When Bobby Valentine was fired as Red Sox manager, I was slightly sad that I would not have Bobby Valentine to kick around anymore. Now I really won’t have Bobby Valentine to kick around anymore. Not because he’s disappearing, but because he’s now a coworker and one does not speak ill of coworkers. From Richard Deitsch:
The NBC Sports Group and Dial Global will formally announce Monday that Valentine has joined the NBC Sports Radio lineup as a Major League Baseball contributor. He will call in weekly to NBC Sports affiliated stations over the next two months before co-hosting a daily sports-talk show on NBC Sports Radio starting in April.
Seriously, though, even if he wasn’t coming to work for NBC, I would consider this a good move. Valentine got himself in a lot of trouble this last year precisely because he had strong opinions and was not hesitant to voice them. Indeed, the times he probably looked the worst was when, possibly spurred by the Boston front office, he was required to walk the comments back after they stirred controversy. A task which was usually accomplished quite unconvincingly.
Valentine was a good manager for many years, but the Valentine of 2013 is made for talk radio. This makes total sense to me.
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.”