Remember last week how the Mayor of St. Petereburg was reported to have some mysterious plan to save the Rays and keep them in town? It was all rather strange, actually, with the mayor playing it close to the vest as if he was guarding the schematics of nuclear warheads or something. I was excited!
Well, so much for that. Today, in an editorial, he has released his plan. The short version: “we’re gonna make sure the Rays honor their lease and, if they don’t, we’re gonna make someone reimburse us for it. If they do stay, though, we’re gonna help ’em advertise!” It was filled out with hundreds of empty politician words about “strategic partners” and cooperation between the public-private sectors and blah, blah, blah that stuff is so weightless it ought to be bottled and used to fill balloons at a used car lot.
There’s no plan there. There’s a politician telling voters that he’s not going to give up several million bucks on the next 16 years of the Rays’ lease on Tropicana Field and a lot of rah-rah, it-won’t-be-so-bad rebop.
If I’m the Rays I start doing everything I can to trick the city into defaulting on its obligations under the lease somehow, skip town and then hope I can win the ensuing litigation. Cynical? Sure. But it’s a better thought-out plan than the Mayor of St. Petersburg just trotted out.
Back during the 2015 playoffs the sorts of New York media types who love to find reasons to criticize players for petty reasons decided to criticize Yoenis Cespedes for playing golf the day of a playoff game. The Mets won the series with the Cubs during which the controversy, such as it was, occurred and it was soon dropped.
It was picked back up again in 2016 when Cespedes, while on the disabled list with a strained quad, was seen playing golf. Despite the fact that everyone involved said that golf did not contribute to his injury and that golf would have no impact on his injured quad, it was deemed “a bad look” by a columnist looking to get some mileage out of bashing Cespedes for having a hobby that probably half of all ballplayers share. They did it when he showed off his fancy cars too, by the way, even though just about every ballplayer has a fancy car or three. When you’re a superstar in New York — especially when you’re one with whom the media is not particularly close for various reasons — you’re going to catch hell for seemingly nothing.
Now there’s a new twist to the Cespedes golf saga. Yoenis himself says that his poor start — he’s hitting .195/.258/.354 and leads the league in strikeouts — is due to . . . not enough golf! From the New York Times:
He gave a possible reason for the poor start this weekend: not playing enough golf, a hobby beloved by many baseball players. And, yes, he is serious.
“In previous seasons, one of the things I did when I wasn’t going well was to play golf,” he said after a game on Friday in which he struck out four times but still drove in the go-ahead run in the 12th inning. “This year, I’m not playing golf.”
The story says Cespedes quit golf last summer because he worried that it was contributing to hamstring problems. He’s thinking about going back to it soon, as he thinks it’ll help his swing. Given that he’ll catch hell either way, he may as well do what he wants.