The McCourts may settle soon. And then Frank would have to deal with Bud Selig

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Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times reports that Frank and Jamie McCourt may settle soon. That’s the good news. The bad news — or, at the very least, the uncertain news — is that the settlement may once again involve a scenario in which part of the payoff to Jamie comes in exchange for Frank making a new deal with FOX for the team’s broadcasting rights. This could be a problem.

Why? Because last time that came up, Bud Selig rejected the notion. The reason, it seems, was because the deal apparently had FOX lending McCourt money in exchange for a discounted broadcast rate.  This new deal, Shaikin reports, would be a bigger, longer broadcast deal — Shaikin says $3 billion over 20 years — that more closely reflects the market rate for Dodgers telecasts.

Yet, Shaikin says, it’s not certain that Selig would approve the deal. And indeed, he could again reject it, possibly with the intent of squeezing McCourt out. And if that happens many in the game think that McCourt would sue Selig, which would be seventeen kinds of ugly.

It seems to me that it could be more than wanting to squeeze McCourt out that would animate Selig to reject the deal. Rather, it could be that baseball would really, really like a marquee team in a major market to do what the Yankees, Sox and Mets have done and form its own cable network someday. If FOX had long term rights, that couldn’t happen.  We haven’t seen that level of meddling in TV deals by the commissioner’s office before, however, so maybe that’s just too pie-in-the sky.

Either way, it seems that the endgame is near. Or, if Selig decides to get tough, the end of the first chapter of an even longer game is near.

Rob Manfred says Tampa Bay must pick up pace on new stadium

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred wants Tampa Bay to work a little quicker on getting the Rays a new ballpark.

Rays Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg has been working for nearly a decade to get a new stadium for the club and signed a three-year agreement with the City of St. Petersburg early in 2016 to search for a site in the Tampa Bay area. Manfred wants that search to pick up some steam.

“I think it’s fair to say we want the process to take on a better pace moving forward,” Manfred said Wednesday night at Tropicana Field, home of the Rays since their first season in 1998.

The Rays were averaging 15,815 fans per game before Wednesday night’s contest against the Toronto Blue Jays. That is just over half the major league average of 30,470. Tropicana Field and its location have been almost universally blamed as the reason for the poor attendance.

“I’ve been pretty clear that they need a new facility here, a major league quality facility in an A-plus location,” Manfred said. “It is time to move that decision to the front burner here in Tampa.”

The matter of how a stadium would be financed has been tabled until a site is determined, but Sternberg continued to express confidence in the Tampa Bay market.

“I’ve had the opportunity to bail on it many times over the years,” he said. “I won’t say this is a slam dunk, it’s certainly not. But I think we can do something that’ll at least double our attendance. That’s a lot to ask for.”

Manfred said Major League Baseball “doesn’t have a firm timetable” for what steps to take if the Rays fail to get an agreement to build a new stadium in the Tampa Bay area, but but added that “it is a topic of discussion in the industry, the lack of progress.”

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Robinson Cano leaves game with hamstring tightness

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Bad news for the Mariners this evening: Robinson Cano left Seattle’s game against the Atlanta Braves with tightness in his left hamstring.

Cano walked off the field after legging out a double — his second of the game — in the third inning. He pulled up as he approached second base and walked off the field, accompanied by a trainer. There was no immediate word on the severity of the injury. The Mariners have a day off Thursday before opening a series at the Yankees on Friday night, so they have some time to evaluate him.

Cano is hitting .277/.377/.460 with 19 homers and 78 RBI on the year.