Thursday, February 24, 2011

Time to Redact the Contraction Talk

Slow news day.

Why else would John Romano write about the "gaining credibility" of MLB contraction?

Halfway through the article, I thought he was criticizing the Ken Rosenthal column suggesting contraction:
So should Tampa Bay fans be practicing their panicked expressions this morning? Probably not. I'm guessing there is zero chance the Rays, or anyone else, will be contracted before the next labor deal is finalized in the coming months.
But then Romano spends the rest of his column explaining why Rays fans should possibly fear contraction. He acknowledges the idea as far-fetched, but since Stu Sternberg is unlikely to threaten contraction and Bud Selig doesn't like direct threats...the only people likely to stir the contraction pot...are columnists.

Romano usually does good work, but I think he missed the story here. He touches upon the possibility of Sternberg taking a check from MLB in 2017 to simply fold the franchise, but that's unlikely. Far more likely is the possibility of Sternberg getting involved in an ownership shake-up like we saw in 2002 with the Red Sox, Marlins, and Expos.

If you want fun speculation that isn't so far-fetched, what would happen if the Steinbrenners sell the Yankees? Would Sternberg look to "upgrade?" Even if the Rays don't have a new stadium, he'll make a great profit. And if the team does have a new stadium, tack another $50 million to Stu's bottom line.

Not saying it'll happen...but it's a lot more likely than contraction.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Hank Steinbrenner Calls Out Jeter Mansion

Continuing in his father's footsteps of criticizing his team, Hank Steinbrenner suggested Monday that some of the Yankees players "celebrated too much last year" and they were "too busy building mansions and doing other things and not concentrating on winning."

Although he denied the slight was aimed at Derek Jeter, the team captain dominated headlines in both New York and Tampa when he built his 30,000-square-foot home on Davis Islands (with fence).

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Florida Lawmaker Tries Blocking Stadium Funding Again

State Sen. Mike Bennett (R-Bradenton), one of the world's biggest opponents of stadium subsidies, is at it again. Bennett re-filed legislation today to prevent public financing of sports stadiums without voter approval.

I remember covering a similar bill he filed in 2009, but it never made it out of committee. He took it as a hint not to file again in 2010.

But hope springs anew for Bennett in 2011, the era of anti-tax sentiments. He's been taking aim at an effort in Miami to renovate Sun Life Stadium with public dollars and hasn't been shy in the past about the need for private businesses to build their own stadiums.

In 2005, when the "Tea Party" was nothing more than a line in a history book, Bennett told the Sports Business Daily, "if you can afford to pay somebody $53 million to throw a baseball 90 feet, you can afford your own damn stadium. I believe you should support your business and I’ll support mine. Nobody ever gave me a handout. What kind of deal is that?”

He updated his comments in 2011, saying, "If you can pay someone $52 million to play the game of baseball, certainly you can build your own stadium with your own money.”

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Softer Side of Stu

Give Stu Sternberg this - he's definitely softening up. Conspiracy theorists may say it's simply a shift in his stadium-seeking philosophy. However, his 30-minute chat with reporters on Wednesday (and December sit-down interview with me) are a nice start toward repairing his image in Tampa Bay.

Aside from shrugging off the notion that he'd be interested in purchasing the Dodgers or Mets (everyone knows he wants to buy the Yankees, not the Mets!), Sternberg indicated he was taking his foot off the throttle a bit when it comes to the team's search for a new home.

"There is nobody to blame," Sternberg told Gary Shelton from the St. Petersburg Times regarding the stadium saga. "This is our situation."

Sternberg added he had not been contacted by any other cities about relocating despite his threat last summer that there were five markets better for baseball than Tampa Bay.

Roger Mooney from the Tampa Tribune reports that Sternberg said movement might happen this year on the stadium issue, but "if it's going to fall totally on my shoulders, no."

Much like advocates of light rail in Tampa Bay, it seems Sternberg is keen to the anti-spending sentiment out there these days and is content in waiting some time before putting the pedal to the metal again on the issue.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Lawsuit Sheds Light on Agent's Relationships with College Kids

Just received a press release from a law firm in Tampa suing national securities firm Oppenheimer & co. The suit alleges that investors were defrauded out of money intended for college football players after they declared themselves eligible for the NFL draft:
The complex scenario generally worked as follows. Investor monies were raised for the purpose of creating and funding an investment used to fund the temporary needs of young NFL recruits during the period of time immediately following their departure from college football and prior to their entry into the NFL draft. This is a period of time wherein sports agents aggressively recruit top NFL future talent to support their extremely lucrative businesses. Having monies available to lend to these recruits is a very powerful recruiting tool for sports agents. Monies were thus raised by Oppenheimer’s New York City office through (a financial advisor in New York) to fund the loans to these young recruits which were guaranteed by the players, the sports agencies, and others.
The suit claims, however, that the monies were funnelled elsewhere, defrauding investors.

The athletes indirectly involved in the suit include Steelers' WR Emmanuel Sanders (just ays before the Super Bowl), Broncos CB Perrish Cox, Cardinals LB Daryl Washington, Jets CB Brian Jackson, and Raiders DE Lamarr Houston.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Tampa Mayoral Candidates Talk Rays

Even though the Rays' stadium saga has been quiet this winter and the City of St. Petersburg remains at the helm of any possible negotiations, candidates hoping to become Tampa's next mayor in March tackled the issue at a debate Wednesday night.

While every candidate said the issue was solely St. Pete's to deal with right now, Tampa would be a grateful host if the team wanted to jump the bay...and finance its own stadium.

Click here to read their responses.