The Rays have “said almost nothing” about their stadium situation? Really?

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Here’s MLB.com’s Richard Justice in an article about the Tampa Bay Rays, just published a few minutes ago:

It’s impossible not to admire how the Tampa Bay Rays are handling their stadium situation. They’ve said almost nothing publicly, taking the high road and letting the politicians do the talking.

Yes, the Rays have said almost nothing about their stadium situation and how it puts them at a financial disadvantage. The have said almost nothing. Except, you know, for when they have.

Here was Rays’ owner Stuart Sternberg in mid-October:

“… eventually Major League Baseball is going to vaporize this team. It could go on nine, 10, 12 more years, but between now and then it’s going to vaporize this team. Maybe a check gets written locally, maybe someone writes me a check (to buy the team). If I had $80 million to put out there, we’d be moving along in life.”

Here was Sternberg a week before that:

“I am frustrated this year. We’ve replicated last year [on the field] and our attendance numbers were down 15 percent and our ratings were down. The rubber has got to meet the road at some point here … Whatever you want to say, there are 29 other teams passing us like we’re going in reverse right now. Except on the field. And at some point that changes.”

Here was Sternberg last June, talking about how the fans won’t come to his park:

“Water is a big divide …  You know, we’ve learned really lots about what — I would say — (are) the driving habits of people. And their … ability to sort of navigate bridges.”

Then there was that time in June 2010 Sternberg said that the ballpark was “not viable,” and said that the team should be courted by the bay area as if they were a team from out of town looking to move in:

“If we weren’t here, how would people treat us?” Sternberg said wistfully. “I think that’s how I’d like to see this community react. If we weren’t here, I think it would take a regional effort to get us here.”

Then there was that time that Evan Longoria complained about how no one wants to go to their ballpark.

Hey, I’d complain too! It kind of stinks being the Rays, having a great team and having to play in a crap ballpark that no one wants to go to.

But let’s not pretend that they’ve said “almost nothing” about it, always taking the high road and never getting involved in the politics of it all.  They’ve been agitating about it for years.

Matt Carpenter hit a standup bunt double

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The wave of defensive shifts we’ve seen over the past few years has led to a lot of armchair hitting coaches demanding that players bunt to beat it. This is easier said than done, however.

The shift happens because certain hitters tend to pull the ball. Certain hitters tend to pull the ball because pulling the ball is what happens when one gets a strong, quick swing on a pitch one identifies early and which one endeavors to send as far away from home plate as possible. Which is to say that pulling is a skill that is good to have and which is strongly selected for among hitters.

In light of that, “why not just bunt to beat the shift” takes are kind of lazy. Bunting is hard! And it is not a thing guys who get shifted a lot are good at. Most of the time asking a player to do a thing he is not well-equipped to do is a bad idea. Indeed, a hitter voluntarily going away from his strength is something the defense would much prefer.

Most of the time anyway.

Last night Matt Carpenter made those armchair hitting coaches happy by laying down a bunt to beat the shift. And he laid it down so well that he ended up with a standup double:

One batter later Carpenter scored on a Starlin Castro error.

The shift giveth and the shift taketh away.