Monday, December 28, 2020

Blake Snell, Stu Sternberg, and Contracts of Fans and Cities

It has been a while since I wrote from a fan perspective. This site and its predecessor were highly analytical stomping grounds, where charts were composed and numbers were studied. Where starting pitchers had negligible impacts on attendance and stars counted less than wins.

I still believe that.

But what about morale? What about the idea that making fans feel good about liking their team is a good thing? What about giving people who support you something to believe in?

What is there to believe in for Rays fans? You could believe the team will win 90 games in 2021. That's not a bad place to put your faith. They have won 90 games the past two seasons, and their front office often makes chicken salad out of chicken scraps, so 90 wins is a good thing to believe in.

You could believe in certain players. You could believe Tyler Glasnow could be better or that Randy Arozarena's postseason was a harbinger of amazing days to come. Those are great things to believe in.

Would you believe the Tampa Bay Rays have faith in their own fans? Would you believe they have faith in the region? Would you believe Stu Sternberg wouldn't pack up every Rays-branded bat, ball, and glove and move out as soon as possible if given the chance?

Sports Illustrated writer Emma Baccellieri wrote a fantastic piece on the recent trade of Blake Snell on Monday. Of her excellent essay, this was the paragraph I liked the best:

If fandom is a contract—unspoken, unwritten, but a contract all the same—the team’s end of the bargain is supposed to be acting in good faith. The most basic violation here is a team that does not show appropriate interest or investment in winning. (Just pick your favorite example.) But fans watch for reasons other than the chance to win, and so, of course, there are other ways to violate the contract. There is a deal like this one. It comes partially at a cost for winning—for the present, at least. But the far larger cost is to the sense of any familiar relationship with players, and that, too, is an essential aspect of fandom. To have it ripped out by the roots, again and again, in the name of payroll-cutting and window-adjusting, can feel like a violation of the fandom contract as much as any other.

This paragraph got me thinking. Is there a social contract between fans and teams? What is a sports franchise's obligation?

Although I really like Bacellieri's line of thought, I don't think the agreement is about winning or even familiarity with the players. Did Cubs fans really care that the Cubs didn't win for 100 years as long as the sun shone on Wrigley Field and beer and hot dogs were readily available? Is a team there to win or to entertain? Entertainment is the lifeblood of Minor League Baseball, where wins are nice, but don't really matter. A true analysis of the impact of wins to attendance in various markets has not been done to my knowledge. 

So let's take winning out of the equation. 

What about familiarity with the players? Is that necessary? I might be in the minority, but I don't believe it is.

I would be interested in seeing attendance trends when star position players were traded or left via free agency. Nationals attendance dropped 300,000 fans from 2018 to 2019 with the subtraction of Bryce Harper. But the Nationals still won the World Series. So did they violate the contract? Without comparing game-to-game attendance, we don't know how much of an impact Harper's departure really had.

What we do know is that starting pitchers average 15 starts at home a season. A decrease in those 15 games would not have a large impact on the overall season attendance. So let's put familiarity aside.

Let's look at "acting in good faith".

When was the last time Stu Sternberg acted in good faith? When was the last time Rays fans thought he was a good guy? When was the last time Rays fans thought Sternberg had their best interest in mind?

Personally, I have been critiquing Sternburg's message to the fanbase since 2011. Nine years of poor messaging is a lot to handle.

Compare Sternberg to Lightning owner Jeff Vinik for a moment. Vinik is making billions on Tampa Bay real estate. He is profiting off entire city blocks. But everything he has done, from revitalizing the arena to creating a championship team to working with USF to creating new office spaces, has at least appeared to be in the best interest of the people, especially Lightning fans.

Vinik's approval rating among Lightning fans is probably 100%.

While the Rays aren't in the real estate business, they can't even say how managing their team is done in the fans' best interest. It's like they don't care about the fans. I feel bad for their marketing and ticket sales staff.

The Tampa Bay Rays can't even guarantee they will be playing in Tampa Bay in 7 years.

Where will the Cubs be playing? Chicago.

Where will the Giants be playing? San Francisco.

Where will the Marlins be playing? Miami.

The playoff-less Mariners will still be playing in Seattle.

At least 28 other teams (with the exception of Oakland) can guarantee to their fanbases that they will still be playing in their cities in 2028. Even Tampa Bay's Minor League teams (Tarpons, Threshers, Blue Jays, and Marauders) can guarantee as long there is a Minor League season, they will be playing in their municipalities.

(Which is part of the problem as I wrote about five years ago. Analyzing the faith and good will of our local elected leaders to support Major League Baseball is a whole other essay.)

The Rays social contract with their fan base is in shambles. For many fans, it is completely broken. 

Stu Sternberg's approval rating among Rays fans is probably less than 33%. And that's only because they credit him with hiring folks who do bring smiles to the faces of Rays fans. 

No fan expects winning every year (with the exception of Yankees fans, and no one likes them). But expecting your team to have a good relationship with your fanbase and your region is expected. The Rays are good at rebuilding on the field, but off the field is where the most work needs to be done.

If they care.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

New post on Fangraphs: Why a World Series Appearance Might Not Save the Rays in Tampa Bay

When I am not promoting my book or working my day job, I am still writing. And one of my favorite subjects to write about remains the Tampa Bay Rays. Although I don't write often enough to blog regularly here, I do like still popping up in places where the baseball audience can read my work.

Since 2016, I have been a guest blogger over at Fangraphs. While it has been a while since I wrote there, I figured I would submit a post and discuss the Rays with one of the top online baseball communities.

So here is my latest: Why a World Series Appearance Might Not Save the Rays in Tampa Bay. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Talking with the St Pete Sports Connection

 As I mentioned in my previous post, I spoke with Mike Rickord of the St Pete Sports Connection while I was signing Curveball at the Crossroads at Ferg's Sports Bar. St Pete Sports Connection is a regular Saturday afternoon show that broadcasts from Fergs. 

Mike and I spoke about Curveball at the Crossroads, it's background and influences, other sports, events, and even some pro wrestling. It was a good time and I hope to be back on again soon.

You can listen to my appearance on the St Pete Sports Connection here:

Thanks again to Mike Rickord and the St Pete Sports Connection for having me on.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Signing Curveball at the Crossroads at Ferg's Sports Bar

I had my first book signing event at Ferg's Sports Bar in St Pete, in shadow of Tropicana Field. I could not think of a better place to kick off my debut novel.

It was definitely fun, even if I gave out more business cards about the book than book sold. But I talked to some great people, including Mike Rickord of the St Pete Sports Connection.

I hope to be at Fergs again, perhaps closer to or during baseball season. Hope to see everyone there.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Curveball at the Crossroads Book Signing at Fergs Dec 12th 1pm to 4pm

I am super excited to announce that my first book signing will be at Ferg's Sports Bar & Grill on Dec 12th from 1pm to 4pm.

I will be talking with Mike Rickord of St Pete Sports from 12:30 to 1pm then I will selling and signing books. I hope to meet many of my readers there. It will be a great time.

I appreciate your support!

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Talking with Shooter and the Stache

I had the pleasure of talking with the fine gentlemen of the Shooter & the Stache on their video sportscast. We talked Rays, the Rays stadium situation, and of course, my new book Curveball at the Crossroads.

Check out their show here. I am on at the 35 minute mark. By the way, I love their intro.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Book Trailer for Curveball at the Crossroads

Just like movie trailers, book trailers are designed to attract interest. This is my first book trailer and I think it turned out really good. Many thanks to Tampa Bay area radio personalities Steve Carney and Patro Mabili for their voices and Bill McArdle of Xtra Medium Productions for his work putting the video together.

You can buy Curveball at the Crossroads by clicking this link. Find out more about the book at

As always, thank you for your support!

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Curveball at the Crossroads: a new baseball novel with a Tampa Bay influence

Order here:

Curveball at the Crossroads

I am super excited to announce that my first novel is now available for purchase. Entitled Curveball at the Crossroads, it is the story of a baseball player who makes a deal with the Devil after a career-ending injury. As he rises in success, he realizes eventually all deals come with a price. His deal with the Devil could cost him everything he cares about.

As far as I know, baseball novels by Tampa Bay writers are rare. Most baseball books focus on New York or other major markets. While the book focuses on the crossroads of rural Mississippi, the main character spends most of his professional career in Tampa Bay. There are also other mentions of Tampa area locations.

This book is a labor of love. I started it in 2012 and was tinkering with it for nearly eight years before pitching it to a publisher. When I finished, I was very happy with the final product. I hope others find it as enjoyable as I do.

I hope to have book signings throughout Tampa Bay during the holiday seasons and then again during Spring Training and the 2021 baseball season. I look forward to hearing what people think and meeting any and all of my readers.

Order Curveball at the Crossroads through Legacy Book Publishing here:


Curveball at the Crossroads will be posted on Amazon in a few weeks. I will post that link as soon as I get it, but supporting local publishers is important.

As always, thank you for reading and for your support!

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Book Review - Hall of Name: Baseball's Most Magnificent Monikers From The Only Nolan to Van Lingle Mungo and More

A few months ago, prominent baseball writer D.B. Firstman released their new book, "Hall of Name: Baseball's Most Magnificent Monikers From "The Only Nolan" To "Van Lingo Mungo" And More". As a baseball history fan, I was intrigued. As a Tampa Bay baseball blogger, I asked D.B. if the book had any relevance to Tampa Bay baseball.

"Quinton McCracken and Grant Balfour," D.B. replied.

I was sold.

Hall of Name is a fantastic look at the amazing names that have graced baseball boxscores from the early days of professional baseball (who is Lip Pike?) to the current National and American Leagues. D.B. divides the names into several different categories - players with rhyming names and alliteration (Ed Head, Ugueth Urbina, etc.), dirty names (Gene Krapp, Tony Suck, etc.), rhythmic names (Billy Jo Robidoux, Kiki Culyer, etc.), and a grab-all category of other fantastic names (Jimmy Gobble, Urban Shocker, etc.).

Each of the 100 players profiled in the book has a short write-up. The write-up is divided into three parts. The intro contains the player's full name, pronunciation of difficult name (how do you pronounce Mmahat?), nickname, height/weight, born/died, position, years in the Majors, and fascinating name etymology/definitions. Following the intro is a brief biography of each player, which in some cases must have required a great amount of research. Closing each player's write-up are paragraphs on each player's best day in the bigs, "wonder of the name", "not to be confused with", fun anagrams, and "ephemera" - random notes about the player, from family tree to what they did after leaving the game.

While Quinton McCracken and Grant Balfour interested me from the onset, Hall of Name features 13 players affiliated with Tampa Bay, from those who originated in the area to those who played Major or Minor Baseball here to those who died here. As a matter of fact, the book's first three entries had significant Tampa Bay ties.

The Tampa Bay 13:

  • Boof Bonser - born in St. Petersburg in 1981
  • Callix Crabbe - played college baseball in Sarasota in 2002
  • Coco Crisp - fought Rays pitcher James Shields in 2008
  • Gregg Legg - Clearwater Phillies hitting coach 1994-1995
  • Gowell Claset - died in St. Petersburg in 1981
  • Lastings Milledge - born in Bradenton in 1985
  • Quinton McCracken - played for the Devil Rays in 1998-2000
  • Pete LaCock - played for the St. Pete Pelicans of the Senior Professional League in 1989
  • Razor Shines - managed the Clearwater Threshers in 2008
  • Grant Balfour - pitched the Rays 2008-2010, 2014-2015
  • Chone Figgins - played for Brandon High School in 1997
  • Mark Lemongello - arrested for kidnapping and armed robbery in St. Petersburg in 1982
  • Johnny Nee - died in St. Petersburg in 1957

I was surprised so many of the players in the book had Tampa Bay ties, especially considering only two played for the region's Major League team. I was expecting them, and Milledge I knew was from the area. But the rest were a surprise, especially Lemongello's criminal escapade.

Overall, I recommend Hall of Name for anyone interested in baseball trivia and history. D.B. did an amazing amount of research, and it is a very fun read. As each profile is short, Hall of Name is the perfect book to read in short pieces, such as on a lunch break. Each profile is interesting and I think I learned more about the history of names from this book than I knew before. As I read, I couldn't help but admire D.B.'s ability to write seriously and (mostly) without judgement about these players' names. No name is disrespected, even if for Tony Suck "when it came to baseball, the name was totally apt".

Hopefully there will be sequel, one that perhaps dips into the Minor Leagues, Negro Leagues, or All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. I would love to read more about D.L. Rambo of the 1920 St. Petersburg Saints or Robert Orange of the 1969 Tampa Tarpons.

Click here to order Hall of Name: Baseball's Most Magnificent Monikers from 'The Only Nolan' to 'Van Lingle Mungo' and More from Amazon.

Or click here to buy Hall of Name: Baseball's Most Magnificent Monikers from 'The Only Nolan' to 'Van Lingle Mungo' and More from and raise money for local bookstores.

And I miraculously wrote this whole review without mentioning Rusty Kuntz.


Monday, June 8, 2020

The Green Fields of the Mind - a baseball fan must-read

As a die-hard baseball fan, I have always tried to stay true to two traditions: the first, read a baseball book as the season opens and second, read the first paragraph of A. Bartlett Giamatti's "The Green Fields of the Mind" at the season's end. This season I looked up Giamatti's essay and read it in it's entirety. Although the players have long since past from the game, the feeling remains, and few writers, if any, have expressed the passion of a baseball fan with more clarity.

Here is "The Green Fields of the Mind" in its entirety 
(acquired from

"The Green Fields of the Mind "

It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops. Today, October 2, a Sunday of rain and broken branches and leaf-clogged drains and slick streets, it stopped, and summer was gone.

Somehow, the summer seemed to slip by faster this time. Maybe it wasn't this summer, but all the summers that, in this my fortieth summer, slipped by so fast. There comes a time when every summer will have something of autumn about it. Whatever the reason, it seemed to me that I was investing more and more in baseball, making the game do more of the work that keeps time fat and slow and lazy. I was counting on the game's deep patterns, three strikes, three outs, three times three innings, and its deepest impulse, to go out and back, to leave and to return home, to set the order of the day and to organize the daylight. I wrote a few things this last summer, this summer that did not last, nothing grand but some things, and yet that work was just camouflage. The real activity was done with the radio--not the all-seeing, all-falsifying television--and was the playing of the game in the only place it will last, the enclosed green field of the mind. There, in that warm, bright place, what the old poet called Mutability does not so quickly come.

But out here, on Sunday, October 2, where it rains all day, Dame Mutability never loses. She was in the crowd at Fenway yesterday, a gray day full of bluster and contradiction, when the Red Sox came up in the last of the ninth trailing Baltimore 8-5, while the Yankees, rain-delayed against Detroit, only needing to win one or have Boston lose one to win it all, sat in New York washing down cold cuts with beer and watching the Boston game. Boston had won two, the Yankees had lost two, and suddenly it seemed as if the whole season might go to the last day, or beyond, except here was Boston losing 8-5, while New York sat in its family room and put its feet up. Lynn, both ankles hurting now as they had in July, hits a single down the right-field line. The crowd stirs. It is on its feet. Hobson, third baseman, former Bear Bryant quarterback, strong, quiet, over 100 RBIs, goes for three breaking balls and is out. The goddess smiles and encourages her agent, a canny journeyman named Nelson Briles.

Now comes a pinch hitter, Bernie Carbo, onetime Rookie of the Year, erratic, quick, a shade too handsome, so laid-back he is always, in his soul, stretched out in the tall grass, one arm under his head, watching the clouds and laughing; now he looks over some low stuff unworthy of him and then, uncoiling, sends one out, straight on a rising line, over the center-field wall, no cheap Fenway shot, but all of it, the physics as elegant as the arc the ball describes.

New England is on its feet, roaring. The summer will not pass. Roaring, they recall the evening, late and cold, in 1975, the sixth game of the World Series, perhaps the greatest baseball game played in the last fifty years, when Carbo, loose and easy, had uncoiled to tie the game that Fisk would win. It is 8-7, one out, and school will never start, rain will never come, sun will warm the back of your neck forever. Now Bailey, picked up from the National League recently, big arms, heavy gut, experienced, new to the league and the club; he fouls off two and then, checking, tentative, a big man off balance, he pops a soft liner to the first baseman. It is suddenly darker and later, and the announcer doing the game coast to coast, a New Yorker who works for a New York television station, sounds relieved. His little world, well-lit, hot-combed, split-second-timed, had no capacity to absorb this much gritty, grainy, contrary reality.

Cox swings a bat, stretches his long arms, bends his back, the rookie from Pawtucket who broke in two weeks earlier with a record six straight hits, the kid drafted ahead of Fred Lynn, rangy, smooth, cool. The count runs two and two, Briles is cagey, nothing too good, and Cox swings, the ball beginning toward the mound and then, in a jaunty, wayward dance, skipping past Briles, feinting to the right, skimming the last of the grass, finding the dirt, moving now like some small, purposeful marine creature negotiating the green deep, easily avoiding the jagged rock of second base, traveling steady and straight now out into the dark, silent recesses of center field.

The aisles are jammed, the place is on its feet, the wrappers, the programs, the Coke cups and peanut shells, the doctrines of an afternoon; the anxieties, the things that have to be done tomorrow, the regrets about yesterday, the accumulation of a summer: all forgotten, while hope, the anchor, bites and takes hold where a moment before it seemed we would be swept out with the tide. Rice is up. Rice whom Aaron had said was the only one he'd seen with the ability to break his records. Rice the best clutch hitter on the club, with the best slugging percentage in the league. Rice, so quick and strong he once checked his swing halfway through and snapped the bat in two. Rice the Hammer of God sent to scourge the Yankees, the sound was overwhelming, fathers pounded their sons on the back, cars pulled off the road, households froze, New England exulted in its blessedness, and roared its thanks for all good things, for Rice and for a summer stretching halfway through October. Briles threw, Rice swung, and it was over. One pitch, a fly to center, and it stopped. Summer died in New England and like rain sliding off a roof, the crowd slipped out of Fenway, quickly, with only a steady murmur of concern for the drive ahead remaining of the roar. Mutability had turned the seasons and translated hope to memory once again. And, once again, she had used baseball, our best invention to stay change, to bring change on.

That is why it breaks my heart, that game--not because in New York they could win because Boston lost; in that, there is a rough justice, and a reminder to the Yankees of how slight and fragile are the circumstances that exalt one group of human beings over another. It breaks my heart because it was meant to, because it was meant to foster in me again the illusion that there was something abiding, some pattern and some impulse that could come together to make a reality that would resist the corrosion; and because, after it had fostered again that most hungered-for illusion, the game was meant to stop, and betray precisely what it promised.

Of course, there are those who learn after the first few times. They grow out of sports. And there are others who were born with the wisdom to know that nothing lasts. These are the truly tough among us, the ones who can live without illusion, or without even the hope of illusion. I am not that grown-up or up-to-date. I am a simpler creature, tied to more primitive patterns and cycles. I need to think something lasts forever, and it might as well be that state of being that is a game; it might as well be that, in a green field, in the sun.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Delusionally Doubling Down on the Montreal Plan

Over the last few days, the Tampa Bay Rays front office have released several quotes advocating their "Sister City" plan to divide Major League Baseball between Tampa Bay and Montreal.

It is a stupid, stupid, stupid plan made by a greedy billionaire designed to rip the heart out of the fanbase and prepare them to lose the team forever.

As I have written several times, I disagree with this plan. I have also been on ABC Action News twice discussing my opposition.

From a business perspective, former Wall Street investor Stu Sternberg is attempting to diversify his assets. He figures if he and his Montreal business partners each have to invest less in smaller stadiums in two markets, there is less total financial commitment while receiving increased stadium attendance bumps in two cities. By going international, he also hedges against a US economic decline. There has been much talk that the US economy will eventually recede, and when it does Sternberg will have Canada to buoy his investment.

Stu Sternberg is not increasing his gains enough here in Tampa Bay. Despite franchise value gains of 27% in 2017, 9% in 2018, 12% in 2019 according to Forbes, that is not enough for his Wall Street wallet. He wants to better maximize his investments. This isn't about emotions or people. It is about dollars and gains.

He invests less, makes more, and is covered against a market tightening. What is there not to like from the perspective of a Wall Street investor?

If one billionaire can do it, can others? Where does this split-city plan stop? In his interview with WDAE at Rays Fan Fest, Sternberg mentioned that MLB did not consider Montreal a full-time MLB market. That is the first I have heard that said, and it should be a big deal.

Consider this: Montreal is a city of 4 million people. In 2015, Montreal had a GDP of $193 billion dollars (Tampa Bay had $118 billion). From 1979 to 1983, the Expos were in the top 5 in attendance in the National League. Montreal is a legit city with an international economy and baseball pedigree.

If they don't reach the level of full-time market, who else doesn't? Does Pittsburgh? Milwaukee? Cincinnati? Cleveland? What is the threshold? Because if owners follow the Rays lead and start splitting seasons throughout MLB, the only teams that will be in their cities full-time will be in the mega markets of New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

Would the Pirates consider moving half their season to Nashville? What about the Indians playing half their games in San Antonio? Could the A's play half their games in Portland? Maybe the Marlins split half their games between Miami and Las Vegas.

Where does this end? What is the threshold of a Major League market if neither Tampa Bay nor Montreal make the cut?

By the way, Tampa Bay is a robust enough market for four Minor League Baseball teams, four Spring Training teams, an NFL team, and NHL team, a major college program, and an XFL team. Montreal has excess economic capacity as it only hosts the Montreal Canadiens and the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League (CFL). But apparently, that is not a enough for a full-time market to Major League Baseball.

Another fallacy in the Sister City argument is that demand is driven by availability. Stu Sternberg and the Rays front office believe they can get the same attendance of 1 million plus fans to Tropicana Field in April, May, and June that they get from April to September because the supply of games is smaller.

There are many reasons why this reduced-supply increased-demand concept isn't realistic.

For one, the Rays will still face an abundance of regional sports competition. If they play in Tampa Bay in the spring, they face competition from four Minor League Baseball teams, the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the new XFL Vipers. As well, many local fans have just spent their money on Spring Training.

Second, traditionally the Rays struggle to draw in the early months of the season, especially in May. May is typically their worst month of the season. People are not yet fully engaged in baseball in May. How do you expect the same type of fanbase excitement in the first half of the season versus the second half? In the first half, teams are still figuring out who they are. There is a saying that baseball teams don't really know what they have until the 1/3 point (54 games) in the season. Will they be contenders? Will they be also-rans? If the Rays play the first three months of the season in Tampa Bay, Tampa Bay will never again experience a pennant race in person.

Third, Stu Sternberg believes the Rays will draw a million people in three months with half a schedule - and maybe less than half the games against the Yankees, Red Sox, and other teams that draw opposing fans. Typically, the Rays play 9 home games each versus the Red Sox and Yankees. What if all 9 games are after June? What if only 3 games versus each are while the Rays are in the bay area? Then the fans in Montreal get to see the Rays top rivals and the fans of Tampa Bay area left with the less appealing part of the schedule.

The Rays cannot expect Major League Baseball to cater the schedule to them and provide them a 50/50 split in opponents for each fan base. And what about interleague rotational games? Fans in Tampa Bay may never get to see players from an interleague team such as the Marlins, Mets, or Cubs play the Rays if those games are always scheduled in the second half of the season.

Fourth and lastly, it is easy to imagine that this arrangement pitting fans and officials of both cities against each other as they will compare and contrast attendance as a measure of what fanbase supports the team more. If Tampa Bay draws less against the Yankees in April (as the Lightning are simultaneously in the playoffs) than Montreal does in September, Tampa Bay fans will probably get mocked. There will be non-stop comparisons as to which city is a better host in the media. Sternberg won't feel this competition as he makes money either way, but the fans and the cities will.

The sister city plan assumes these are loving, cooperating siblings, not competitive, bitter, catty siblings. And if the Montreal team is already saying Montreal is a better city than St. Petersburg, what will they say if the Montreal side of attendance exceeds the Tampa Bay side?

Then again, Sternberg might be the kind of parent who enjoys seeing siblings compete. But the side that has their team ripped from them will not take well to another city saying they are better hosts. There is already a malaise around the Rays. Hearing Montreal boast about being better hosts will only further turn Tampa Bay fans off to the franchise and the arrangement.

Lastly, a huge obstacle to the Rays success in Tampa Bay has always been the presence of the New York Yankees. What if the Rays said they were willing to stay full-time if the city cut their lease with the Yankees? Then Steinbrenner Field could be turned into a larger stadium in a centralized location. The Yankees have enough money to build a new spring training stadium anywhere in the world. The Rays know this, the Yankees know this, the City of Tampa knows this.

But challenging Steinbrenner presence in Tampa is either taboo, forbidden, or never mentioned in public, even though the Yankees have only been playing in Tampa two years more than the Rays have been playing in St Petersburg (1996 to 1998). The City of Tampa loves the Yankees.

By the way, if you haven't read the parody site Tampa News Force article entitled "Tampa Bay Vipers thankful to finally have sports spotlight to themselves", I highly recommended it. It is as much a commentary on the Vipers competition as it is the Rays local competition.
“Spring training starts in a couple of weeks, too”, he continued, as sweat formed on his brow. “I forgot about that. Sure, the Rays train way down in Port Charlotte but three teams, including the New York Yankees, possibly the most prolific and beloved franchises in sports history are right here for over a month, smack in the middle of our season.” He stopped, drew a deep breath and sighed, “The New York Yankees. Not the San Diego Padres or some other godforsaken franchise no one cares about, just the Notre Dame of Major League Baseball, that’s all.”