Last year there was a controversy in which the Mets wanted to wear first responder caps — FDNY and NYPD caps and the like, as we saw after 9/11 — but Major League Baseball told them they couldn’t.
In my view that was a stupid decision. I still haven’t heard a good rationale for it. It’s not like this opens the floodgates for other teams to wear unofficial caps. To suggest it would is to ignore the pretty obvious fact that 9/11 was far more significant — and especially significant to New York — than any other sort of tragedy that may inspire a team to wear irregular gear. I know people feel uncomfortable with such distinctions, but you can draw a line between 9/11 and, say, a massacre that kills 20 people or something.
Anyway, that decision by MLB last year angered the Mets, who considered going rogue and wearing the FDNY/NYPD hats anyway, risking fines. They ultimately relented, however. This year there will be no such controversy, as the league and the team have reached an agreement:
To mark Tuesday’s 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Mets will continue their long-standing tradition of wearing first responder caps, though only during batting practice and the national anthem. The Mets will don their regular uniform caps for their game against the Washington Nationals.
Still nice, I suppose. But I think the Mets should be allowed to wear them during games when far more people can see them.
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.”