There is, indeed, an MLB-to-Portland group

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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.”

Yoenis Cespedes may need season-ending surgery

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Yoenis Cespedes is facing potential season-ending surgery, the outfielder told reporters following the Mets’ 7-5 win over the Yankees on Friday. Newly-returned from the disabled list after rehabbing a hip flexor strain and quad tightness, Cespedes appeared to be back to his old self after going 2-for-4 with a walk, base hit, and home run (his ninth of the year) during Friday’s series opener, but later remarked that he was suffering from calcification in both of his heels.

The only remedy, it appears, is a surgery that would require anywhere from 8-10 months of recovery. Should he elect to undergo the procedure now, it goes without saying that he won’t be able to return to the field before end of the regular season. On the other hand, if he postpones the surgery until the offseason, he could miss the first half of the Mets’ run in 2019.

The pain doesn’t seem to be debilitating, at least for the time being, but Cespedes added that any discomfort in his heels causes him to stand, walk, and run differently, which presents a definite problem if the club intends to ramp up his workload going forward. The Mets have yet to announce a final decision regarding any surgical procedure, though they will bench the outfielder for Saturday’s matinee against the Yankees. Following yesterday’s impressive performance, Cespedes is currently¬†batting .262/.325/.496 on the year with 15 extra-base hits, three stolen bases, and an .821 OPS through 157 PA.