Tuesday, February 7, 2012

MLB.com Columnist Sympathetic to Rays' Cause

Richard Justice, new to MLB.com, joined the chorus of Trop-bashers this week with a column applauding the Rays' handing of the stadium saga. To call the story one-sided would be generous, but NBC Sports' Hardball Talk writer Craig Calcaterra digs in appropriately:
Yes, the Rays have said almost nothing about their stadium situation and how it puts them at a financial disadvantage. The have said almost nothing. Except, you know, for when they have.
(L)et’s not pretend that they’ve said “almost nothing” about it, always taking the high road and never getting involved in the politics of it all. They’ve been agitating about it for years.
Justice misses other points too. He writes:
The Rays' bottom line is that they can't remain competitive at Tropicana Field. Reasonable people may disagree on how to change things, but the problem itself is right there in black and white. Despite having one of baseball's best teams, Tampa Bay remains near the bottom of baseball in home attendance and revenues.
The Rays have never demonstrated they can't remain competitive at Tropicana Field (in fact, their recent success has proven otherwise). They have never demonstrated they are "near the bottom of baseball" in revenues (although it's safe to assume). But without revealing their finances, we can only take the team's word for it.

There is no proof in "black and white," as Justice suggests, when there is no evidence provided by the Rays.
Tampa Bay has done it the right way, with a homegrown team that's great fun to watch, led by stars like third baseman Evan Longoria and pitcher David Price. The club has a general manager, Andrew Friedman, and a manager, Joe Maddon, who are among the very best in the business.

Beginning with Sternberg and team president Matt Silverman and extending right down the masthead, the Rays are smart, decisive and successful.
Justice is absolutely right on those comments. But later makes either a large assumption or repeats ignorant hearsay:
One plan to build a waterfront park in St. Petersburg fizzled for lack of public support, even though the Rays offered to pay $150 million of the construction costs and cost overruns.

It's not that the plan died so quickly that bothered the organization. If it had been about the details of the deal, they were willing to negotiate all of them. What bothered the Rays most of all was that St. Petersburg officials wouldn't even acknowledge a problem.
If they weren't acknowledging a problem, St. Pete officials wouldn't have gotten on-board with the proposed open-aired stadium. If now-Mayor Bill Foster wasn't acknowledging a problem, he wouldn't have campaigned on promises of a new stadium, albeit in Pinellas County.

Justice continues:
To maintain success, the team must be able to keep some of its best players and allow success to build upon success.
He's probably right.
Doing this requires bigger crowds and a stadium that produces more revenues.0
Or simply spending more and profiting less. Or just continuing to make wise front office decisions to overcome the hurdles.
At the moment, the Rays have just about run out of ideas. They'll continue to attempt to drum up support for their situation and to explore sites St. Petersburg officials might agree to.
Once again, the national columnist exposes his unfamiliarity with the situation. Sternberg has said he's not interested in St. Pete sites unless he can look in and around Tampa too.

So take the column for what it's worth - at best a simple view of why the Rays deserve a new stadium; at worst, an uneducated view of the stadium saga through the eyes of an outsider.

No comments:

Post a Comment