MLB officials were back in Portland yesterday, listening to the Oregon Stadium Campaign's dog and pony show and trying to talk money out of Portland's city government for a new ballpark.
The OSC's current plan calls for a $350 million ballpark, with $200 million in private financing and $150 million of bonds to be paid for by a tax on visiting ballplayers. Those bonds need a private issuer and guarantor. Given their stance against private financing, MLB have as much chance of approving this plan as they do of selling the Expos to me for my current bid: two bags of Kettle Chips, my 1991 Dodge Spirit, and $88.31 in cash. The Expos are not going to Portland; in fact, they aren't going anywhere. After visiting Portland, the MLB delegation refused to talk to the press, which tells you just how good this little "auction" is going. All the viable Washington bidders have dropped out, San Juan as a potential site is a joke, Portland can't even scrape together five bucks of public money in the face of a horrible budget crisis and a collapsing economy, and Charlotte isn't even on the radar screen. Montreal is staying put for another year, and MLB will come up with some other creative solution to keep the team from making a serious push at contention... though the San Juan Plan hasn't worked quite yet.
Monday was a very, very slow news day around baseball.
The Detroit Tigers, by at least one reasonable measure, have the fourth-best defense in the major leagues. The Tigers are 4th in MLB in DER, trailing only Oakland, Seattle, and the Dodgers. (DER measures the ability of the defense to turn batted balls in play into outs.) Some of this (perhaps much of this) is park effects, but it's still a terrific achievement... they were 28th in the majors last year.
FREE TERRMEL SLEDGE!
Ellis Burks has a "neuromuscular problem" whose diagnosis seems to change depending on who you ask. Some reports have it as a straightforward elbow problem, but the Cleveland Plain Dealer are reporting that there is nerve damage in Burks's right arm, which has led to a loss of strength in his right hand, and muscle loss in the hand to boot. There's also numbness in his hand and fingers, and elbow pain. This sounds awfully serious, not the typical 15-day DL injury, and it's sad to think that Burks, who has had a terrific career and a terrific set of autumn years, might have it end with this sort of problem. Coco Crisp, everyone's favorite breakfast cereal, is coming from AAA where he has been on fire, one of the best hitters in the minors.
A very interesting report on graduation rates for NCAA baseball programs. I'm trying to track down a copy of the report, but the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport doesn't go out of the way to publicize itself well.
I really do love 13-8 games. Am I a Philistine?