Scott Rolen ranks among the best defensive third basemen in major league history and catcher Ryan Hanigan had a fantastic season behind the plate.
But baseball can be an incredibly cruel sport.
Hanigan let a Jonathan Broxton pitch get to the backstop with two outs in the top of the 10th inning, allowing Buster Posey to advance to third base and Hunter Pence to scoot over to second. And then Rolen bobbled what looked like a routine grounder off the bat of Joaquin Arias, allowing Posey to cross the plate for the go-ahead run. It was the Giants’ first lead of this five-game division series, and they’d hold onto it tightly.
Sergio Romo shut the Reds down in the bottom half of the 10th as San Francisco picked up a nail-biting 2-1 win and managed to avoid a sweep in Game 3 of the NLDS on Tuesday night at Great American Ball Park.
The extra-inning loss spoiled a dominant effort by Reds starter Homer Bailey, who matched a career high with 10 strikeouts and carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning. He wound up allowing just one run on one hit.
Game 4 on Wednesday will feature either Mike Leake or Mat Latos against San Francisco’s Barry Zito.
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.”