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Tampa Bay Rants And Raves

WEEK OF JULY 14, 2019


A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value.


Special Edition: Why the Rays-Expos pact will fail


Sorry about the lack of an updated blog last week. We were temporarily homeless and computer-less. This week, a bit of a departure from our usual format driven by the momentous, some would say ridiculous, events of the past couple weeks involving the Rays. The idea of split cities has more holes than half a dozen golf courses – and below we explore the larger craters:

1. Play-offs? As constituted, this year’s Rays team is headed for the playoffs – most likely a wild card one-game affair. Who gets it -Tampa Bay or Montreal? Do we alternate years? Playoffs don’t happen that often. The Rays haven’t been to the playoffs in five years – that’s a long time between postseasons.

2. What’s magic about Montreal? There is a good reason Montreal lost the Expos. In the last seven years of major league baseball in Montreal, the Expos pulled less than a million fans (a paltry 12,000 a game) six out of seven years. Even the attendance challenged Rays have never been below a million. Montreal is a hockey town period.

3. The players and their union will not buy it. Two cities means two homes – not to mention a third home that most players keep outside the market where they play. Even for major league salaries, that’s tough – not to mention the strain on their families.

4. Tax and currency issues. In Tampa Bay, players pay no state income tax. In Montreal, there is a provincial tax – just another reason the player’s union won’t be buying this. Then there’s Canada’s usually devalued dollar.

5. The Bay area gets hosed on the spring-summer equation. Baseball attendance is always higher in the summer months – schools out, vacations etc. While the team may not care which season makes the money, the local employees and vendors surely will.

6. Will the owners play along? Well to begin with, there’s that pesky tax and currency thing. For the owners, a trip to Montreal will involve devalued dollars for their team’s share plus their players being taxed for the money they make playing there. We’ll rate the travel expense as a push – all the AL East teams are closer to Montreal even though flying a charter there is usually more expensive. Most big leaguers already possess passports, so that won’t be an issue. But if we were betting, we would say owner approval is not a slam dunk.

7. The language barrier. The official language of Quebec is French and they are quite militant about it, thank you. Is it not enough for ballplayers from outside the U.S. to learn the vagaries of English and American customs much less the, shall we say, unique customs of Montreal?

8. Disconnects. Stephen Bronfman, of the same family that lost the Expos to Washington in 2005, is already referring to the proposed hybrid team as the Expos. That should fly well in Tampa Bay!

9. Stadiums. Montreal’s lukewarm response to helping build a stadium seems like a groundswell compared to St. Pete’s reaction to the idea of building a new open air facility to host maybe three dozen games a year. The Montreal media is conjecturing that Montreal builds a modest stadium, the Rays remain in the Trop through 2027 playing to crickets and then Sternberg sells out to the Bronfman syndicate and achieves his real goal in baseball by buying the Mets.

10. So many moving parts. As we sadly learned from our recent real estate misadventure, when there are too many moving parts, the deal is usually doomed to failure. This deal with Montreal makes rocket science seem simplistic.


MLB at the halfway mark


If you had money on the Dodgers, Astros or the Yanks, you’ve got to like your chances. As a pure baseball fan, you’ve got to love the NL Central where four and a half games separate first from last. Two teams to keep an eye on in the second half, but for different reasons. The Twins are starting to fade, and we’re not sure they have the money or the prospects to cure their ills. On the other hand, over the last month or so, the Nats have been the best team in baseball now that their pen is not blowing leads nightly. And speaking of pens, there are going to be some king’s ransoms paid for quality relievers between now and the end of the one and only trading deadline at month’s end. It is going to be a very interesting second half.

NEXT UP: Back to our usual drivel next week.       


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