Some of the Home Run Derby participants named

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The names of some of the participants in this year’s Home Run Derby — the ones who have confirmed already — were just announced. According to Tyler Kepner: David Ortiz, Corey Hart, Robinson Cano, Vernon
Wells, Matt Holliday, Miguel Cabrera will all be doing the back back back back back thing for the amusement of Chris Berman.

No Omar Infante? Maybe he’s just making everyone wait.

Like I said the other day: I’m with Tony La Russa. The Home Run Derby is a flaccid little made-for-TV spectacle. I’m not sure if what people say is true about it messing up guys’ swings, but I can’t see how it can help.

Anyway, that’s not exactly a murderers row of power (if anyone had Vernon Wells in their Home Run Derby pool before the season started, please step to the front of the room), but then again no one expected Josh Hamilton to go crazy in the thing a couple of years ago.

There is, indeed, an MLB-to-Portland group

Associated Press
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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.”