The Dodgers have been doing something silly this year. Fun silly. The kind of silly that, if you’re not invested in the opposing team’s fortunes, probably makes you smile. They’ve had a little battery-powered bubble machine in the dugout and someone turns it on and they do little dances when they hit home runs.
Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports, however, that Major League Baseball has told the Dodgers to cut it out:
Before Tuesday’s game against the Angels at Dodger Stadium, Joe Torre, Major League Baseball executive vice president, advised the Dodgers to stop using the machine . . . The bubble machine was back Wednesday, at Angel Stadium . . . Did the Dodgers negotiate a compromise with MLB, or did they unilaterally decide to bring back the bubble machine?
No one is giving any comment about it, Shaikin says, so it’s unclear whether Joe Torre relented or whether the Dodgers are being bubble-blowing badboys.
I hope MLB relented here, because as far as home run celebrations go, this is pretty darn tame. It’s off-the-field for one thing. It’s not taunting anyone. In an age where fireworks go off, complicated handshakes and gestures are flashed and music is blared through the ballpark at ear-splitting levels every time a home team player hits a homer, I’m not sure what would possess anyone to target a child’s bubble machine.
This game is fun, people. Let’s have some fun out there.
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.”