Manny Ramirez worked out for the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks

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Jayson Stark reports that Manny Ramirez had a workout in Florida a couple weeks ago for Japan’s Fukuoka Softbank Hawks.

We knew he was interested in playing in Japan, so this is not a terribly big surprise. Likewise, you’ll not be shocked to hear that the workout “didn’t go well.”  I’m sure Manny still has some skills, but they’re likely not so great that they’re likely to overcome the fact that Japanese teams aren’t historically big on non-comformist yo-yos, and when you add in the recent criminal history of Manny’s, he’s toxic.  Sure, if they thought he could hit 50 homers in Japan someone would take a chance, but he’s certainly seen his best days and may have also seen all of his useful days. No one with that profile is worth the baggage.

I think Manny’s only shot at playing again is (a) submitting to his 100 game suspension with no fuss to show people he’s going to be a good citizen; and (b) going on an absolute Rocky IV-style training binge, putting himself in better shape than he’s been in for a decade or something.

But really: when was the last time Ramirez did something with no fuss and when was the last time Ramirez appeared to dedicate himself to the game with focus and determination?

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.”