Ask Gary: Should Sternberg show more urgency for a stadium?

by Gary Shelton on March 25, 2017 · 5 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs, Tampa Bay Rays

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Saturday, 4 a.m.

I was struck by Ken Hagan's comments about the lack of urgency from Stu Sternberg. I still feel that he has checked out and wants to leave.   Do you still believe that he is committed to this area?

Jim Willson

If he isn't, then I doubt very seriously that Hagan would have a clue about it. Not a clue. If he was honest, he'd say "I'm a little frustrated, but it's only been a couple of months. Let's be patient and hope the Rays find a site where they can be happy for decades. Otherwise, I know nothing, and I'm only talking to hear my own voice."

Again, it was St. Pete that didn't let the Rays look around until January of 2016, and it was St. Pete that yawned when the Rays wanted a stadium where Al Lang is. If I was Sternberg, I'd suggest that the people who aren't urgent enough are the local politicians. For years, they just pointed to their lease and shrugged, as if the team would never leave.

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Personally, I think Sternberg is much more interested in building a stadium here than I would be. I'm not convinced a new stadium, built anywhere, would solve all of the team's attendance problems. But Sternberg seems convinced it can be better across the bay. Of course, at this point, it would cost him millions to break the existing lease

I know this: I'd prefer for the politicians I elected to work out of urgency. I'd want to force the issue. If I was Pinellas County, I'd have a stadium proposal in the hands of the Rays so it could see the advantage of staying on this side of the Bay.

Look, I get your mistrust. Sternberg is the guy who can take the ball and go home. He can end baseball in Tampa Bay if he wants. But a lot of owners would be gone already, wouldn't they?

Hey, if I was Sternberg, I wouldn't show my card, either. Especially not to Ken Hagan.

Being a Michigan fan I’m interested in where Jabrill Peppers will be drafted. I see that Jerry Angelo thinks highly of him and says his future is at safety which is a position the Bucs certainly need help. Do you think the Bucs are interested in him and is there a chance he could wind up here?

Larry Beller

I think there is a chance. Most mock drafts I've seen have Peppers going late in the first round, and with the Bucs picking 19th, it's a natural fit. Throw in the fact it's a need, and sure, it's possible.

Here's what impresses me about Peppers. He's a ballplayer. I get if you asked the Michigan team to pick sides and play a game among themselves, Peppers would be the first or second player taken. That means something to me. He's a warrior whose teammates think a lot of him.

I'm not sure that Peppers will meet the Bucs' greatest need, obviously. To me, that's Dalvin Cook, a back who is going to touch the ball 20 times a game. I think he helps more than anyone else in the draft. I haven't talked to scouts about him -- other than Jerry -- but he passes the eyeball test with me.

Lately, a lot of the mocks have the Bucs taking Miami tight end David Njoku. Njoku, too, adds an intriguing element to this pass offense. But they wouldn't throw Cameron Brate away, and with Evans and Deshaun Jackson, what is left? Four or five touches a game.

If I ran the Bucs -- and there's an amusing story there -- then I'd prioritize them this way: 1. Cook, 2. Njoku, 3. a great safety. Peppers, maybe?

Now for the story. Once, I was on a hot streak with Tampa Bay. I mocked them to take Keith McCants and Reggie Cobb, and they did. I said Dexter Manley was worth the risk, and the Bucs signed him. So my wife once suggested that I was running the Bucs. I told that to Rich McKay, and he grinned and said, "Well, you're doing a damn poor job."

A few years later, I criticized the run that Bucs were on. They won a big game, and Tony Dungy suggested that the team was responding to the negative criticism. "Hey," I said. "I should have gotten a game ball!" Dungy looked at me and grinned. "You got some votes," he said.

And no, Dexter didn't quite work out.

The NY Times this morning said that the USA WBC team had a “comparatively restrained” winning celebration, seems “other nations had rankled them with enthusiastic displays.” Reminded me of a opinion piece I read that said one of the causes of the demographic problem MLB has is the culture on the field that frowns on overt displays of emotion, celebration – run the bases after a home run with your head down, be professional, don’t flip your bat. I remember Ortiz complaining because Archer pumped his fist when he struck Ortiz out, and innumerable pitchers angry because a batter “showed them up” with a dance or flip or something – the point being younger generations like the emotional displays, which you find more in the NFL, NBA, even the NHL. Your thoughts? And speaking of Coop, whenever I see him on TV he is standing in front of a piece of Plexiglas, and behind him is someone sitting in a seat – now tell me, who says, “ Gee, think I’ll go buy a seat for tonight’s Lightning game right behind Coop so I can stare at the back of his sport coat all night…?

 Cecil DeBald

I've always thought it was silly for sports to surpress honest, raw emotions. Let a guy dance in the end zone. Big deal. Flip your bat. Pump your fists at a game-winning home run. If the other team wants to stop it, well, don't give up a game-winning home run.

Striking out David Ortiz at a key moment of a game is worth pumping your fist over.

As for Coop, no, he doesn't give you a lot of emotion. He's not exactly John Tortorella, is he? But Coop is a low-emotion guy; there is room for those in sports if the winning is good enough. The problem with Cooper this year is that there hasn't been enough to get emotional over.

I'll be honest I'm not crazy about props. I wasn't wild about Joe Horne going out before the game and hiding a cell phone in the padding of the uprights. That's a little overdone to me. But for crying out loud, what was wrong with the Ickey Shuffle? Or the Billy White Shoes dance.

I'm serious. If there is a problem in sports, it's that there isn't enough emotion. A guy who makes a terrific dunk should celebrate. A receiver who makes a great catch should. A baseball player who hits a home run should.

Put it this way: If they elect me commissioner on a Tuesday, I'm repealing all anti-celebration penalties on the following Wednesday. I might require dancing. What do you think?

CC Sabathia is currently the leader among active MLB pitchers with a career total of 38 complete games, which ties him for 997thall-time.  He has completed 7.9% of his starts.

Reviewing the careers of all of the starting pitchers that have been inducted into the BHOF since 1955, reveals the following:

% of complete games for BHOF pitchers who completed their careers during the 1950’s = 56.2%

% of complete games for BHOF pitchers who completed their careers during the 1960’s = 46.3%

% of complete games for BHOF pitchers who completed their careers during the 1970’s = 43.0%

% of complete games for BHOF pitchers who completed their careers during the 1980’s = 36.5%

% of complete games for BHOF pitchers who completed their careers during the 1990’s = 31.8%

% of complete games for BHOF pitchers who completed their careers during the 2000’s = 12.5%

For the 15  active starting pitchers who currently have $100 million or greater contracts (includes C.C. Sabathia), their composite % of complete games = 5.5%.  It seems, as the decades go by, starting pitchers are being paid more and more to do less and less.  What’s up with that?

Scott Myers

Scott, I'll give you this. You put in an amazing effort into your questions.

I think what has changed has been the staggering amount of money that pitchers are paid. Teams do whatever they can to make sure they have a reasonable workload. I think it's going overboard, and the late Don Zimmer agreed with me.  A team will go to its bullpen in the fifth inning of a shutout game, for goodness sakes. It's silly.

I've used this before, but you may remember the 1971 season, when four pitchers for the Orioles combined for 81 wins and all won at least 20. To me, the  key stat is the four pitchers combined for 70 complete games. Last year, only four pitchers threw more than three complete games all year, and none of them threw more than six.

Remember Gaylord Perry? He threw 303 complete games ... and he's 39th on the list.

Back in the day, if a pitcher had a sore elbow, the club told him to rub a little dirt on it. Now, they put him on the disabled list for 21 days and have surgeons poke him endlessly, because pitchers get paid as much as a franchise used to cost. Owners fear overuse.

Meanwhile, a pitcher feels he's done his job if he gets to that "quality start" line of six innings with three earned runs or less. It's become a mentality. Pitchers feel they've done a good job if they watch the last three innings of a game.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Cecil DeBald March 25, 2017 at 1:46 pm

From what I know, which is little, I don’t believe MLB has any rules about celebration, it’s a cultural thing. If a NHL player scores a goal he and the team celebrate, hug, and you don’t see a goalie saying, “the next time that guy comes by my net I’m going to slash his neck…”, but a player hits a HR and flips the bat and the pitcher is saying, “I’ll show that SOB the next time he comes up, I’ll be head hunting…”. Longo says he runs the bases with his head down because he doesn’t want to show up the pitcher. USA WBC is offended by other teams celebrating… I guess I just don’t understand the culture, all I ever played was little league and whenever we did anything at all we were jumping around and laughing and cheering and having fun. I guess somewhere between little league and MLB baseball became a serious , unfunny business…

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Larry Beller March 25, 2017 at 4:33 am

I researched funding for the new stadium in Atlanta which has a budget of $622 million with $368 million coming from the county from bonds and $230 million from the Braves. Would either Pinellas, Hillsborough or the Rays be willing to spend that kind of money for a team here? Should they? I think not to both questions. I agree with you Gary that a new stadium is just beyond our means or practicality here and I wonder if Sternberg hasn’t reached that conclusion despite what he has said publicly.

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Gary Shelton March 25, 2017 at 8:24 pm

Larry: I’ve always believed in a vote. Citizens have a right to say what should happen with their tax money. I don’t believe in “no stadium at any cost” or “a stadium at all costs.”

Keep this in mind. Sternberg has partners. I’m not sure those partners are as gung ho about Tampa Bay as Stu says he is.

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Larry Beller March 26, 2017 at 8:13 am

Gary: I’m sure you are right about that and who could blame them? I just read John Romano’s column in the Times and I have to say it’s a bit of an eye opener for me. I just can’t see how building a new stadium at the Trop site makes any sense monetarily. Also didn’t the residents of St Pete vote down a new stadium once already? One thing that sticks out is that the Rays will not be willing to put up anything close to what the Braves are paying in Atlanta. No surprise there. I think the way this is going to come down is the Trop site will emerge as the only viable site. The city will put it up to a vote and it won’t pass partly because the Rays will promise so little money to the project. MLB will then demand the Rays move to Montreal who will hand them a stadium on a platter. It’s a win win for everyone but baseball fans in this area. We get the shaft. But someone has to pay for years of being last in attendance. The sad truth is we are last in per capita income of all major league sites and we don’t have enough corporate money to bail us out. That’s a deadly combination.

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Gary Shelton March 26, 2017 at 11:46 pm

I understand your concerns. I wouldn’t want the park in the same spot, and I’m sure it isn’t Sternberg’s first choice. I saw that fully award that the Trop is actually one of the easiest parks to access in the majors. Try getting to Fenway some time.

It never got to a vote with St, Pete residents before, but the team was running behind in all of the poll projections.Given the passage of time, and the prospect of going to Tampa, it might fare better this time. But the same site — even with a Taj Mahal of a stadium — would give me a lot of pause.

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