Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com wrote a lengthy Jose Reyes article about how the Blue Jays shortstop plans to be healthier and more productive and more active on the bases this season. Pretty standard “spring training optimism” stuff, but it includes Reyes’ thoughts about playing on Toronto’s turf and they were pretty interesting:
The 30-year-old said “it wasn’t good” when asked to describe his experience with the turf, but then also quickly pointed out that despite all of the preseason concerns, his hamstrings never became an issue and the ankle injury happened away from Rogers Centre. …
“People know that playing on the turf every day is tough,” Reyes said. “But as a player, it is what it is. We have to play in there, so you have to find a way … so you can stay on the field and adjust to the turf. It’s not in anybody’s mind. Playing on the turf every day is going to beat up your body.”
Reyes missed 69 games, attempted just 21 steals, and perhaps most tellingly hit zero triples after topping double-digit triples in seven of the past eight seasons, including leading his league four times. However, it should also be noted that he essentially matched his career numbers offensively when healthy enough to be in the Blue Jays’ lineup. His bat wasn’t the issue.
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.”