Yasiel Puig and his companion in throwing out base runners, Yoenis Cespedes have made baseball a lot of fun to watch lately. Puig showed off his well-respected cannon of an arm once again during Sunday afternoon’s series finale against the Diamondbacks.
With the bases empty and two outs in the top of the fifth inning, Diamondbacks outfielder Cody Ross dunked a weak line drive down the right field line, just inside the line in front of Yasiel Puig. The ball caromed towards the stands — and the ballboy — and Puig had to navigate an awkward bounce around the cluster of people in his vicinity. Puig barehanded the ball, then fired a cannon to shortstop Hanley Ramirez covering second base to nab Ross for the final out of the inning. Check it out.
We really need a throwing competition added to the All-Star Game festivities.
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.”