Ask Gary: Players Union takes aim at Rays

by Gary Shelton on March 3, 2018 · 6 comments

in general

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What impact, if any, will the grievance filed by the Players union against the Rays and 3 other teams have? Is it a big deal, little deal or nothing to see here?

Larry Beller

I'll be honest here. I would have been shocked if the players union didn't come down on the side of "let's pay the players more." There are certain things in life where you know how it sounds. The NRA is going to cling to the right to have guns. The clergy is going to think that the Ten Commandments are a pretty good guideline. And the MLBPA is going to want more money for the players.

This time? They may be right in principle. There are more teams

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trying to to get by with Blue Light Specials than there ever have been.

But the Players' Association brokered a deal without a salary cap ceiling or a floor. Teams may be wrong in the eyes of their fans, but they aren't wrong in the terms of the operating agreement. This time, the Players Association is  just noise in the wind and it'll be easy for the owners to ignore.

Now, the owners who have to share revenue? They might have a problem with it. The fans who have to pay for tickets? They might have a problem with it. But the players? Not so much.

Think of it this way: Did the Players Association ever have a problem with a fat contract where the player didn't perform? Of course not. Did they ever give change from a signing bonus where the player fizzled? Nope. They aren't interested in fairness. They're interested in the biggest piece of the pie they can get.

In other words, the owners don't have to be nervous as they count their coins.

Is it true that Tiger Woods has agreed to play in the Valspar because he just learned that there is a Perkins Restaurant just 4 miles from Innisbrook?

Scott Myers

That could have something to do with it, of course. Unless, of course, it's Ray Perkins' restaurant, and Tiger would have to go through three-a-days.
I've said before that Valspar is the perfect tournament for Tiger these days. There isn't a lot of pressure, certainly not like a major. He can play, finish 34th, and listen to the world say that his game is coming together.
Then he can have multigrain pancakes and bacon. Could there be a better weekend?
Seriously, the Valspar is shaping up to a nice tournament, isn't it? Maybe one of the best in Tampa Bay history. You'll have Woods, and Justin Spieth and Rory McIlroy. You also have Jim Furyk, Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott, Davis Love III, Steve Stricker, Zack Johnson, Justin Rose, Matt Kuchar, Luke Donald, Stewart Ciny, Charles Howell III and Brad Snedeker.
Good competition. In other words, tip your waitress.
I was disappointed to read about Jameis Winston’s recent car crash.  Not because I pay his insurance premiums (I don’t) or because I’m his auto insurance agent (I’m not), but if any Buccaneer player needed a quiet offseason – free of any negative events, it was Winston.  The ongoing NFL investigation from last offseason (“Ubergate”) will be a distraction I fear, sooner or later.  Three seasons and $16.7 million signing bonus later, he still shows signs that he’s not the mature leader we so desperately need at QB. I’m confident the Bucs will use the 5th year option before committing the real enchilada bucks. How much emphasis goes into off-field issues – even though minor (recent accident) and under investigation (Ubergate) -  for that next big contract? If your name was Glazer, what would he need to accomplish by season ending 2019 on the field, and does his past (and future) off-field stuff concern you (from what we KNOW now)?

Bruce Brownlee

The way I look at it, any day where the major headline about Winston is a fender-bender is a good one. It could be much worse, couldn't it.

I'm ready to post a piece on the Uber investigation. But, sure, if you're the Bucs, you have to monitor it closely. He's said he's not guilty of the accusations, but if he turns out to be, I'd have a serious discussion over whether you should invest $150 million or so in him.

Fair or not, there will always be a cloud over Wnston because of his past, and it doesn't matter that he was never charged in his sex accusations while at FSU. If, in 25 years, some woman in a bar says that Winston touched her improperly, all of his past is going to return to the headlines. That's just the way society works.

I hope Winston is not guilty, because sexual assault is an ugly accusation, and because if he's guilty, it shows a terrible lack of judgment on his part. I'm not sure that I can lay that much money down on his future.

If I owned the Bucs, I'd like to see some maturing by Winston. Throw away that routine where he gobbles up fingers as if they were wins Tell him to stop tweaking other players on the helmet. Leadership isn't just noise. It's actions. Have you ever seen Drew Brees start a fight with another player? Tom Brady? Aaron Rodgers?

Fans who say that Winston hasn't progressed at all don't seem to be able to read a stat line. He's come a long way as a player. But he has a distance to go, too. On the field. And off of it.

Tiger Woods is back and playing fairly well. Not great. But pretty good. I think we’ll all agree now that Jack Nicklaus’ majors record is safe, but do you think Tiger will win another tournament in his career, much less a major?

Peter Kerasotis

I do. There are so many nobodies who win a tournament here or there that I think it's silly to think that Woods isn't capable of putting four good days together. I don't know if it will be a major, but the Valspar or the Detroit Dogleg ... maybe.

I don't know about you, but I think we've gone into the forgiveness state of Woods career. I think if he wins an itty-bitty tournament, the nation will cheer, and they media will act as if he's climbed Everest all over again. Tiger winning would turn back the clock, and it would be the most received event in golf.

Me? I'm kind of over Tiger. I've never found him to be warm or forthright. But, yes, he is entertaining to watch.. And what do the writers say? You  always pull for a good story.

(Peter is a long-time Florida sports columnist, a buddy of mine, and the author of several books. His latest is Felipe Alou My Baseball Journey is scheduled to be released on April 1. He'd grin if you bought one.)

Why don't the Rays radio broadcast all of their spring training games?

Scott Myers

I think the announces, paid for by the time, are still looking to put their spin on what an exciting off-season the team had. You know, how the team got rid of the old guys for some fresh new faces. Whee.

It's either that or both Dave and Andy fear that they're going to get traded, too.

I don't know why the team doesn't broadcast the games. I think, like, seven of the 34 games will be on TV, but in most of them, the team is maintaining radio silence.

I suspect that no one wants to pay to give three hours of air time for the Rays to play practice games. I'm sure if there was a profit to be made, the team would jump all over it.

I can't say that I'd listen to a lot of games, to be honest. Maybe when a mainstay pitcher was throwing. Maybe if Kiermaier was playing. But I think Marconi would turn off the Rays these days.

 Hey Gary, what are the Rays doing? Shouldn’t they be putting in extra effort to win fan support until this stadium deal is done?  After the announcement recently of their plans to move and build a new stadium near downtown Tampa in Ybor City, immediately preceded and followed by their budget shredding moves including “hasta la vista” to Longoria, Souza, Dickerson, and Odorizzi and now it looks like our young phenom (and injured) pitcher Honeywell may get a reprive from this soon-to-be traveling circus.  Correct me (please) if I’m wrong but won't the final say (yay or nay) for the financing of a good portion of this new stadium come from the citizens of the City of Tampa as well as voters in Hillsborough County (like me)?  I don’t think Stooge Sternberg plans to build the park with his own funds… their timing seems REALLY lousy for all this. Then today, I hear news that MLBPA has a grievance with the Rays not spending their revenue sharing (ie: payroll).  What's the logic her, Gary?  Can you shed any light?

Bruce Brownlee

Certainly, you'd think that the Rays would rather be thought well of than the opposite as they prepare their push for a new stadium. But how much it will hurt -- vs. the leverage of major league baseball leaving forever -- can be debated. When the Rays were good there for a while, it didn't help them at the gate. Maybe being bad won't hurt, either. If you remember, the Bucs were pretty bad as the community voted on Raymond James Stadium.

Like most of us, I assume the voters will have a lot to say. But that hasn't happened everywhere. I know the fans didn't get a say in the new Seattle ballpark. I don't think they got a say in Miami.

But let me ask you something. Suppose the Rays had paid all the money to keep Longoria, Souza, Dickerson and Odorizzi. Supposed they brought back Logan Morrison and Alex Cobb, too.

Where do you think they would have finished? Remember, with those guys last. year, the team finished 80-82. If they brought back everyone and finished third again, would you be more likely to vote for a new stadium?

The Rays are going to argue that their payroll cycles, that they go low every now and then until they get close, then they make a push to be decent. This is just the low point in the cycle. Now,  you and I would agree that with the way player development is going, it's going to be a while before the team is ready to compete.

I don't know if it will work or not, but the Rays' plan is to hope their farm system has enough talent to make them into a young contender. At least, that's the plan. The team has certainly invited enough skepticism to go around.

The great teams use a lot of ways to make them contenders. Their farm system, selected free agents, solid trades. A team needs to be good, and lucky, to use only one.

What do you think about "grad transfers", graduates who use their last year of eligibility at a different school? Is it good for college football and the players, not so good, or maybe it doesn't make any real difference? Also, I read that the NCAA is considering allowing recruited players to transfer with no year of ineligibility if the head coach leaves. Assuming I remember that correctly, what are your thoughts?

Cecil DeBald

If I'm honest, I don't care for college football free agency. But if the player is struggling for playing time, or like ECU quarterback Gardner Minshew, just wants to be a small part of something bigger, well, it doesn't keep me up nights.

For the most part, Russell Wilson had a great season after leaving N.C. State. But who else has really profited from it? Florida and Luke Del Rio? Please? FSU and Everett Gholson? Really?

If you remember, Cam Newton and Jake Coker were the more traditional typeof transfers. They weren't senior transfers.

All in all, I don't think it's caused enough damage to fret about now. Disagree?

Except for the first 20-25 games this season, the Lightning have been not much better than an average team for the last two years. This, despite all the accolades of how great the players are. This team is really just a group of very good players who rely on their goalie for many of their wins. I'm not sure Jon Cooper is a good match for this teams' make-up. In hockey, I think lackluster play does come down to coaching to a great extent. If the Bolts don't get to the Conference championship round (which I highly doubt), do you think Yzerman might make a coaching change?

Barry McDowell
Barry, I think Cooper is better than you seem to think. He's been to a Cup final and a conference final, which isn't bad. He has the best record in hockey this year, which isn't awful.
At some point, however, Yzerman might look at Cooper and decide he wants more. It happens with most coaches. I don't think this is the year for that, but if you remember, Guy Boucher didn't last long after going to the conference title game, either.
It's funny. I had a conversation with Oren Koules once, and he assured me that the days of a coach like John Tororella were over, that the players wouldn't suffer a drill sergeant anymore.
The thing is, there are different coaches for different teams. You might prefer for Cooper to have more of an iron boot and to call players out more often. You might not.
Still, best in the league is best in the league. Right?
While it might be a bit early, how do you think the Bucs will handle the upcoming draft with the 7th pick? Go with the best available player at any one of several positions of need? Go with the best available at one specific position? Trade up to get someone specific? Trade back to get an extra pick?  Select a kicker?
Cecil DeBald
It's going to be interesting, because it doesn't seem that the team's biggest needs are gong to match the available talent. Everyone knows the team needs a pass-rushing end, but Bradley Chubb seems as if he might go third to the Colts.
So where does that leave Tampa Bay? They don't need a quarterback, and it's too high to draft a running back. I hear treat things about Quinton Nelson, the guard from Notre Dame. But guards don't usually go that high, either. Do you reach for Marcus Davenport? Do you draft a safety -- which isn't the team's biggest need -- in Derwin James or Minkah Fitzpatrick?
I'd sure talk about moving up for Bradley Chubb. If not, I might be willing to move back a few spots.
I know this: In a year that might decide Dirk Koetter's future, I wouldn't go down with these defensive ends or with these cornerbacks.
Would you?
Care to take a shot at writing the "new" NFL rule on what is a catch?  Also, what do you think about making pass interference a 15 yard penalty like the NCAA rather than a spot foul?
Cecil DeBald
I talked to both Jerry Angelo and Tim Russell about this right after Roger Goodell talked about clearing up the catch rule. They agreed that it's hard to make it any clearer than it is.
One think I would do is clarify what a "football move" is. Refs seen to get into trouble over those interpretations.
I know this. Catching a football is a fairly simple part of the game. It seems easier to come to agreement over when a player has done that. Right?
I would like the 15-yard interference rule as long as it becomes edible for replay. I never quite got why one penalty could be 67 yards. I do know this: Officials have to clear up the hand-fighting that seems to happen all of the time. If the penalty isn't so great, maybe they call that better. Who knows.
I know this, too. Anytime a receiver or defensive back ran up a referee and begged for an interference call, he should get a 15 yard penalty for looking stupid.


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