hangoverWell, it is slow time for baseball news, and of course that means, more and more columns on whether Florida can support big league baseball and whether the Rays might move.

First up is Peter Gammons

Florida has Ramirez, Johnson, Maybin, Longoria, Crawford, Price, Zobrist, Upton and two of the best front offices. Still, there are times when one thinks that maybe they should move a couple of Interleague games to Yeehaw Junction, because if Major League Baseball can’t succeed in Florida with these players, these organizations and a real stadium with a retractable roof in Miami, then maybe Florida should stick to Spring Training and Kevin O’Sullivan’s Gators and let the big leagues move to where the snowbirds came from, in the first place.

Gammons also wonders if the Rays could move to New Jersey or Connecticut.

Marc Topkin adds a local Orlando news report that local investors are beginning the process of attracting a big league team to Orlando, a process that will include a privately funded stadium and almost certainly will target the Rays.

DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • Marc Topkin reports that Matt Garza and the Rays briefly discussed a multi-year deal before settling on a one-year contract, and agreed to explore the possibility again in the future. Also, Bartlett seems open to a multi-year deal, but Topkin says the Rays are not at this point. [St. Pete Times]
  • Nick Cafardo writes that Carl Crawford could be traded before the deadline if “the Rays’ financial picture gets any gloomier.” [Boston Globe]
  • Bill Chastain writes about Jake McGee’s struggles during his return from Tommy John surgery. [MLB]
  • Scott Kazmir has spent the off-season working with the same trainer that works with Carl Crawford and will throw a more traditional slider this season. [ESPN]
http://tampabay.rays.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20100122&content_id=7957596&vkey=news_tb&fext=.jsp&c_id=tb
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9 Comments

  1. Brixology says:

    Orlando should have thought about this before they decided to drastically underattend the last series the Rays played there.

    If I were Stu and someone put a giant pile of money on the table, I'd take it. In fact, I'll take it even though I'm not Stu.

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  2. stunna says:

    With all the discussion over the years about teams relocating to New Jersey or Vegas or wherever, I've always wondered why there's never been talk about a major league team in the Carolinas.

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    • i think the Carolinas would work. I think San Antonio would be a great place for a big league team. I think Vegas would work, but baseball is not going there unless it is head and shoulders above other options.

      As for Connecticut or Jersey...If you are going to try to step foot inside Yankees/Red Sox territory, you can't half-ass it. Just because you are close to NYC means very little. Just ask the Devil or Nets, both of whom struggled mightily 15 miles from Manhattan. And does MLB think they will be able to convert Red Sox and Yankees fans in Connecticut anymore than they were able to convert those same fans in Tampa-St. Pete? That's why I have long thought baseball should go back to Brooklyn. NYC can support a third team. The Yankees and Mets draw 7 million combined every year. But of course, neither of those teams would ever let MLB put another team in NYC.

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      • Amanda says:

        Charlotte was one of the cities that was bantered about the last time the Rays were rumored to be moving shop. Considering I live just outside of Charlotte, part of me wants this. Most of me thinks it's the most terrible idea ever, because the Bay area can support three major franchises.

        Can Charlotte support a baseball team? Maybe, but most likely no better than the Bay area can. Oddly enough, college baseball is pretty big around here, especially in South Carolina. (For the geographically challenged, Charlotte sits on the border between the two states.) But the Panthers fans locally have a bad reputation of being a "wine-and-cheese" crowd, getting mad when people cheer too loud or stand up during football games. (On that note, it would be better if Namoli re-bought the team and brought it to Charlotte ... they'd fit right in together with that notion.)

        I just think the Rays need to see if any land is available around the I-4/I-75 area. It would solve all the problems of people trying to get to the game on all four points on the compass. (And I'm sorry Pinellas County people, it's the difference of 25,000 people going over bridges to get on to a tiny penninsula versus 8,000 people going over bridges to get off the penninsula to go see a Rays game.) And imagine the kind of destination entertainment complex that would form with the ballpark, the casino, and the amphatheater, and what else might join it if the team moves there. (Not that Ferg's isn't a great place, but the U-Haul building in front of the Trop isn't all that entertaining.)

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        • GDub says:

          I live in the Triangle and I have heard constantly with the rapid growth of the region and success of the Carolina Hurricanes in the area that Raleigh or Durham would be a good fit (via sports talk radio). The only problem I could see with this area would be the Rays Triple A Durham Bulls being a popular draw in the area, definately can't let them leave town, and with the Charlotte Knights uptown stadium in a standstill because of local resistance, referring to the city as a "major league" city, maybe Charlotte could lure the Rays. I honestly think all would take would be a big enough check and a fancy schmancy stadium, that the TB area won't give the team.

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    • Beth says:

      When I visited Charlotte about 8 years ago, their chamber of commerce guy told me that their market was considered too small to support a major league baseball team. Although their city itself is larger than any of our local cities (about 500,000 to Tampa's approx 300,000), their larger metro area isn't all that large.

      But on another note, what makes me livid isn't the usual speculation about whether the Tampa Bay area is a decent market, but it's the constant sneering from Boston and NY press about the young stars we'll be unloading, presumably to their (big market teams) advantage (see the Boston Globe article). I suppose this is the same reason I hope Lebron James NEVER signs with the Knicks, even as New Yorkers are practically banking on it. It's that air of entitlement from those larger, wealthier places. I wish more athletes were willing to consider "home town discounts" to play in the cities that supported before they were stars. It's not as though these guys can't support their families on the money they're making in the smaller markets. And a mansion in Cleveland, or Tampa, has got to cost less than a mansion in Westchester County!

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  3. Gus says:

    Charlotte is a broke boom town now that the banking community there is evaporating. Don't think that is happening. The Rays aren't going anywhere; despite being spread out as a population base, Tampa Bay is the 14th or 15th largest TV market. Local TV is more important in baseball than any other sports because it is a primary source of club revenue. Anywhere else may help the gate, but it would be a push when you are in a smaller tv market.

    Baseball is building in Tampa Bay. The ratings are up, the box office went slightly up last year. Florida is particuarly savaged by this economy, and with shallow roots, the Rays felt some of that. But if they can stay relevant, contend and make a repeat to the playoffs this year, the franchise will be in good shape. I'm more worried that our current managing partners have their own financial issues (apart from the team, which is actually very profitable) that make them ill-suited to own a team.

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