When Ozzie Guillen bashed Buster Olney on Twitter Friday, he was merely criticizing the accusation that his team has given up. On the other hand, he is perfectly willing to admit that his team isn’t any good.
The Palm Beach Post has the quotes:
“When you say I lose control of my team (and) they’re not playing hard, you’re not watching this ballclub play,” Guillen said. “Say we’re losing, yes. We play terrible, yes. We’ve been bad all year. But (say) they not play hard? That’s a lie.”
Guillen says his players really have no choice but to play hard.
“But when you make a comment saying your team doesn’t play hard enough, you’re not watching us. You’re not. Because first of all, there’s only two players in my lineup right now who have for-sure, for-sure, for-sure jobs next year, guaranteed. Only two (right fielder Giancarlo Stanton and shortstop Jose Reyes). Then the other guys have to bust their tails to convince us they can play for us next year.”
Unfortunately, the fact that they should doesn’t necessarily mean that they will. Justin Ruggiano is still giving it his all. Donovan Solano doesn’t look like much of a talent, but he’s making the most of his playing time. Carlos Lee? John Buck? Probably not.
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.”