entire town of Nutley with Bob's Discount Furniture Park at Bon Jovi Yards and the associated parking. But this is another small thing, really.

What's important, what matters, is that Jersey is ready. It is densely populated and comparatively affluent, although a disproportionate amount of the region's discretionary income is spent on garish decorative sculpture -- e.g. twin marble lions positioned at the foot of the driveway -- and so probably unavailable for season tickets at present. But we care about baseball, and the Yankees and Mets have each given fans plenty of reasons -- moral/ethical and baseball-related, respectively -- to look for a better option. Boras' plan involves the Tampa Bay Rays moving north, which would certainly be nice, but even an expansion team would do.

Newark has, after all, done it before. The Eureka Baseball Club was playing there in 1860, when the outbreak of the Civil War interrupted the season. Later, there was a long, distinguished history of Negro League baseball in Newark -- there were an astonishing five future Hall of Famers on the 1946 Newark Eagles roster, including Larry Doby and Monte Irvin. But even seeing the briefly bankrupt Newark Bears restored to past Atlantic League glory would be enough.

The outfield at Bears and Eagles Riverfront Stadium has been patrolled -- or, anyway, used as an outdoor location for a failed VH1 reality show -- by both Canseco brothers. Carl Everett and Elijah Dukes played there, and somehow did so simultaneously. Tim Raines Jr. and Eric Munson and Pete Rose Jr. and franchise icon/yam-shaped slugger Daryle Ward; Lance Johnson and utility-grade Lance Johnson impersonator Nook Logan; Armando Benitez and Keith Foulke in the same damn bullpen (this was 2009, admittedly). New Jersey has seen big-time baseball in the recent past. Hundreds and sometimes thousands of New Jersey residents paid to see it, and mostly enjoyed the experience. Many of the aforementioned players are good enough to play for several National League teams right now. That 2009 Bears roster could probably take two of three against the Marlins if they didn't have to face Jose Fernandez.

Of course, it won't happen. The Mets and Yankees would not allow it and Newark might not be able to support it -- things have improved notably in recent years, but much of Brick City still looks like an exterior from Robocop. Boras' point in bringing up Jersey as a big-league venue, to the extent he had one, was that fans ought to appreciate -- by which he means pay to see -- a team that wins. This is true enough, but (shockingly) more complicated than Scott Boras makes it seem.

And so New Jersey will likely have to wait for its big league franchise. Should that moment come, though, we're ready. The stadium is there, the spirit is there, the logistics for providing fried hot dogs on a MLB scale can be handled by Rutt's Hut of Clifton with ease, and Daryle Ward is just a phone-call away. You'll notice I didn't mention parking.

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