Deion Sanders takes batting practice with the Orioles

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In town for Thursday’s Browns-Ravens game, Deion Sanders suited up for the Orioles and took batting practice prior to Wednesday’s game. CSNBaltimore.com has the report:

Sanders, who spent parts of nine years in the big leagues, was given a locker next to Adam Jones. He looked pretty good in BP for someone who said he hadn’t swung a bat in several years, hitting several balls to the outfield. And even at 45, he’d probably still be a quality option on the basepaths.

Sanders last played in the majors in 2001 with the Reds. That was after a three-year absence, and he hit just .173 in 75 at-bats. Sanders had his best season in 1992, hitting .304/.346/.495 with an NL-leading 14 triples and 26 steals in 303 at-bats for the Braves. Obviously, Sanders was a much greater talent in football than he was in baseball, but even so, he may well have gone to a couple of All-Star Games had he focused on baseball exclusively as a pro.

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.”