If you thought the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim was a wordy title for a team, buckle up. Are the Montreal-Tampa Bay Rays something that is going to be happening in the not too distant future? Major League Baseball seems to have taken a significant step towards that on Thursday afternoon when they announced Tampa Bay has received permission to explore a plan that would see them play have of their regular season games up north.

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The MLB Executive Council confirmed it is at least open to the idea of a split/home schedule between Florida, and Canada.

This would essentially mean the Montreal Expos were back in business, though it seems unlikely the Rays would be looking to officially change their mascot. It is possible that if the plan becomes something that is more than a one season lark, the franchise would have to consider some kind of hyphenated title.

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The early stages

The most important thing to realize is the plan to split home games for the Rays is not going to happen this season. You might remember that when the Montreal Expos were folding up shop, they very hastily came up with a plan to play half of their final season's games in Puerto Rico. That was an apparent dipping of a toe in the water to see if something like that could work. It was also meant to see what the interest was in the Latin American community for a full-time professional baseball team.

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MLB has never really followed up on that experiment.

Could this be a more complex way of seeing if Montreal is ready for baseball again? The plan is in the very early stages, but it would seem as if that would be one of the end games for this endeavor. Supposedly, the team would get two new stadiums, a move that would have to give voters in both cities pause. Are taxpayers going to want to front the money for the construction of stadiums where a team is only playing - at most - 81 games?

The plan, according to those close to the Tampa Bay Rays front office, is to play the early part of the season in Florida, then head over to Montreal in the middle and late stages of the year.

Saving baseball in the sunshine state?

One of the most interesting aspects of this potential move is how the goals of the two cities involved would be polar opposites. Rays' owner Stuart Sternberg has said that he fully intends to keep baseball in Tampa Bay.

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In fact, he's pointed to this plan as one of the only ways that could actually happen.

Meanwhile, Montreal bigwig Mitch Garber has been working hard since 2005, when the Expos departed and became the Washington Nationals, to get a team back to the Canadian metropolis. Should this plan go through and the team splits time between two countries, on the very opposite sides of North America, it would be interesting to see how the two cities co-exist or whether a power struggle could emerge when talking about going back to a permanent home.

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