And That Happened: NLCS Edition

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Phillies 4, Giants 2: The Giants had a shot here, and no matter what Tim Lincecum said after the game about not making good pitches in the third inning — which he didn’t — Aubrey Huff and Pablo Sandoval’s defense was the real killer here. A pitcher shouldn’t have to be perfect. He should get picked up from time to time by the guys behind him, and that’s just not possible with the dudes in the Giants’ infield. Not that this game was over in the third inning. Kudos to Roy Halladay for fighting through an injury and gutting one out, and kudos to the Phillies bullpen for being on point. Not once in the final three innings did it feel like San Francisco had much of a chance to do anything.

Now back to Philly, which has to be deflating for the Giants. Are they still favored? They probably have to be because winning one of two is still an easier trick than winning two of two. But in losing at home with their ace on the hill on a night when one of the Phils’ big three wasn’t as sharp as he could have been was absolutely their best shot to close this series out. And quite frankly, the Giants blew it.

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.”