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.

Please trade Manny Machado already, will ya?

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Manny Machado has been on the trading block for some time now, and he’s obviously a highly sought-after player who will command a nice haul for the Orioles if and when they deal him. Until they do that, however, let us talk for a moment about how to read a given trade rumor that gets tweeted or reported out into the ether.

Let’s look at the latest one, shall we? It goes like this:

At the outset, let me be clear about something: I do not doubt this reporting. Heyman is well-sourced, and I’m sure he’s hearing this exact thing. But so too are other reporters reporting other things, such as a rumor that floated around yesterday that the Phillies were in the lead. And so too are the guys who, several days ago, reported that a Machado trade was “on the 10 yard line.” Yesterday some random person on Twitter, claiming they had inside info, reached out to me to tell me that the O’s and the Phillies had a “handshake deal” in place (which sounded totally bogus, BTW). It’s all so imminent and urgent-sounding.

It’s urgent-sounding not because fast-paced and urgent activity is happening. Some GMs are texting one another, just like they always do. Some are making offers and waiting to hear from the Orioles, some are getting counters from the Orioles and are considering them. The GMs of two teams competing for Machado are not, themselves, in communication. In that respect it is decidedly not like a horse race or a football game.

The Orioles want it to be one, though, and make no mistake, that’s where these rumors are coming from.

The Orioles have a vested interest in the Dodgers, Brewers and Phillies upping their bids to beat out the other suitors, and it’s hard not to see all of these reports as stuff the Orioles are telling reporters in order to get the other clubs to think they’re going to miss out. It’s the Orioles and the Orioles alone who have a vested interest in this appearing more like a horse race — or a football game — and thus are cultivating horse race coverage. Whether it’s coordinated or whether it’s just random people in Baltimore telling what they know to reporters I have no idea, but that’s what this is.

That’s interesting to me as a media guy, and I guess it’s interesting to fans of the teams involved, but it’s probably good to remember that it’s less baseball news, proper, than it is a team using the media to get leverage.