Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa teams dedicate funds for Confederate monument removal

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TAMPA, Fla. (AP) The three major professional sports teams based in the Tampa Bay area say they have “dedicated funds” to help remove a Confederate monument from the city.

The NFL’s Buccaneers, NHL’s Lightning and Rays of Major League Baseball issued a joint statement Thursday saying they’re working with the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce because they’re “recognizing that this monument does not reflect the values of our community.”

The teams did not disclose how much money they would dedicate.

Former Buccaneers coach Tony Dungy tweeted that he would donate $5,000 to help move the statue from its spot in downtown Tampa.

The teams’ announcement came a day after commissioners, in a divisive 4-2 vote, gave fundraisers 30 days to collect $140,000, about half of what’s needed to relocate the monument.

Joey Votto: “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently.”

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We’ve poked fun often at the spring training trope of players showing up to camp in the “best shape of [their] life.” Reds first baseman Joey Votto has turned that entirely on its head. Talking about his offseason, the 2010 NL MVP said, “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently. We did all the testing and I am fatter,” Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto, of course, wasn’t trying to say he’s not in shape; he was just using some of his trademark self-deprecating humor.

Votto did get serious when discussing the state of the rebuilding Reds. As Buchanan also reported, Votto said, “I think we’re starting to get to the point where people are starting to get tired of this stretch of ball. I think something needs to start changing and start going in a different direction. I’m going to do my part to help make that change.”

Votto, 34, is under contract with the Reds through at least 2023, so he still has plenty of incentive to help see the rebuild through. He has been nothing short of stellar over the last three seasons. This past season, he hit .320/.454/.578 with 36 home runs, 100 RBI, and 106 runs scored in 707 appearances across all 162 games. Votto led the majors in walks (134) and on-base percentage and led the National League in OPS (1.032).

Despite Votto’s presence, both FanGraphs and PECOTA are projecting the Reds to put up a 74-88 record. The club had a pretty quiet offseason, expecting to enter 2018 with largely the same roster as last year.