Mike Barrett

Mike Barrett involved with group attempting to bring MLB to Portland

Mike Barrett involved with group attempting to bring MLB to Portland

A management group has been working quietly behind the scenes for more than a year on a plan to bring major-league baseball and a stadium development to Portland.

The spokesman for the group, and a managing partner, is the former television voice of the Trail Blazers, Mike Barrett.

“There is a formally organized, sophisticated and seasoned management group running this initiative,” Barrett said Tuesday. “We will keep you fully apprised of any and all developments as this project progresses.”

Barrett, who did not identify anyone else in the group,  said they prefer to operate behind the scenes at this time but are pursuing a "smart and careful approach" and "doing it exactly the right way,"

Barrett was known for his work in basketball, particularly his play-by-play duties with the Trail Blazers, which began in the 2003-2004 season and ended after the 2015-16 season. But he was also an all-state pitcher at West Albany High School and is a lifelong baseball fan.

“After the Trail Blazers, I was weighing several opportunities but I didn’t want to leave the area,” Barrett said. “And when I was approached by this group, with a chance to help bring major-league baseball to my home state, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me.”

Portland began to sneak into conversations about MLB expansion during the last year or so.  Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred mentioned the city recently during an interview in Seattle, saying Portland would be “on a list” for expansion, emphasizing a need for a team in the Pacific time zone as part of a expanded and reconfigured 32-team league.

In a story published this week in Baseball America, well-connected Hall of Fame baseball writer Tracy Ringolsby outlined a 32-team expanded MLB with realignment that resulted in a 156-game schedule and four eight-team divisions, with Portland listed in the West division.

Ringolsby referred to Portland as a city with a “legitimate” ownership group, which is the group Barrett is associated with:

“And there is a legitimate ownership group in Portland that has the necessary financing along with support for a stadium, which would be partially funded by a $150 million grant. Approved by the state of Oregon to help finance a stadium when efforts were underway in 2003 to be the site for the relocation of the Expos (who instead moved to Washington, D.C.), the grant is still available.”



Let's get a few things straightened out about Trail Blazer announcers

Let's get a few things straightened out about Trail Blazer announcers

I knew the Trail Blazers were opening the door to a lot of criticism when they let go of television broadcasters Mike Barrett and Mike Rice last summer. They were at it a long time here and very popular among the local fan base.

I've seen and heard comments on social media and in the concourse of Moda Center that have surprised me and I think it's time to set the record straight -- at least my conception of the record. Some random thoughts about the situation:

  • I cannot believe how many people say that Calabro isn't enough of a homer for them. What I've heard more than once is, "He doesn't even say 'we' or 'us' when he's talking about the Trail Blazers." This is usually spoken as if Barrett constantly used those words. He didn't. And I never considered Mike a homer. Did he lean toward the home team? Of course -- as does Calabro. But please, don't paint Barrett as an out-and-out homer. He wasn't. He called games pretty straight by today's standards.
  • Mike Rice? That's a different story. He was very comfortable in his role as the hometown analyst, going as far as making fun of opposing coaches or players and making snide remarks about players who were once Blazers -- things he'd never have said while they were playing here. And the sniping at the referees -- wow. All of that is part of what made him such a fan favorite here -- he was saying things a lot of fans would have said. It worked for him.
  • For me, I have no problem with announcers being more excited about the home team. What grates on me the most is when they say things about the competition that they'd never say about the home team. You should treat both teams the same when it comes to criticism. Even if you're a homer. Don't make light of an opposing coach for doing something and then ignore it or praise it when your coach does the same thing. That's the very essence of a homer.
  • I think most of the time, the analyst naturally ends up being more of a homer than the play-by-play man. By nature, the one doing play-by-play is delivering facts while the analyst is analyzing -- which is subjective and often leads to commentary.
  • For all those fans who want a homer, I'd ask simply, "How do you trust that?" If there's a bias there, aren't you worried that you're going to get things sugar coated? Do you care if you get truth? Apparently not.
  • Kevin Calabro is one of the very best in the business. If you don't enjoy listening to him, I'd suggest you just give it time. With all announcers, there is a getting-acquainted time. The longer you listen to them, for the most part, the better you like them. It's a matter of familiarity.
  • Mike Barrett is also one of the best. I have no doubt that if he was willing to relocate, he'd already be working for another team, either in the NBA or another sport. He's that good. I also believe he'll eventually end up with a great gig around here somewhere, if that's what he wants.
  • Just throwing this out there: I grew up in a time when broadcasters most often worked for the radio or TV stations, rather than the teams. They still were partial to the teams they broadcast, but weren't under their thumb. They could reasonably say what was appropriate and obvious. I miss that system.
  • You have no idea how much pressure many franchises in various sports put on their broadcasters to basically sell tickets rather than broadcast games. They want the best spin on everything that happens during a game, no matter how ridiculous that can be sometimes. I feel for those people who often end up trying to paint a happy face on a sports disaster.
  • Franchises need to understand the value of allowing their broadcasters to call games down the middle. It gives the fan base confidence in them -- so when they do praise the home team, people actually believe it, rather than think it's just another spoonful of sugar.
  • Two words in that regard: Vin Scully.
  • You have no idea how difficult it is to do what great play-by-play broadcasters do. Or maybe you do. People like Calabro and Barrett work extremely hard to make their job sound easy. I have nothing but admiration for their talent.

Blazers turning page on broadcast team

Blazers turning page on broadcast team

The Trail Blazers made it official this morning in a news release about broadcasters Mike Barrett, Mike Rice and Antonio Harvey -- they will not return next season. The team's president and CEO made this comment in the release:

“After reviewing our entire broadcast operation over the past couple of seasons, I felt it was a good time for us to transition into a new direction,” Chris McGowan said. “I would like to thank our broadcasters for their years of dedicated service to our organization and wish them nothing but success in their future endeavors. Going forward, we will focus our efforts on a national search to fill our open TV broadcast positions, with the number one goal of bringing in top-notch talent that our fans will be excited to watch during Trail Blazers broadcasts.”

The broadcasters I was able to reach did not choose to comment on the sudden and unexpected news. Of the three, the most unexpected move was Barrett, who has been the team's television play-by-play voice since 2003.

At this point, I have nothing to report about the team's plans. But I would guess that at some point Kevin Calabro, the Bill Schonely of Seattle, will be considered for Barrett's job. Just a guess, but I assume Trail Blazer owner Paul Allen has an affinity for Calabro after listening to him in Seattle for so many seasons. And as long as we're thinking about a Seattle connection, former Trail Blazer coach P..J. Carlesimo also lives there and does a lot of broadcast work for ESPN. He might want to be a little closer to home and would make sense as Rice's replacement.

I don't think moves like this are made without replacements in mind.