Thursday, September 2, 2010

Tampa Yankees to Orlando? The Story with Endless Punchlines

I'm kind of hoping Orlando businessman Armando Gutierrez, who promised to bring MLB to Orlando, hangs a giant "Mission Accomplished" banner today when he holds a press conference announcing negotiations with the Yankees to buy half their Florida State League (FSL) team.

Mission Accomplished

The Yankees say the deal isn't done; Gutierrez says it basically is. Regardless, one baseball insider told me any deal that convinces the Yankees to move their FSL team out of Tampa will be a bad one for the investors.

FSL teams traditionally play in spring training parks because their sparse crowds don't warrant stadiums of their own. Simply put, FSL baseball is amazing baseball that nobody watches because Florida's summer weather is just miserable.

The same insider said the $25 million Gutierrez promises for a new stadium "won't go very far," but "good luck."

Gutierrez quit his bid for Congress earlier this year (which was failing because of his "carpetbagger" reputation) to focus on bringing Major League Baseball to Orlando. Then he realized he was in over his head and focused on bringing ANY baseball to Orlando. But he's once again showing he's just a rookie in Central Florida:

"Until (Major League Baseball's) ready to send us a franchise," Gutierrez told the Tampa Tribune, "minor league will satisfy the sports fans."

Think Gutierrez knew Orlando had minor league baseball for more than 30 years before the Rays pulled their Double-A affiliate out after the 2003 season (poor attendance)? Or that the area has had the Gulf Coast Braves (which nobody watches) for a number of years?

I wish Gutierrez the best of luck in negotiating with the Yankees, but he may want to give Scott Boras a call. It's the only way he might make out in the deal.

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