Here’s a perfectly ridiculous idea to save the Rays

by Gary Shelton on June 21, 2019 · 12 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Rays

Sternberg seems ready to sing ‘Oh, Canada.’

Friday, 3 a.m.

It’s a stupid idea in St. Petersburg. It’s a nutty idea in Montreal. It’s a laughable idea in Tampa. And it’s an absurd idea in the New York offices of Major League baseball.

Yeah, you certainly have to hand it to Rob Manfred.

This time, the stupidity has touched all the bases.

Here’s the bottom line: To preserve the market, baseball would have the Rays play the meat of their schedule in Montreal. To grab a new market (and an old one), the Rays would play the early season, the glorified grapefruit season, in St. Petersburg. We get the salad, they get the steak. And both cities would have to build a new stadium.

Everyone loses.

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Look, it’s impossible to defend the historic attendance figures for Rays’ games. It’s embarrassing, and it threatens the prosperity of the franchise. No doubt about any of that. People who think Stu Sternberg is sitting on stacks of money are just fooling themselves.

That said, no one here wants half of a team. It would be better to have none at all.

Hey, there are obvious problems with this braincramp of an idea. First of all, who in hell is going to build two stadiums. The Rays have twice failed to have a stadium built for a full season. No one is going to be interested in building one for part of a season.

Hey, Montreal is in good position to get its own franchise — if it can come up with a stadium. Why should it settle for half of a year, even if it’s the better half?

And the Rays have suggested that they would somehow make it — there are doubts —  if they could come up with a stadium. But under this cockamamie plan, both cities are going to build new stadiums for a tag-team season. It ain’t happening.

Oh, there are other problems. Players are never going to agree to purchase two in-season homes (plus an off-season one, if they want). They aren’t going to line up school for their children, and doctors.

Then there is this: It wouldn’t work.

Oh, I’m sure that someone in the Rays’ office has suggested that their annual attendance wouldn’t be half-bad if it were doubled, and adding a city with more home games would do that.

But would you really buy tickets to see the Rays play in April, May and June while any pennant race happened somewhere else? Where would you play the playoff games?

Then there are the politicians. The Rays have zero rights to talk to Montreal. They had negotiated a window to talk to Tampa, but that has expired, and the politicians suggest they won’t engage in talks with Montreal.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to cheer for a double play that goes from Florida to Canada.

And so, if you and I agree that is unworkable, what is the Rays’ intent here? Are they trying to kick-start negotiations with St. Pete, which may still be angry over the flirtation with Tampa? Are they winking at Montreal? Are they letting other cities know they can be had?

Look, if this has a ghost of a chance to pass — and it’s no more than a ghost — then both cities will make do with the stadiums they have. It is laughable to try to get two parks built for fractions of a season. Hey, if two cities make sense, why not three?  Why not four? Why not play 40 games in Las Vegas, 40 in St. Petersburg, 40 in  Montreal and 40 in San Antonio?  You could even play the two extra games in Nashville.

Hey, there is a reason teams call it “home.” There is a reason teams develop their own markets.

No, attendance hasn’t been what it should be over the years. That’s agreed. But the Rays’ seasons haven’t been what they should be, either. They’ve had losing records 14 of 20 seasons. Only four times have they made the playoffs.

Still, I get it. There are a lot of empty seasons, especially in those seasons when the team has been good. And so, if the day comes when the Rays need to move, I’ll understand.

But no one is renting a time-share here. It’s St. Pete’s team, or it’s not.


{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Richard Kinning June 26, 2019 at 8:23 pm

Hmm Will the announcers have to start saying eh after every pitch? It will be fun if they make them touk while broadcasting the game.

Maybe then stu will wish for cuban sandwiches and the trop.


Gary Shelton June 26, 2019 at 8:41 pm

Maybe. I think Stu kind of wants it all.


BILL MYERS June 22, 2019 at 9:50 am

Unbelievable!! I really thought this was a hoax…fake news! But no, this is really some pipe dream! As the saying goes…stupid is as stupid does. Goodby Rays been nice to know ya!


Gary Shelton June 22, 2019 at 11:52 pm

I think this could b laying the groundwork for a move. I think Sternberg has a lease he can’t break, but he wants to preserve that market. This could be a way.


Larry Beller June 21, 2019 at 6:00 pm

Sternberg will go to any extreme to avoid investing his own money in a new stadium. This idea is based on the 2 regions deciding to build 2 relatively inexpensive open air stadiums without money coming from the Rays. Just like a lot of their baseball strategies it doesn’t take into account the human factor. Fans in St Pete have no interest in rooting for half a baseball franchise. This idea is a joke.


Gary Shelton June 21, 2019 at 8:43 pm

I agree. I just read a q & a on ESPN, and it totally dismissed the notion that the lease-holders in St. Pete aren’t giving permission to talk before the lease runs out. That IS a factor. The idea of two towns that have struggled to get stadiums built building new stadiums is laughable. I really think this area would let its team leave rather than built a new stadium.


Peter Ford June 21, 2019 at 10:55 am

You’re correct that this “plan” has no chance. I’ve said for a decade that the Rays would wind up in North Carolina, but Montreal is clearly an option – – I’ve seen the size of the crowds there for a few Blue Jays games.
Last nights game, which I thankfully didn’t watch, reminds me of the pre-2008 Rays, when no lead was safe. Ugh!


Gary Shelton June 21, 2019 at 8:44 pm

North Carolina makes sense. So does Montreal and a few other sites. But the Rays have zero permission to talk to other communities until their lease is up.


Scott Dennison June 26, 2019 at 6:55 pm

Gary if NC is the right location, won’t MLB and it’s cabal extract an expansion fee? Topkin suggested it could be $2B and Romano thinks it’s at least $1B. Isn’t that a factor?

What about the idea that Oakland has a deal for private financing with no tax money involved in their new park – what prevents Stu from selling this deal to his gang of rich buddies?


Gary Shelton June 26, 2019 at 8:47 pm

Oakland’s plan was partially put together by bright policitians. To be honest, it’s been criticized, too. But at this point, I imagine Sternberg would want anyone to pay for his stadium.


Rick Martin June 21, 2019 at 5:11 am

Sounds like a divorce settlement where TB gets partial custody with visiting rights. But sometimes teams faltering like the Rays have got to think outside the box sometimes to generate novel ideas. This market is a stay-at-home, watch them on the HDTV, fandom. TB fans can do that with the Montreal and other road games. Me? I say break free from MLB completely. Ive re-signed myself to that already.


Gary Shelton June 21, 2019 at 8:45 pm

I think more people will think of it like you. Half a team is worse than none at all.


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