Earlier this week we wrote about this long shot bill to allow the Tampa Bay Rays to look outside of St. Petersburg for potential stadium cites. Well, forget it:
A proposal to let the Tampa Bay Rays examine stadium sites in Hillsborough County went nowhere Thursday. St. Petersburg City Council members even rejected a motion to have their attorney evaluate the proposal’s legal implications.
There is basically zero incentive for the city to give anything to the Rays, so it’s probably not too surprising.
The article goes on to report that Rays owner Stuart Sternberg will possibly speak to the St. Pete council soon. When he spoke to other regional bodies recently he went on about how Major League Baseball finds the Rays’ situation untenable and may contract them or something. I hope someone on the council grills Sternberg on this and reveals just how empty a threat it is.*
UPDATE: That last sentence was probably unfair. I looked back at the historical back and forth about the Rays stadium situation. While many people have thrown contraction out there as a possibility — and while I continue to believe that such a possibility is ludicrous given the logistics that would be involved in contraction — Sternberg himself has not threatened contraction. He has noted MLB’s lack of confidence in St. Petereburg as a baseball market and, when pressed, once said that the franchise could be “vaporized,” but he has never used the threat of contraction when talking to St. Petereburg, Hillsborough County or other players in the game down there.
Infielder Javier Baez is back in camp with the Cubs after helping Puerto Rico to a second-place finish in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was the focal point of what was, to many, the most memorable play of the entire tournament: Baez pointed at catcher Yadier Molina, who was attempting to throw out a would-be base-stealer, before applying the tag for the final out of the eighth inning.
While Baez didn’t receive much criticism for his theatrics, aside from an insignificant handful of spoilsports, he is one of the players who most exemplifies the emotional, celebratory culture that foreign players bring to Major League Baseball. U.S. (and Tigers) second baseman Ian Kinsler is on the other side of that spectrum, as he said prior to the WBC final that he hopes kids mimic the solemn way U.S. players play the game rather than the emotional, passionate way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play the game.
Baez isn’t about to apologize for the way he and his teammates play the game. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, Baez said, “We do a great job playing and having fun out there. That’s what it’s all about. This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it. but, you know, everybody’s got their style and their talent. I have a lot of fun.”
He continued, “It’s their choice to look at how we play, how excited we get. To us, it’s really huge what we did, even though we didn’t win. All of Puerto Rico got really together. We were going through a hard time over there and everything got fixed up for at least three weeks. Hopefully, they keep it like that.”
Angels outfielder Mike Trout came up with an idea that would allow less experienced umpires an opportunity to call some major league spring training action. As ESPN’s Buster Olney reports, Trout thinks the veteran umpires should only call five or six innings as they get back into regular season shape. The rest of the innings could be called by minor league umpires.
According to Olney, baseball officials loved Trout’s idea when they heard about it last week. One official said, “It makes a lot of sense for a lot of different reasons.” Another said, “That’s Trout — he’s always paying attention to stuff beyond what he’s doing.”
Of course, I have to agree that the suggestion is a great one. As Olney notes, the turnover rate for umpires every year is relatively low, so younger, less-experienced umpires have few opportunities to get a feel for what it’s like calling major league action. Even beyond the actual interpretation of the rules, interacting with big league personalities would also be helpful for minor league umpires.