As one would expect, Albert Pujols didn’t immediately have much to say about whether Friday’s Game 7 victory was his last game as a Cardinal:
You know what? I’m not even thinking about that. I’m thinking about, you know, we’re the world champions and I’m going to celebrate and whenever that time comes, you know, then we’ll deal with it. But right now, you know, I enjoy this. You never know when it’s going to be your last one so I’m going to enjoy this one like the same way that I did my first one. So thank you to all the fans for the support.
Pujols had a decidedly odd World Series. Apart from his five-hit, three-homer outburst in Game 3, he went 1-for-19 with no RBI. He did walk six times, though. In Game 7, he came around to score after both a walk and a HBP.
Pujols, of course, is a free agent for the first time this winter, and he could be in line for the third $200 million contract (and first not signed by Alex Rodriguez) in baseball history. The Rangers, Cubs, Nationals and Angels are a few of the teams that may weigh putting in a bid for the three-time NL MVP.
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.”