I've never had a tweet mentioned on cable TV before. That was cool.
Random trivia: MLBNow host Brian Kenny worked at Sears in Hicksville, NY at the same time as my mom. They worked different departments and didn't know each other.
The Rays new stadium news had many people quoting my old articles on the Tampa Bay market.
Over at Forbes, Daniel Epstein wrote,
The new ballpark will surely be an upgrade over their current one in most regards, but there is one major problem it won’t solve. The main reason for the Rays’ attendance issues is that the stadium is difficult to access from the rest of the Tampa Bay area. As Michael Lortz wrote for FanGraphs in 2017, “Tropicana Field is too far from the population center and the gridlock too tangled for enough fans to see the Rays on a daily basis.”
On BleacherReport, Joseph Zucker wrote,
FanGraphs' Michael Lortz pointed out in 2015 how the population within a 30-minute radius of Tropicana Field was relatively small. The typical traffic around Tampa can be enough to put off those who otherwise might have been interested in attending Rays games.
It is always cool to be quoted. I am glad people still find my work relevant. I wrote a lot about the baseball market in Tampa Bay and I have seen memes and graphics shared that link to my articles. Some big baseball content creators have even said I helped change their thoughts on the validity of Tampa Bay to support baseball. It is nice to be recognized.
I am thinking about writing more in 2024, I just have to figure out how I'll make it work.
Been a long time since I posted on this website. A long time. Too long. If this is a regular read and it is popping up on your RSS feed, I thank you for not deleting me. If you still follow your favorite websites via RSS, I thank you even more.
I wanted to post a link to an interview I did a few weeks ago on WFTS, Tampa's ABC affiliate regarding the Rays new stadium proposal. Eric Wexler of WFTS was nice enough to give me a call and ask me my thoughts.
You can check out the video on the network's official page here:
Here is the video:
I have been thinking about re-composing my spreadsheets on Rays attendance. I might do that in the offseason. Unfortunately, in late 2019, I lost a giant spreadsheet that had all the games of all the Tampa Bay-area baseball teams - both Major League and Minor League - from 2005 to 2019. Somehow I saved a postseason spreadsheet as the same name as the regular season spreadsheet and lost years of work.
I started cataloging 2022 games earlier this season. Unfortunately, life got in the way and I have been unable to keep up with the daily effort of updating the spreadsheet. So re-creating a spreadsheet from 2005 to 2022 might be the offseason project.
Meanwhile, I am still promoting my debut novel, Curveball at the Crossroads. After being named runner-up, Best Book by a Local Author by Creative Loafing, my novel has garnered several awesome reviews by various writers and websites across the web.
Here are a few of the sites that have written about Curveball at the Crossroads:
The last characteristic of the book I liked was how Lortz’s story had a lot of elements of good baseball movies and stories woven together. He clearly didn’t steal anything from them, but if a reader has seen any of these baseball movies, then they will see how JaMark or others are just like some of the people in scenes of these movies: “The Scout” (where I remembered the above mentioned perfect game), “Rookie of the Year”, “Field of Dreams” and “Major League.” This is not to say that one had to see those movies to enjoy the book, but fans of them will look at parts of this story and remember them. Not to mention I kept hearing the song “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” throughout the story – even though it takes place in Mississippi.
"Curveball at the Crossroads is a quick read that blends a familiar Faustian story arc with sports fiction. Detailed accounts of JaMark’s games and stats will transport baseball fans to the scene, but all readers will be compelled by first-time author Michael Lortz’s character-driven plot. Lortz uses dramatic stakes for his characters and a dry sense of humor to keep the reader entertained. He pays close attention to developing his characters, with adjectives and other descriptors woven within each moment of dialogue. The brief chapters and simple language keep the story moving toward the final swing. This page-turner adds a supernatural aspect to the idea of flash-in-the-pan athletes and keeps the reader wanting to know more."
"Some of JaMark’s feats are simply unfathomable, but Lortz pulls it all together in a crisp, believable story. There are several currents flowing in this book, but they inevitably swirl around JaMark. ... The final sentences will really get you thinking. I have a theory, but I will keep it to myself. Even if I am wrong, I am correct in saying that Curveball at the Crossroads was a fine debut."
I have some Rays memorabilia I am looking to part with. Most of this was acquired from 2009 to 2012 when I had Rays season tickets. I have posted several items on ebay. However, if you contact me on twitter or other social media, we can arrange a sale through cashapp, venmo, or cash in person.
$5 discount if you also purchase a signed copy of my novel Curveball at the Crossroads for an additional $15.
This list will be updated as needed. Click the title to see the ebay listing. Shipping cost not included. If the picture is of the box, the item has never been opened.
Mark Moses is the host of the Mark Moses Show on SportsRadio 1560 in my hometown of Melbourne, Florida. We have corresponded on twitter for years and with my roots in Melbourne but being on the ground in Tampa Bay, I can help get that "ground level" news. And being on his show also exposes me to my hometown friends and family, which is always cool.
Last week, Mark had me on again. We talked about the Rays, the Rays stadium situation, loving baseball, and my upcoming Curveball at the Crossroads signing in Cocoa, Florida - just north of Melbourne.
Many thanks to Mark for having me on!
You can listen to the show here:
The image above comes from a recent article in Tampa's Creative Loafing newspaper. In an article entitled, Tampa rich guys, who benefit from new Rays stadium, sign letter supporting new Rays stadium, writer Colin Wolf cites a recent tweet I posted regarding former Florida CFO Alex Sink.
Without going into the details of the article and discussing the group of non-baseball fan elites of Tampa who want to rob baseball fans of half the games of their favorite team, let me discuss where the tweet came from.
Former Florida CFO Alex Sink was one of the 36 Tampa elites who signed a letter to the Tampa Bay Times claiming half a season of Rays baseball is acceptable because it is better than no baseball. I looked up Ms. Sink on twitter and found a few of her tweets regarding her opposition to giving money to corporations. The Rays are definitely a corporation and would definitely receive public money from the building a new baseball stadium in Tampa. That sounds like something Ms. Sink would be against. Instead she is publicly supporting it.
No rich person is going to tell another rich person they aren't wearing any clothes.
But anyway, I am in Creative Loafing Tampa. Check it out.
On December 20th, 2021, I will be hosting a book release party for the 2nd edition of his highly acclaimed debut novel, Curveball at the Crossroads, from 6pm to 9pm at James Joyce Irish Pub, 1724 E 8th Ave, Tampa, FL 33605.
In a limited 1st edition printing, Curveball at the Crossroads received positive reviews from sportswriters, radio hosts, bloggers, podcasters, and New York Times Best Selling authors. Curveball at the Crossroads was also named runner-up, Best Book by a Local Author in Creative Loafing Tampa’s Best of the Bay 2021 Issue.
The 2nd edition of Curveball at the Crossroads builds on this success with a new cover designed by Grego “Mojohand” Anderson, one of America’s premier blues folk artists. This new cover captures the essence of the story while using the symbology of blues folklore.
Books will be available for purchase at a discounted rate and signed by the author. Drink specials to be announced.
I am super happy to announce that Curveball at the Crossroads is finally available on ebook!
Curveball at the Crossroads is available wherever ebooks are available, to include Barnes and Noble and Amazon. There is currently a slight discount at Barnes and Noble, so you can save 50 cents. But at most, the Curveball at the Crossroads ebook is $10.
Only $10 for a book named runner-up Best Book by a Local Author in Tampa Bay 2021.
Check it out here:
Ever since the Tampa Bay Rays have announced their idea to split the baseball season with Montreal, few Tampa politicians have come out and opposed the plan, despite St Petersburg politicians calling out the Rays and opposing their plan.
As I have mentioned before, the Rays have three audiences they are appealing to. They are, in order:
1A) Local politicians - important to pass funding
1B) Local businesses - important to buy ads, corporate season tickets, and other cooperation
3) Fans - irrelevant to funding. Important only for one revenue stream and visuals.
The Rays plan currently is a stadium in Tampa, more specifically in Ybor City. There are several plots in Ybor in which a stadium can be built - many of which are in tax-break funded redevelopment zones. These zones are in the Rays advantage, as they will have to pay less for the stadium.
(Although they are trying to pay nothing as it is, but if they have to pay, they want to be in an area that will give them a tax-break for "redevelopment". How a sports stadium is the best use of land ear-marked for redevelopment is beyond me but that's not the political perspective I want to address today.)
So why are Tampa politicians, led by Mayor Jane Castor, so supportive of the Rays Sister City plan?
Because Jane Castor and other local politicians don't care how many games the Rays play in Tampa as long as Tampa is in the name and the cost is acceptable.
Let me explain:
Economists like to say that local sporting events are not economic engines and are predominantly only a reshuffling of local money. For example, if they are was no sports in a city, people would go to the movies, go to dinner, go bowling, go to the beach, etc. They would still spend, but on other leisure activities. Local sports doesn't rely on tourists for existence and local economies don't rely on sports for existence.
Tampa politicians aren't supporting the Sister City plan for economic reasons. They are supporting it for marketing reasons.
"Champa Bay" is very catchy. Being a "City of Champions" is a great pitch to tourists, businesses, and people looking to move. Everyone wants to be near a winner and sports is a great community unifier. I guarantee people of differing political, religious, and other demographic persuasions attended the championship river parades of the Lightning and Buccaneers.
As long as the name "Tampa" is on a team, Tampa can reap the benefits of a team's success. The bubbles of COVID-19 seasons proved this. The Lightning didn't play a single home playoff game in the COVID-19 2020, yet politicians were quick to claim them. The team still "belonged" to Tampa, despite playing thousands of miles away.
If a Rays team splitting time with Montreal won the World Series, they would still contribute to Champa Bay. They can play 40 games or 4. It doesn't matter to politicians. They are rarely seen at games anyway for more than political appearances.
I have always estimated that 50% of people are baseball fans. 50% of City Council, 50% of the County Commissioners, and 50% of other legislators are baseball fans. A small percentage of that 50% are hardcore fans, most are casual. The non-baseball fan segment are looking at political decisions from a non-fan perspective. They are looking at costs and benefits.
I have outlined the benefit, now let's look at the cost.
The Rays don't want to pay for a stadium. They have balked whenever asked about cost. They claim "they don't want to start in the red" in a new home. They want to increase their revenue while paying the same cost for a building that they pay now. From their business perspective, that makes sense.
So the Rays devised a plan that will only cost two cities $300-500 million each to reap the benefits of claiming a winning team in their regional marketing material. Tampa politicians may balk at a billion dollar cost, but half of that might be acceptable if Visit Tampa Bay and other local tourist groups can mention the team in their pitches to people looking to visit and businesses looking for new home.
The alternative is Rays move and Tampa has only the Lightning, Buccaneers, and Rowdies to claim as part of Champa Bay. Which is not a bad situation to be in, but in the mind of a politicians, the more winners they can rub elbows with, the better. Even if the voters have to pay the cost.
Of course, if the Rays move and the Yankees get back on track, the Tampa mayor can claim the Yankees.
(Spring Training has always been insurance from a political marketing perspective. If the Rays perform poorly, Tampa, Clearwater, Dunedin, and Bradenton can claim to be the Spring Home of the Yankees, Phillies, Blue Jays, and Pirates, respectively. If the Rays do well, those cities and towns tie their wagon to the regional team.)