Report: Mets won’t receive additional “substantial” financial assistance from MLB

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We learned earlier today that the Mets are currently seeking another loan to cover operating expenses. Well, according to David Waldstein of the New York Times, they won’t be able to look to Major League Baseball to stay afloat for the long-term.

The league already extended a $25 million loan to the Mets in November, but Waldstein reports that they won’t make another significant loan to the club.

The two people briefed on the situation said baseball could conceivably re-evaluate its position in the coming months if it thought it needed to protect its larger interests, like trying to avoid a fire sale of one of its elite clubs. In addition, with opening day a month away, baseball could make a modest short-term loan to help the Mets avoid defaulting on certain payments, like player salaries. But it would not be enough to rescue the Mets’ owners in any long-term sense, the people suggested.

“It’s tapped out,” one of the people briefed on the situation said, referring to the availability of more money.

The Mets may end up borrowing against the value of the team in an effort to run out the clock on a potential sale, but I can’t help but feel the Wilpons and Saul Katz are headed down the same road as Tom Hicks from 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.”