Here’s a perfectly ridiculous idea to save the Rays

by Gary Shelton on June 21, 2019 · 0 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.

Content beyond this point is for members only.

Already a member? To view the rest of this column, sign in using the handy "Sign In" button located in the upper right corner of the blog (it's at the far right of the navigation bar under Gary's photo)!

Not a member? It's easy to subscribe so you can view the rest of this column and all other premium content on

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.


{ 0 comments… read it below or Subscriptions }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: