Bob Nightengale of USA Today confirms Jon Heyman’s report that Nelson Cruz will accept a 50-game suspension rather than appeal:
I think “devastating” is a bit strong. He’s not the only guy on that team and the Rangers are a mere half game out of the wild card, but yes, it does have a negative impact on Cruz’s team.
The calculus for Cruz is understandable: if he takes his 50 games now he gets it all behind him. Which is kinda important for him personally, as he is a free agent after the season is over and having looming discipline would hurt his market. Of course, being a PED guy may hurt his market too — ask Melky Cabrera — but the lost time out of the gate is obviously a big hurdle for any team who might want to sign Cruz.
Of course, as Nightengale notes, this may hurt him with the Rangers too. They likely view this as a blow to the team and view him as acting in self-serving way by appealing. Bringing him back may not sit well with a decent chunk of the fan base. For Cruz there really weren’t any good choices here. If he appeals he’s a drug cheat denying reality and is hurting his value going forward. If he doesn’t he is seen as a bad teammate.
Gotta pick one, and Cruz picked one that I imagine most of us — and most players — in his situation would have picked.
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.”