The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is
running the second part of an interview with Chipper Jones. It’s not
quite as lengthy as the previous interview, but here’s a couple quick highlights:
- Despite his comments in the past
(“I’ll believe it when I see it.”), Jones believes Bobby Cox is “for
real” about stepping down as manager after 2010. Cox will still have an
imprint on the team as he will move into a consulting role, but Jones acknowledges that “it’s going to be culture shock” if
he decides to play in 2011, especially if the Braves hire someone he
has “played with or against.”
- Jones is proud of the fact that he
is the “last one standing” among the great 90s teams, and like Cal
Ripken and Tony Gwynn, has played his entire career in one city.
- Jones would be “OK with it” if his
career ended today, but the only thing that keeps him going is trying
to reclaim the National League East and go back to the World Series.
He’s encouraged with the direction of the team, especially
pitching-wise but notes that “we just need to get a little offense and
defense to go along with it.”
As David O’Brien notes at the end of
the piece, this interview was conducted two days before the Braves
traded Javier Vazquez for Melky Cabrera and a pair of prospects. Frank
Wren has taken some heat for the move, but in doing so, the Braves
added around $9 million in payroll flexibility. Wren has already Troy
Glaus to the lineup, and there are plenty of indications that he isn’t done.
On Monday, Baseball America reported that MLB is prepared to expand to Portland and Montreal. We talked about that at length yesterday. One of the most common responses to that piece has been “Portland? Really?”
There’s good reason for that response. Baseball-to-Portland has been talked about for years, but there has never been any real traction. Past initiatives have failed, significant public funding for a stadium seems to be a political impossibility and, heck, Portland wasn’t even interested in keeping its Triple-A team, turning its stadium into a much more successful soccer venue and not missing the Beavers all that much.
It would seem, however, that the reports are not mere speculation and there is a genuine baseball-to-Portland initiative afoot once again. From the Oregonian:
On Tuesday, former Trail Blazers broadcaster Mike Barrett confirmed to The Oregonian/OregonLive that he is part of the Portland group.
“I am officially involved with a campaign to bring Major League Baseball and a stadium development to Portland,” Barrett said. “There is also a formally organized, sophisticated and seasoned management group running this initiative. We will keep you fully apprised of any/all developments as this project progresses.”
One guy — a broadcaster no less — saying he’s part of a group is not exactly a major needle-mover, of course. But it does contrast with past Portland initiatives that have been well-publicized grassroots affairs. While those may have been more broad-based and while their public nature may have provided some refreshing transparency, the simple fact of professional sports ownership in the 21st century is that well-monied groups who play things close to the vest are more likely to make waves. We’re in an age when technocratic hedge fund-type guys make things happen in this arena, not in an age when flamboyant public personalities do.
None of which is to say that baseball in Portland is a lock or that expansion anywhere is a short term proposition. It’s just to note that, yeah, there is a bit more going on, it seems, than just pointing at a map and saying “yeah, a team would make sense here.”