Buffalo’s MLB team that wasn’t

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Great article about Coca-Cola Field — formerly known as Pilot Field — in Buffalo.  The ballpark that, back in the late 80s and early 90s, was constantly outdrawing a couple of major league teams every years.

Forgotten now was that the park was built to be expanded, with the specific intent of luring a major league team. But, as Mark Byrnes explains in The Atlantic, it was never to be:

Ownership and the city did everything it was supposed to do. It built spectacular facilities and filled it up each game those first three and a half seasons, even outdrawing two Major League teams. So when June of 1991 came and Denver and Miami were given the two expansion franchises, the city’s pursuit of big time baseball ended as deflating heartbreak to a population just months into coping with ‘Wide Right.’

It was the right thing done at the wrong time, as the economics of Major League Baseball were on the brink of a fundamental shift, and smaller cities without major media and corporate power were no longer welcome at the big boy’s table.

It’s a dynamic that, had it existed earlier, would have kept Pittsburgh, Milwaukee and a host of other cities out of Major League Baseball.

Nathan Eovaldi to make 2018 debut for Rays soon

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Rays manager Kevin Cash said that pitcher Nathan Eovaldi will join the starting rotation on Monday or Tuesday to face the Athletics, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Eovaldi’s rehab outing with Triple-A Durham went well, even though he gave up eight runs in four innings.

Eovaldi, 28, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2016 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He had arthroscopic surgery in March to remove loose bodies in his elbow. It’s been a long road back. Knowing Eovaldi needed to recover from surgery, the Rays signed him to a one-year, $2 million contract in 2017 that included a $2 million club option for 2018 that they exercised last November.

When Eovaldi last pitched, he ranked among baseball’s hardest throwers, particularly among starters. He averaged 97.1 MPH on his fastball in 2016. Among starters who racked up at least 100 innings that season, only the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard had a higher average velocity (97.9 MPH). It remains to be seen if he still has that velocity after undergoing two procedures on his elbow.

The Rays will be glad to have Eovaldi back. The club has sustained injuries to Jake Faria, Yonny Chirinos, and Jose De Leon.