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Rob Manfred is meeting Donald Trump today

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Since the election, a parade of folks have made their way in and out of Trump tower to meet with our next president. Some are job seekers, some are favor-curryers and some are simply goofing around. I’m going to leave it to you to figure out what category Rob Manfred falls into:

Baseball has all manner of political concerns, even if you choose to ignore them while yelling “stick to baseball” at those of us who do not. MLB has its own lobbying outfit, it has deep interest in all manner of legislation, it is subject to special treatment under federal law which it desperately wants to protect and, of course, baseball teams are owned by a bunch of billionaires and billionaires ALWAYS have a seat at the table of power, whether we like it or not. Manfred is the billionaire’s public face, so it’s natural that he’s going to meet with the new president.

Trump himself has shown an interest in baseball. He played when he was young. He  feuded with Cubs ownership last year, when the politically active Ricketts family donated money to other candidates. He then hired part of Cubs ownership, younger brother Todd Ricketts, who will likely be the next deputy commerce secretary, in part I assume because the Ricketts later changed course and donated to Trump. There was the time Trump tried to buy the Cleveland Indians, which he almost certainly wanted to move to Tampa, but that fell through. I doubt even he holds grudges that long, and most of the people involved in that are dead now, so I don’t guess Manfred is there to make amends.

Either way,  later, when the photos of Manfred walking into Trump Tower hit the wire, save one. And then look at it the next time you feel like yelling at someone to keep politics out of baseball. Because baseball is not interested in keeping politics out of baseball or baseball out of politics. Why should anyone else?

UPDATE: From the pool reporter at Trump Tower:

At 11:49 am, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke to the pool, very briefly:

“I had a really nice meeting with the President-elect. He explained to me his history with the game and what a great baseball fan he is, and we are glad that we had an opportunity to get together before his inauguration.”

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.