There is a question though of whether the move West has benefitted everyone, and whether or not California is too saturated. Now I'm not seriously suggesting that some of these teams should come back East, I'm simply saying let's ponder it for a minute- should the Oakland A's return to Philadelphia? Would they be financially better off? Obviously it won't even be considered, and as you'll see later it probably shouldn't be, but the argument isn't completely crazy.
From 1901 until 1954, the Philadelphia Athletics played their games at Shibe Park in North Philadelphia, the same ballpark as the Phillies. They won five World Series there, before moving to Kansas City and taking over a minor league ballpark that had been the Yankees affiliate. They stayed there until 1968, doing nothing of note in that time, and apparently not being financially viable either. They left Kansas City and went to Oakland at that point, moving into the Oakland Coliseum, where they still play today, 46 seasons later. They've had some great teams in Oakland, including Reggie Jackson's teams in the 1970s, the Canseco-McGwire "Bash Brothers" under Tony LaRussa in the late 80s and early 90s, and the Billy Beane "Moneyball" era that has made them annual contenders the late 90s, but never a champion.
The A's, in their post Philadelphia time, have never been a real money-maker. In fact, despite being in one of the largest markets in the United States, the Oakland A's are a "small market" team. They've had to trade and let go several major talents over their existence, from Reggie Jackson to Mark McGwire, from Jason Giambi to Miguel Tejada. They now are trying to nail down a finalized stadium deal to get out of the Coliseum, the last "shared" venue with a football team in the country. The truth is, the stadium situation is an absolute mess. The team continues to run on shoe-string, they don't have a ballpark to call their own, and they lose talent all the time. They may end up moving to the south-end of the Bay in San Jose, though at this point that option has lost some steam.
So, I've been thinking a lot- why not return to Philadelphia? The team averaged a World Series crown about once every ten years in the City of Brotherly Love. The Phillies just signed an enormous television deal with Comcast that will make them one of the richest teams in the sport for a long time, so there is clearly a market for baseball. If the TV deal doesn't prove it, the Phillies recent sell-out streak should. People in the Philadelphia area love the sport, and would welcome another team for certain- as is evidenced by the thriving minor league parks within 90 minutes of Philadelphia that were filled even as Citizens Bank Park was. Oh, and if there's no will to build them a stadium in the city, and they don't want to share the Bank, I'm sure a certain state across the Delaware River would love to build a big league park in Camden. It absolutely could work, and if the A's live up to their long-standing record of developing a team through their system, they could certainly compete with the Phillies for the fan-base. Please don't tell me we can't add teams in the same market- the Nationals and Orioles are doing just fine, thanks.
Since I've just demonstrated that Philadelphia could absolutely welcome back the A's and make it work, now let me dump some cold water on that whole scheme. First off, the Phillies and A's marriage in Philadelphia was in a totally different time, when the teams shared a ballpark, and that is not going to happen today. This would mean financing a separate ballpark somewhere. Good luck with that. Sure, Jersey has helped the Devils build an arena recently, and did open their doors to the Sixers moving practice over there- but that's talking about practice. Here we're talking about the game, and that would be difficult to get publicly financed, which would be a must to even discuss this.
Second, and more importantly, is that it didn't work that great the first time. While sharing the city with the A's, the Phillies won exactly two National League pennants (1915 and 1950), and no World Series over their first 71 years in existence (including the years before the A's arrival). That second NL title was part of an era in which the Phillies essentially ran the A's out of town by building a good team, and watching the A's struggle for revenue to survive on until they had to leave. At no point were both teams good at once, and the A's really didn't make much money while they were in Philly either. The A's left town broke and having been bad for years. There is no point where both were both good and big money-makers, so how have things changed?
If those things don't convince you it can't happen, just consider the re-alignment it would necessitate. It won't happen.
Maybe it should though. Big markets like Philadelphia essentially finance the existence of small-markets. The Dodgers and Yankees literally pay a tax check to the league that gets handed out to the small-market teams. Maybe instead of financing cities that are failing, it would be better to give Philadelphia back her other team.
It's nothing more than a provocative thought to ponder as a Philadelphia baseball fan, and laugh about the what-if's. I personally would love to see a second team back in Philadelphia, if for no other reason than the rivalry. Obviously we're not getting our A's back, but you do have to wonder if baseball should look to future expansion in successful markets, rather than creating more small market teams.