Tim Raines is not going to be on the list of names (er, probably name) when the Hall of Fame inductees are announced on Monday. But as we’ve argued over and over again around here, he should be. But he has time. Like Bert Blyleven, it will take some years and some persuading and eventually — hopefully — the voters will see the light.
John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle has seen the light. And I want to highlight it just so that the anti-Raines camp can’t do what so many anti-Blyleven types used to do and claim that it was just a cabal of deranged bloggers who pushed his candidacy. The part I want to highlight is this:
Hall of Fame leadoff hitter Lou Brock, whose career steals crown was swiped by Henderson, reached base fewer times than Raines (3,833) and had a lower on-base percentage (.343) and lower stolen-base success rate (75.3 percent). In fewer plate appearances, Raines had more homers and RBIs.
As Shea notes, Raines suffers because he wasn’t Rickey Henderson. Well, duh, no one was except Rickey Henderson. He is in the inner-circle of the inner-circle of all-time greats. But Lou Brock is a Hall of Famer too. And if there’s room for him in Cooperstown, there has to be room for Raines too, doesn’t there?
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.”