Here are several links from the past week that will make the final Monday of January a bit more bearable:
- Once upon a time, Craig Calcaterra of NBC’s Hardball Talk notes, MLB viewed Portland, Ore., as an expansion or relocation site, but the city wasn’t too keen on the idea. Today, Portland appears to be warming to the thought of big-league ball being played there. Calcaterra says hang on a sec:
A blueprint is nice, but so is funding, and there are no details of that yet. And while there is talk of the possibility of a major corporate owner of a would-be Portland team, there is a lack of a willing seller or re-locator of a major league team. People talk about the A’s, but they’re not for sale and have not come off the idea of moving to San Jose or building a new park in Oakland. The Rays have a tough lease. Everyone else is pretty much in place for the long haul.
Also: it’s one thing for there to be community support and support of the city government when it’s all hypothetical like it is now. That draws people who are profoundly interested and desirous of baseball in the city. Once plans go further, however, in will wade the people who oppose such a thing, either because of the inevitable costs to taxpayers — even a totally private development would require some public help, even if it’s just utilities, infrastructure or property tax abatements and the like — or because some people just like to oppose big stuff like this. Sometimes the opposition is silly NIMBY stuff. Sometimes it’s serious stuff related to people’s vision of what they want their city to be like and whether professional sports fit that vision.
- Free agent Matt Garza agreed to a $52-million, four-year contract with the Brewers. Sports Illustrated’s Jay Jaffe looks at the signing and how it impacts Milwaukee going forward.
- After his free-agent contract with the Orioles fell apart, Grant Balfour inked a $12-million, two-year deal with a previous employer, the Rays. David Schoenfield of ESPN SweetSpot explains how this signing makes sense for Tampa Bay.
- We know why free agent players and their agents desire opt-out clauses; the Hardball Times’ Brad Johnson explains why a team might also find the clause useful.
- The new instant-replay scheme wouldn’t have helped resolve numerous postseason controversial calls, writes Grant Brisbee of Baseball Nation:
This isn’t exactly a surprise for a list like this because it’s not like there was a lot of mystery to what happened. There wasn’t a bang-bang play or a trap that happened 140 feet from the closest umpire. It was a judgment call. A split-second lousy judgment call, but a judgment call nonetheless. And those aren’t reviewable. Heck, some goofballs argued the call was correct.
It was, in Sam Holbrook’s judgment, a play that a shortstop makes with ordinary effort. I’m skeptical that any play from a shortstop in medium-left will ever be ordinary effort, but if Pete Kozma clanked the ball — closed his mitt too early, say — would he have been charged with an error? Probably. So maybe there’s something to the argument. Enough to make plays like this non-reviewable forever and ever.
- Jaffe’s colleague at SI, Tim Newcomb, updates his readers on the contentious renovation issues remaining between the Cubs and the owners of rooftops adjacent to Wrigley Field.
- Via Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: The Brewers will honor the team’s longtime radio announcer Bob Uecker with a statue in the
frontlast row of Miller Park’s upper deck.
That’s it. Have a walk-off week!