Everyone expects spring training games to be messy, especially early. Players are just getting back into the swing of things. Some younger guys have the pressure of playing with the big boys for the first time, or are competing for a roster spot; older guys are doing everything they can to keep their careers alive. You can see a lot of crazy things in spring training.
Saturday afternoon’s affair between the Braves and Nationals brought messy to a whole new level. The game featured seven multi-run innings, including four of four runs or more. Six errors were committed, five by the Nationals. 15 pitchers were used.
The fifth inning in particular stood out because of everything that happened. MASN’s Dan Kolko captured it all in one picture, which he posted to Twitter:
First of all, the Nationals substitutions at all eight non-pitcher positions, which really cluttered up the page. Then Freddie Freeman reached on a fielding error. Later, when Matt Lipka singled to right, Michael Taylor both missed the ball and made a throwing error, leading to the Braves’ third and fourth runs of the inning. The Nationals replaced pitcher Blake Treinen with Josh Roenicke. The Braves pinch-hit four times and finished the fifth inning with nine runs on ten hits, including eight singles.
Shockingly enough, the nine-spot wasn’t enough as the Braves lost 16-15. The Braves logged 25 hits. Spring training, everyone.
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.”