Former Village People lead singer planning to sue Rays

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Victor Willis, who was the lead singer (and cop) in the Village People before leaving the group in 1984, announced yesterday that he plans to sue the Tampa Bay Rays “within the next 30 days.”

Willis is upset because in promoting a Village People concert at Tropicana Field last August the Rays used some video footage from 1978, when he was still in the band, and he feels that misled fans.

Willis is now 58 years old and apparently a recluse, so his publicist explained:

His voice is very distinctive. People know that song. They get excited, thinking he is going to be there. What we would like ideally from the Rays is to ask them to apologize and give us assurances that they won’t do that again.

That certainly seems reasonable enough, although you’d think the Rays would probably have agreed to that without Willis going public with his plans to sue. Stephen Nohlgren of the St. Petersburg Times notes that lawsuit or not Willis doesn’t really need any of the Rays’ money, as “‘YMCA’ alone earns him more than $1 million a year in songwriting royalties.” Incidentally, that’s more than all but nine of the Rays’ players are earning this season.

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.