A warming reminder in the winter chill of the moment
As an Arctic blast shows the bulk of the North American continent that Winter is in full effect…
…Oitchers and catchers are die to reoirt to their respective facilities in Arizona and Florida in just-less than a month to commence the annual rite of Spring Training.
The Designated Hitter Debate and My Premier as a Cited Source in Sports
Baseball was my introduction to sports as it is and has been for so many Americans. It was also how I first had remarked in a national media publication.
I have grown away from the game for multiple reasons which I’ll spare you. Nevertheless, I’m a National League fan…and don’t like the designated hitter. That hasn’t changed after 23 years in an American League market.
I went so far with my DH disgust as to run a petition website for a few years – Abolish the Designated Hitter from Major League Baseball. That obviously went nowhere.
I don’t remember when I shuttered that site, but before that happened I had a reporter from USA Today contact me, looking for DH remarks, The article wouldn’t run until the Sydney Olympics in la the late baseball season…
So… I did an email exchange and that satisfied the writer. I had no clue as to how my words would be presented.
Right next to one of MLB’s best managers and a part of one of the motor memorable monologues by a major film actor.. How about that.?
“I think there should be the same rule for both (leagues), and I’d vote for cutting the DH. … I think you see more of the total game (in the NL). There are a lot of parts of the game that are really beautiful that you don’t see that often in the AL … a lot of the offensive and defensive things you use to make or stop a single run.”
— Tony La Russa, manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, who managed Oakland and the Chicago White Sox in the AL.
“I personally am tired of the game being stacked in the batter’s favor. With expansion having diluted pitching talent around the game, you’ve seen run production increase to levels that went through the roof. … (Also), it really gets rid of one of the challenges of baseball — managing the roster during a game. …
“(In the Braves-Mets playoffs of 1999) you saw a chess match between Bobby Cox and Bobby Valentine as they had to manage their batting orders and pitching staffs along with bench players to keep competing. It was artwork and a prime example of how the sport can be a head game.”
— John Fontana, 24, of Palm Harbor, Fla., who has run an anti-DH Web site for five years. (http://abolishthedh.stonegauge.com)Renewing the DH debate, USA Today, 09.06.2004
“Well, I believe in the soul … the small of a woman’s back, the hanging curveball, high fiber, good Scotch. That the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent, overrated crap. I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter.”— Crash Davis, fictional minor leaguer played by Kevin Costner in Ron Shelton’s classic baseball movie, Bull Durham.
My remarks may only bring disagreement, but the fact here is holy shit I’ve been quoted for hockey many times since and in many media publications, but my words were never aligned with sport and pop culture might like this. And likely never will be again.
One dedicated fan reacts to the Tampa Bay Rays balk
On Twitter, I just promoted an article headline at the Tampa Bay Times that says the July 1st – 3rd games at Tropicana Field will have $2 tickets available. This comes hours after news of the Rays sending out an email to fans about how desperately the club wants to stay in Tampa Bay.,
Both gestures are face-saving, damage-control tactics. The former coincides with the club’s general marketing failure when it comes to costs of attending games at Tropicana Field and issues attendees have which are in the Rays control to improve. The latter coincides rhetoric of Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg from Wednesday as well as the club’s forced-rush “negotiating” tactic failure with the city of Tampa and Hillsborough County on a proposed ballpark in Ybor City.
The words of value here are not from the articles cited above but from a Twitter response when I published the news of the Rays ticket-price plan. It’s a reactive response to where the Rays have put themselves in the last seven days with thanks to seeking and gaining exploration permission on playing home games in both St. Petersburg and Montréal, Quebec:
This is one fan’s reaction. This does not state how the fans of the Tampa Bay metroplex react in general, but it shows cause and effect. Action, reaction.
The actions and choices of the Rays brass speak volumes while a marketing tactic and a damage control emails are close to mute in this season of #Raysfall — a summer where the team has on-field competitiveness while those in control of the franchise are seeking maximum profit at minimum investment or tact, sullying franchise and market value in the process.
Population, percentages, and the lackluster Tropicana Field draw
The greater Tampa Bay metro area has a population in the millions. While the next US Census, to be conducted in 2020, may bring solid, true numbers, a simple Google Search gives you the picture in a round-about way: 2.783 million. That statistically estimate of the population of Clearwater, Tampa, St. Petersburg, New Port Richey and all the burgs of Tampa Bay combined is from 2010 but it gives you an idea there are plenty of people in the Bay area.
Now let’s go back to a simple question that I posted on social media and this blog last week, very simple but it will illustrate a point of issue that is not talked about plain-jane by politicians or media: What is keeping you from Tropicana Field?
Yesterday, June 1st, 2019, the Tampa Bay Rays played the Minnesota Twins at the Trop and drew a heady (sic) 14,381 to the Saturday afternoon game. The Tampa Bay Rays are in 2nd place in the American League East, they’ve got a .625 win percentage, they’re producing competitive baseball, be it in wins or losses (they dropped Saturday’s game ) and they drew 14,381 to a facility with a maximum seating capacity of 42,735.Read More
A conversation that needs to be had with sports fans in Tampa Bay
The Tampa Bay area is a sports marketplace that entertains itself so often through sports competition and tends to produce athletes for multiple sports at all levels. We’re fans through and through though.
You would not think that’s the case with attendance at Tampa Bay Rays games at Tropicana Field this season, though… or last season. Or the year before.
There’s a conversation that has to be had here in the marketplace. It’s been sidestepped to create a shallow build-it-for-me, Tampa-vs-St. Petersburg factor that pits the market against itself.Read More
Philly’s Gritty monstrosity – A fitting declaration for a weak mascot
Mascots and pro sports are a way to rile up the fans in a good way, a caricature personality that associates with a sports team. Some of those mascots are fitting-yet-playful parody characters who embody the franchise, like Roary the Lion with the Detroit Lions of the NFL, Osceola (and his steed, Renegade) with the Florida State University Seminoles. Others are a more playful association, like Mr. Met for the New York Mets or ThunderBug with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
And then there’s what the Philadelphia Flyers unveiled today:
Now, I’m not a Philadelphia sports fan and never have been, I still take the Flyers franchise as a rival to the Tampa Bay Lightning (the Flyes were the Bolts first ever playoff opponent). I’ve never taken much to the 76’ers, or the Eagles, though the Phillies have earned a token appreciation simply by way of where they play spring training. All that said, nothing I’m about to say is intended to slight or put down Philly as a city or a sports town.
That said, what the ever loving hell?? Ugh! Read More
Florida’s Fox Sports Net stations are up for grabs
I could kvetch here about conglomerates and how mega companies merging – even entertainment companies – is not ideal in many ways, but I just shared my opinion of that and should move on to the point of this post…
Disney has acquired 21st Century Fox. No, not all holdings but tons of them in film and production. The one aspect that Tampa Bay Lightning, Tampa Bay Rays, Orlando Magic, Miami Heat and Florida Panthers fans need to be aware of and keep an eye out on is that the deal forces Disney to get rid of some of those holdings…Like Fox Sports Net’s 22 affiliate stations around the country.
This is where two plus two should have clicked and you gotten the idea that the Fox Sports Net stations in the Sunshine State are up for sale. How this will effect broadcasts now or after their acquisition is a puzzle.
It’s not just the who of acquisition that is a puzzle but what will happen that changes or shifts the networks? There’s no telling if everything remains regional alone or if broadcasts from other markets will be aired on the stations to fill air time… Then again, it might all remain status-quo with the stations re-dubbed as NBC Sports or Spectrum affiliates, or another party (Sportnet as an international sports network, perhaps, though law may prevent that).
Comcast and Spectrum are the two key players cited in this article about the situations. Comcast (the communication company that owns the National Broadcast Company and it’s co-branded affiliates such as NBC Sports and MSNBC among many others) or Charter Communications and the Spectrum network. Spctrum has become a player in Tampa Bay of recent as they’ve acquired cable holdings. They do own and operate sports stations elsewhere in the country as-is and do hsave an interest in expanding their holdings.
Broadcasting shouldn’t be affected really; if the sale of the affiliates does not happen by the end of September, the failure will be on the Fox acquisition by Disney. If and when affiliation changes happen though, it’s tough to gauge if and how things will eventually shift on both networks.
Regionalism versus myopia: The resumption of Hatfields versus McCoy in Tampa Bay sports
More than a year ago, I wrote about the issue with St. Petersburg and the Rays. The city’s logistical location at the southern tip of Pinellas County is a rather isolated locale for the greater Tampa Bay metro region. Of course, for residents of St. Petersburg, the issue is simply because Tampa gets the unfair advantage, it’s the difficult place of the region to travel to and … and… and…
And I’m hearing too much of this Hatfields vs. McCoy’s bullshit once again. A myopic mentality has come to light once again after the Rays unveiled their new stadium proposal in the Ybor City area of Tampa.
Remarking about the proposal before getting back to the topic of this blog post: An $892 million stadium, only seating between 28,000 and 30,000 was proposed with a translucent roof structure so natural grass can be used in an indoor ballpark. A very-much excessively priced structure with an experimental asset? If you’re a resident of Tampa, St. Petersburg, elsewhere in the region, or even in Montréal for that matter, you should take issue with this. This is Jeffrey Loria-like tactics being employed by Stuart Sternberg. Oh, there is something fitting here, that a small park in Ybor City would mix with the neighborhood a-la Wrigley Field in Chicago.
This isn’t a neighborhood baseball club though. This franchise is supposed to represent the Tampa Bay Metropolitan region. That stadium plan fails unless you’re going to utilize the We must or else! strategy that St. Pete utilized in the 1980s and resulted in the construction of the domed venue now known as Tropicana Field. Read More
A note on Tampa Bay sports and the playoffs
Though it literally does not play out like this:
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers make the playoffs on average less than once every four seasons of play. I’ve already pointed out the Bucs annual win percentage is abysmal and this just illustrates the club has only made the playoffs 10 times in 41 years of existence.
In contrast, the Tampa Bay Lightning makes the NHL playoffs once every two-and-a-half seasons or so… Well, that is if they make the playoffs this season and to say that’s highly likely is an understatement. As of this writing the Bolts have 94 points on the season and lead the league. If things stand pat and the Lightning make the playoffs, it’ll be the 10th time it’s been done in 25 years of existence and 24 seasons of play (remember the 2004-05 Nil season was entirely wiped out due to lockout).
I was simply going to share this among friends, hammering home the once-every-four-years vs. once-every-two-and-a-half stat but I felt like I’m being cruel to leave out the Tampa Bay Rays. This will be Tampa Bay’s Major League Baseball team’s 20th season of play (only 5 seasons younger than the Lightning) and it’s notable that the Rays post-season faring is more comparable to the Buccaneers than the Lightning: In 19 completed season of play, the Rays have only made the playoffs four times (2008, the team’s 10th anniversary season, was the first time the club ever went to the playoffs).
As awful as that looks, there’s a defense for the Rays compared to the Buccaneers or lightning for that matter: MLB’s playoff system is a much tighter beast than the NFL and NHL. The league only started using wild cards (single slots in each league) in 1994. It was expanded to two in 2012.
At any rate, unless the Lightning suffers a grand disaster of play to close the 2017-18 season (and there are only 16 games remaining for them), they’ll tie the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in all-time playoff berths. The Rays won’t be coming close anytime soon, if ever, with thanks in part going toward the differences in schedule and playoff formatting between the three pro sports leagues.
Isolation and the Tampa Bay Rays quest for a new stadium [UPDATED]
Insecure, narcissist and self indulgent. These words are commonly thrown toward current United States President Donald J. Trump (as they should be). Yet what’s inspiring these words at the moment is reflecting on a city; one town in a grander regional area that wants to be on top. It’s a town that wants prominence in the region through a national spotlight, even if that spotlight is dimmed by way of the city itself.
St. Petersburg, Florida’s population is almost 250,000, 16,000 more than Reno, Nevada (“America’s Biggest Little City”). It’s part of the grander Tampa Bay metroplex. Its quest to one-up Tampa (the larger city in the Bay area) was part of why the town constructed the venue known now as Tropicana Field. Never mind the fact there was no slated pro sports team to play within the building when construction was approved in the mid-1980s; St. Petersburg had to force the location if and when (if ever) Major League Baseball expanded or relocated to Tampa Bay.
Being a Tampa Bay resident for so long, having seen and experienced life with the Dome and St. Pete in general, I cringe and shake my head now. Topping another city to lock in control of a potential jewel only shows a lack of self awareness. St. Pete has one, basic fault that keeps it understated in a the wider region; a very simple fault that’s on display at Tampa Bay Rays games and which is why a new stadium is a hot point with the club and why relocation outside of the region is a possibility….
On Tampa Bay sports disappointment and media coverage
A disappointing season in sports – both professional and amateur — is just that, a disappointment, a downer. Things don’t go as planned and the results are lesser than you (as a fan) wish. It’s something that you can’t hold against a high school or college team while the pro sports competitive disappointments can be outright atrocities of a competitive kind, run asunder by a multitude of choices by management as well of incidents of both a competitive variety and by bad luck.
The 2016-17 Tampa Bay Lightning season is a disappointment of a competitive nature where bad luck (injuries) and a horrible schedule played part in the Bolts not roaring into a competitive, playoff-bound position that has become a constant the last three seasons. There was a noted attitude problem in the Lightning locker room, and once that was brought into check the team turned up its competitive vibe and is where it is now: Just outside the playoff bubble with a scant chance of making it and a growing chance of missing the playoffs.
It’s a disappointment, yeah. Yet the strength of the team hasn’t collapsed, things haven’t been put asunder with bad coaching or low quality management moves. For the casual fan that’s locked in on disappointment in the trades of Ben Bishop, Brian Boyle and Valtteri Filppula: They weren’t going to stick around long term by way o the salary cap and costs to do so. Bishop and Boyle will be unrestricted free agents come July 1st, Filppula was due to become one in the summer of 2018. With the club already working with a very tight salary cap, retaining them over retaining forthcoming restricted free agents Ondrej Palat, Jonathan Drouin and / or Center Tyler Johnson just couldn’t be done.
Disappointing to lose fan favorite players, especially Bishop who was such a steady hand in the crease. But when looking at the broad picture, at the “Yzerplan” that accentuates player development, it’s understandable as something that had to be done.
To cut that short: shit happens. Ho hum. Next season is going to be something worth checking out, just as this season was, and the season before…
In comparison to professional sports in the history of the greater Tampa Bay Metropolitan area which has existed 40+ years, this season of Lightning hockey ranks a hell of a lot higher on the disappointment list than oh-so-many others coming from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Rays and Lightning. All that history, all the back-story of each club doesn’t gain web-clicks or sell newspapers at the immediate moment though.
See, Tampa Bay Times (and former Tampa Tribune) sports columnist Martin Fennelly made a bold decree that this Tampa Bay Lightning’s season is the biggest disappointment in the history of Tampa Bay sports. He does quick-quick takes of other top-tier disappointing seasons for local clubs, but highlights the current state of the Lightning as “desperation hockey” and the reason why this season is the top disappointment – ever.
That’s where I’ve been revitalized as a sports blogger, because something so limited in view, perspective and opinion got the green light from the only newspaper in the region. Something so inane, random and weak didn’t just get published – it’s going to get someone his paycheck because he put words down and it fit a column length requirement. Read More
Politics, religion, money, and sports
Three topics to avoid if you want to keep your friends are politics, religion, and money. There is nothing more divisive. But what happens when … Read More on Raw Charge
The history of Tropicana Field and Tampa Bay’s quest for MLB is one hell of a book
One of the hot topics around the Tampa Bay metro region right now is the Tampa Bay Rays proposed stadium in St. Petersburg, Florida. I’m not going to bother getting into the arguments but after reading a few knee-jerk reactions and misinformation about the plans… Well, I felt it was important that people actually familiarize themselves with why the Dome was built in St. Petersburg in the first place.
I read Stadium for Rent by local author Bob Andelman during high school and it showed the battle — political and logistical – to get Major League Baseball in town.
It’s out of print but there are copies for sale out there, also the entire thing is available at the above link. It’s very much worth a read for both pro and anti-stadium people. I oppose the stadium for economic issues (the timing sucks, Stu) as well as logistical reasons, but it’s important to be armed with the facts instead of making up hearsay or misconstruing what is really going on.
I plan on buying a used copy of Stadium For Rent for quick reference in the future. I’ve held it in high regard long enough….
Why is that stadium in St. Pete anyway? "Stadium fot Tent" shows why
One of the hot topics around the Tampa Bay metro region right now is the Tampa Bay Rays proposed stadium in St. Petersburg, Florida. I'm not going to bother getting into the arguments but after reading a few knee-jerk reactions and misinformation about the plans... Well, I felt it was important that people actually familiarize themselves with why the Dome was built in St. Petersburg in the first place.
J.J. Hardy and ChiSox at Devil Rays last Thursday
My friend Bryan Wolfe has been a Wisconsin sports fan since I met him — he was a die-hard Packers fan at age 14, and able to talk circles around most when it came to football. I admire the guy for it, I really do. His passion also carries over to the Milwaukee Brewers and the Bucks in the NBA.
Of course with the Brewers exploding in the NL Central as baseball’s best team, Bryan is feeling vindicated for holding onto his belief that the Brewers were on the verge of something special.
With all of that in mind, I’m writing this for Bryan who was dumbstruck last Thursday at the Devil Rays / Chicago White Sox game at Tropicana Field. I don’t know all the details and I don’t want to paint this as a reaction specifically because of his Milwaukee sports pride, but my friend is now smitten with a girl who wore a Brewers jersey to the game. Not just any Brewers jersey but JJ Hardy.
Jenny, are you out there?
With exact circumstances unbeknownst to me, Bryan and Jenny struck up a conversation somewhere in and around the stadium and Jenny wowed Bryan with her insight and knowledge. She invited him to sit with her and another guy but Bryan chickened out because she was “with someone.”
That someone being her uncle, he would later find out.
So, if you’re reading this Brewers-fan-Jenny who attended last Thursday’s Rays-Chisox game in St. Petersburg with your uncle — Bryan is searching ever so desperately to get in touch with you again. He’s planning on attending more Rays games because he thinks you are a regular and hopes that will do the trick.
Me? I’m blogging for my good friend in hopes that you somehow stumble across this on the World Wide Web. Lord knows I’ve had others do that before whom I never would have suspected to ever see things I wrote.
Hitting a new low for the D-Rays
I’m laughing my ass off over something I disovered while talking to my buddy Keith….
I wrote a post over at Boltsmag a few months ago calling the Devil Rays the worst pro sports team around. If you do a search on Google for “Worst professional sports franchise” and click on “I’m feeling lucky” — my post comes up as the result.
I don’t know if I should rejoice or feel shame. The Rays suck… And as a TB resident, I’ve helped let the world know the Rays suck. So much as for civic pride.
The worst franchise in professional sports
For a long while, the worst team in pro sports was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where heartless and ambitionless owner Hugh Culverhouse reeped the financial benefits of a team in the NFL and cared not for the team’s performance.
For a few years, it was the Tampa Bay Lightning. Don’t give me that crap about the Lightning not having fans — they were there but the product was nothing that would draw fans in any market in the North America (four 50 loss seasons in a row will do that to you). The mystery Japanese owners and “Uncle” Art Williams — football fan come hockey owner — were some of what made the Lightning so laughable.
But today, Tampa Bay hosts another of the most incompetant, misrun franchises in professional sports history and there has never been a day of delight for fans of the team (unlike the Bucs who had reached the playoffs several times before they imploded in the early 1980’s, or the Lightning who went into the playoffs and electrified the region in 1996 before they fell apart). There has been no reason for fans to do anything besides grow apathetic towards the franchise.
I’m talking about the Devil Rays.
Of course someone can point out the Los Angeles Clippers and their futility and I will not argue that. Someone can point to the Arizona Cardinals and I can’t argue with that (as the Cards are owned by Culverhouse-clone Bill Bidwell). Someone can point to the Chicago Blackhawks, and I can argue that the ‘Hawks are facing ill right now but they have a history and loyal fans stick with the team regardless of the ineptitude of the last few decades.
The Rays have had nothing since their inception and — this is hilarious — they have raised ticket prices this season while giving fans absolutely no justification for doing so. No off season moves, no big changes, no signs of progress and no signs of hope.
Please read John Romano’s take on this and basically understand how bad, how sad, how terribly ridiculous this team is run. If there is a franchise that is the poster child for contraction – it’s the Rays. Not because they perform so poorly or they can’t draw fans… but because ownership doesn’t understand what it takes to draw fans in the first place. This is the weak link of a corporation (MLB). Relocate them or close the store and reep the benefits from other locations. It’s a joke what this region has to accept this franchise as “Major League Baseball” and an utter monstrosity that we’re looked at as bad fans for not supporting a team that has given us no reason to care.
The Passion of the Juicer and the idiocy of the Fans
How can people continue to defend Barry Bonds?
I was stupid enough to go onto Scout.com (formerly FanHome) and read some of the discussion that is going on with regards to the current Steroid Scandal in Major League Baseball and the fact Bary Bonds acknowledged using a creme that was loaded with Steroids…
“He did nothing illegal”
Let me get this straight, Barry Lamar Bonds and those like him — from Jose Canseco to Ken Camanitti to Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield — have sullied the reputation and integrity of Major League Baseball to an extent far great than the Pete Rose betting scandal fo the 1980’s. They may have drawn the aw of fans by their feats but they have acheated for more than a decade at various stages in their careers.
Canseco had been a juicer for a while, Camanitti won the MVP while juicing. Giambi did the same… And the entire 1998 Home-Run Chase has been thrown into doubt (say it ain’t so, Mark!.,, say it ain’t so Sammy…!)
And someone wants to say that Barry Bonds has done nothing illegal?
Look at the children that look up to him — sickenly — and those who have been awed by him. Look at the money that thousands, if not millions, have invested in the Giants and in other Major League Baseball rpoperties while they have been led to believe these athletes have accomplished these feats on their own…. Some with their faith in God alone and some with raw skill. All of this is cast into doubt… “God was on my side, as was BALCO!”
It’s funny how I grew up lovign baseball in an age where 40 home runs was a grandiose feet. I hated Barry Bonds then and I continue to do so now… Ryne Sandberg was a respected but loathed adversary and Howard Johnson was the man, at least for me.
Sandberg hit 40 home runs and looked like a stick figure…. Howard Johnson was a 30-30 player and though he had a scruffy beard, he was virtually invisible compared to how Barry Bonds and other muscle-head players have looked the last 7 years.
Oh, and 1991 Barry? He looked like a lanky kid with the most pompous home-run poise to boot.
DOn’t defend Barry Bonds for his transgressions — and that’s what they are, transgressions. It’s time for him, Jason Giambi and others to sleep in the bed they made… And personally, I think a ban from baseball is the only thing that will do in this instance.
The flattery and the frustration
Not only was I quoted in USA Today yesterday, but my quote was placed between Tony LaRussa and Crash Davis’ immortal monologue in Bull Durham… Unbelievable…
Unfortunately, the article isn’t online. That being said, unless you have Tuesday’s USA Today sports section (page 3C), you’re not going to see what was said…
“Renewing the DH Debate” – USA Today
Click on the title for the article. It happens to have a quote from me jammed between remarks from manager Tony LaRussa and “Crash” Davis’ famous monologue from Bull Durham
The lone bright spot after a week of Insomnia
Look at the time this is getting published. I am not a happy camper…
And at the saem time… Indeed I am a happy camper. I got m’self published again in the local rag…:
Rays’ LaMar must go
Published December 21, 2003
Since the inception of the Devil Rays there have been two constants for the franchise: mediocrity and Chuck LaMar. Each season LaMar shows his judgment of talent is less than stellar. Each season his sub 70-win teams earn him another year under contract.
Why is the worst executive in major-league baseball allowed to continue his free rein of ridiculousness? Why hasn’t LaMar been held accountable for the Rays never winning 70 games? For never placing outside of the cellar in the American League East? For poor signings, poor scouting, bad judgment, poor personnel moves? Please don’t feed me the “just look at who he is competing with in the American League East” logic. If the last few years have shown baseball fans anything, it’s that a good judge of talent and some key signings of players who aren’t necessarily superstars can put a team in contention.
The only thing LaMar’s decisions have led to is more futility, more ridiculousness and a further shroud of dread that follows the Devil Rays wherever they go. It’s high time LaMar and his front-office staff were finally held accountable for the mediocrity that is continually shown on field, and thus shown the door.
— John Fontana, Palm Harbor