The “move the A’s to Portland” drum continues to beat

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Almost all the beating is coming from Lynn Lashbrook, president of Sports Management Worldwide and the primary backer for the aborted effort to move the Expos to Portland in 2003. But it is beating. Here’s a story about Lashbrook’s efforts and estimates regarding the cost and logistics of a ballpark. Here’s an interesting sidebar about how the A’s (or whoever) could theoretically play in the Hillsboro Hops’ minor league park temporarily while a stadium is built.

That’s all good — Lashbrook is doing a lot to answer the inevitable “how it might work” questions — but the biggest issue is still unaddressed: who pays for a ballpark and who owns the team.

The team ownership issue is key, because it’s highly unlikely that either the current owners of the A’s or Rays would commit to any sort of massive self-financed stadium project in a new city. And that’s before you take into account the fact that neither have expressed a desire to sell. But, say they do: someone has to buy the A’s or the Rays for some amount north of $500 million and south of a billion, and that same someone would have to pony up hundreds of millions for a stadium. All with no promise of the kind of TV money the Dodgers received after their $2 billion sale. Because Portland may want baseball, but they only have so many people to broadcast it to.

So it would take a sports-crazed billionaire, really. And yes, Portland has one. Maybe two. But neither have expressed much interest in getting into the baseball business. Maybe that changes — now would not be the best time for them to go public with their great interest in doing so — but until it does, baseball in Portland seems more like a pipe dream than a reality.

Cardinals tab Miles Mikolas for Opening Day start

Miles Mikolas
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The Cardinals have selected right-hander Miles Mikolas as their Opening Day starter, the club revealed Saturday. It’ll mark the first career Opening Day start for Mikolas, who is scheduled to go up against the Brewers when the team hits the road on March 28.

The 29-year-old righty was a strong contender for the 2018 NL Cy Young Award, earning All-Star distinctions and pitching to a career-best 18-4 record with a 2.83 ERA, 1.3 BB/9, 6.5 SO/9, and 4.3 fWAR over 200 2/3 innings. He’s positioned to lead the Cardinals rotation in 2019 as well, with former Opening Day starters Carlos Martínez and Adam Wainwright and some combination of right-handers Jack Flaherty, Michael Wacha, Alex Reyes, and John Gant behind him.

Manager Mike Shildt told reporters that Flaherty, Wacha, Wainwright, and Martínez had all been considered for the honor, but admitted that Opening Day honors were ultimately handed to Mikolas “in recognition of [his performance] last year.” The Cardinals are scheduled to play a four-game set against the Brewers to start the season and will stop over in Pittsburgh for another two games before returning to St. Louis for their opening homestand against the Padres on April 4. Additional pitching assignments have yet to be announced.