The Nationals hit six home runs last night. They also did it on Tuesday night. That’s only the third time a team has hit six homers on consecutive nights ever. The previous two: the Angels did it against the Expos in 2003 and the Dodgers in Colorado in 1996.
Caveat: the former did it in Hiram Bithorn stadium in Puerto Rico, which was very homer friendly, and the Dodgers did it when Coors Field was at the height of crazy. But for as bad as the Cubs are, I don’t think they justify the same sort of asterisky treatment those band boxes should get.
The specific number of homers in these games inspired this post, but the significance of it is that for as much as we’ve talked about the Nationals pitching this year, the offense is really asserting itself now. Bryce Harper is waking up after a somnambulistic July and August. And Adam LaRoche has been insane. They have power threats in every position except catcher and right field, and even then Jayson Werth has been getting on base at an all-star clip since returning.
The Nats are the most complete team in baseball right now.
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.”