Former Orlando Magic executive Pat Williams is making an announcement right now about a possible new MLB team for Orlando, and I’m liveblogging it like it’s 2008! (Which is to say, writing down notes as it goes and then posting it all afterwards.)
“The next logical step is to try and become a Major League Baseball city!”
“We need a mascot! But that’s not pertinent right now. What is pertinent is finding out how badly this community wants to do this.”
“I saw a news report that Major League Baseball was considering expanding at some point to 32 teams. And then Major League Baseball announced the six markets they would be considering: Montreal, Portland, Vancouver, Nashville, Las Vegas, and Charlotte. And when I read that, my competitive blood rose, and kept rising.”
“Orlando, Florida, the 18th largest media market in the country!”
“We have a nickname. And we’re going to tell you about it. When I say Walt Disney, what comes to mind? What I say Arnold Palmer. When I say astronaut John Young. … They were all dreamers!”
“So ladies and gentlemen, may I inform you that we will be the Orlando Dreamers baseball team.”
Way too much to unpack here, starting with why Pat Williams thinks that name-checking Arnold Palmer is going to resonate with sports fans of today. (Not to go all generational politics on you, because generational politics is the opiate of the masses, but it should not escape notice that Pat Williams is 79 years old.) Mostly the takeaway should be that now that MLB has hinted that maybe someday possibly it might admit more expansion teams, every would-be team owner is jockeying to get in line; and now that the Nashville Stars have shown that you can get attention just by announcing a team name, everybody else is going to try that as well. I look forward to the flood of terrible team names that will surely result, plus the flood of terrible stadium renderings, though not so much to the public-money bidding war that MLB is almost certain to launch in order to determine which teams make the cut, once the Oakland A’s and Tampa Bay Rays stadium situations are resolved and there’s an actual cut to make.
And speaking of the Rays, surely Williams doesn’t think Orlando could get an expansion team even if the Rays are still in Tampa Bay? Someone at the press conference just asked, and Williams replied:
“At this point, all I can tell you is this. The Rays have eight years left on a lease. They have said that they are exploring this radical plan to play in two cities. … Can it happen? Well, they’re going to see if it can happen. In the meantime, our job with any potential owner is to make this package here so attractive, and so — how about this word — luscious, that people say, ‘We gotta get there.’ … I’m dreaming a little bit, guys. So that’s my answer there, Mike.”
So you are, Pat. Just like Arnold Palmer would have wanted.
UPDATE: This is what the @OrlandoDreamers Twitter just tweeted to show off the new logo and hat. Their social media director may also be 79 years old:
— Orlando Dreamers (@OrlandoDreamers) November 20, 2019