Lineups for this afternoon’s Game 3 in Detroit …
CF Austin Jackson
RF Torii Hunter
3B Miguel Cabrera
1B Prince Fielder
DH Victor Martinez
SS Jhonny Peralta
C Alex Avila
2B Omar Infante
LF Andy Dirks
SP Justin Verlander
Tigers manager Jim Leyland is sticking with Jhonny Peralta at shortstop, but has made a change in left field by starting Andy Dirks instead of Don Kelly.
CF Jacoby Ellsbury
RF Shane Victorino
2B Dustin Pedroia
DH David Ortiz
1B Mike Napoli
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia
LF Jonny Gomes
SS Stephen Drew
3B Will Middlebrooks
SP John Lackey
Red Sox manager John Farrell has made some changes, moving Mike Napoli back into the lineup at first base after going with Mike Carp in Game 2 and flipping Jonny Gomes and Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the batting order. Switch-hitter Daniel Nava remains on the bench against a right-hander, which didn’t happen often during the regular season when he hit .322 with an .894 OPS off them.
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.”