The column by Richard Justice starts like this

It’s impossible not to admire how the Tampa Bay Rays are handling their stadium situation.

OK. Not sure we agree. But OK, we will give Justice a shot to explain.

They’ve said almost nothing publicly, taking the high road and letting the politicians do the talking. Instead, they’re working behind the scenes, quietly and tirelessly, lobbying officials, explaining, offering solutions.

Hmmm. OK. This catches our attention. Maybe the Rays are being more proactive than we realized. OK Justice, you’ve got our attention. Tell us more.

…they’ve made no threats, engaged in no overblown rhetoric.

Ummm, Mr. Justice, can you come over here for a second. HAVE YOU LOST YOUR GODDAMNED MIND?!?

Let’s see if you can follow us around Sternberg’s underblown rhetoric…

There was the time that Sternberg said eventually Major League Baseball is going to vaporize this team.” Or the time that Sternberg said the Rays would be playing elsewhere in ten years. Or the time Sternberg accused Tampa fans of not having the “willingness to navigate bridges.” Or the time that Sternberg said the Rays front office will “be the last man standing” in the stadium fight and that Major League Baseball “will find a place”(elsewhere) for him.

If you want to say that Sternberg is just being honest, that’s fine. But we doubt any owner in the history of sports has used a more threatening word than “vaporize.” What owner actually proposes contracting his own team?

For the record, we think both sides are handling the situation poorly. But we also acknowledge hope that there is more going on behind the scenes. And while we have a strong admiration for Sternberg, to say that the Rays haven’t made any threats or engaged in “overblown rhetoric,” is just plain B.S..

 
 

25 Comments

  1. Gus says:

    Re: “vaporize”. Should we give Sternberg the “Giselle Bunchen” dispensation for uttering frustration and idiotic words in the heat of a playoff loss? Probably not because he was talking to Gary Shelton at the time. He knew what he was saying; he wasn;t being heckled.

    They have been on the high road for the last 4 months, for what that is worth. But he’s never walked it back himself (he left that the Friedman and Maddon at the year ending presser).

  2. Sarah says:

    So, does MLB actually ask their writers to do any research before putting their thoughts to paper? Clearly this writer hasn’t bothered even to just google Sternberg’s name if he can make such a claim.

    Count me as another one hoping that the saner minds on the Rays and within our local leadership are quietly discussing this. And note to the Rays: Sternberg no doubt has many good qualities and abundant talents. But public relations is not among them. Please, gag him and let others make the public statements about attendance; stadiums; etc.

  3. Pablo says:

    The Rays keep blaming the stadium for low attendance, when the actual truth is, that this is just too small a market, and too lively, (i.e., too much else to do), a market, to support a major league baseball team. Attendance is directly related to performance, backed up by and limited to, market size…period. The BUCS complain about attendance, and yet they have a brand new, state-of-the art stadium. That should tell Sternberg and the local political structure something. Football is a more popular sport, (oh spare me the rehoteric!) then baseball, and even they cannot fill a stadium in this market.

    Lets not saddle this area with another huge debt, just to satisfy Sternberg’s ego and the St.Petersburg Times’ greed. (Who isn’t aware that the Times owns a large chunk of downtown St.Pete, and therefore have a vested interest in keeping the team in St.Petersburg, and the stadium in the downtown area?)

    I lived in St.Petersburg for 35 years, and finally moved out mainly because of the way the present stadium was forced on the populace by the St.Pete Times and their co-conspiratatetors. It was a white elephant then, and is a white elephant now. I’m sorry to say “I told you so.), because I really liked living in St.Petersburg…

  4. J 2.0 says:

    Pablo, the Bucs weren’t the only team in football that didn’t sell out every game, they’re just the only team whose owners didn’t pick up the tab to get the games televised. Think about the Bengals offering BoGo on playoff tickets. Let me say that again Playoff Tickets!

    Furthermore, the Trop sucks and everyone knows it. Anyone can use that lame argument that they enjoy the temperature inside, but they can njoy the temperature inside a dome anywhere in the Bay Area. The fact is that the stadium is not centrally located in the population. It needs to be in Hillsborough. That’s a no brainer. Even Bud Selig has been quoted as saying that there isn’t any other market available that would be better for baseball than Tampa. So throw out Indy and Charlotte and Orlando the team needs to be in Tampa.

    • Pablo says:

      The BUCS didn’t fill the stadium because they WEREN’T WINNING!, and because this market isn’t big enough, to have enough football fanatics, to fill the stadium of a mediocre team. Ditto for the Rays. There is nothing wrong with the TROP as a baseball stadium…but IT IS in the wrong place! I said that when it was built, but the proponents had a better venue than I did, (a daily newspaper), and were able to achieve their goal of enriching their property values, by having the stadium built downtown.

      Have you ever been to a BUC’s game on a hot day? I have…once! It was one of the most miserable afternoons of my life, and I would NEVER do it again. I can’t imagine sitting through a baseball game, in an open air stadium, in mid-summer, in the middle of the afternoon, or even early evening…anywhere in the area. It’s just too hot in Florida. If the Rays move to an open air stadium, I would bet they lose half of the attendance they now have. Just think back to some of the Rays open air games you have seen on TV. There’s nobody there!…and that’s in a cooler(?) northern area.

      The Rays need dedicated fans. They need fans that are willing to drive a few miles to go to a game. It’s 30 minutes from downtown Tampa to downtown St. Pete. We’ll gladly drive that to go to Wal-Mart or visit Gramps, but not to a Rays’ game…why? The Rays are a good team, they always put on a good game, and the off screen show at the TROP is much better that what you see on TV. No, they don’t need a new stadium…they need more support from their fans, and more dedicated fans.

      • J 2.0 says:

        Pablo, you’re contradicting yourself in your post. You say you knew a stadium in downtown St Pete wouldn’t work, and then saying that they don’t need a new stadium. Well, yes they do. The Trop is terrible. Awful. And the location is awful. Downtown Tampa to downtown St Pete isn’t 30 minutes, more like an hour. Besides that not a lot of people live in downtown Tampa, they live in Brandon or North Tampa and it takes an hour and a half to get to the stadium from there. And the problem isn’t getting to the stradium, it’s getting home from the stadium. No one wants to drive an hour a a half home at 10 o’clock at night on a weekday.

        Furthermore, the Bucs attendance hasn’t been good, but that is a reflection of our local economy and apathy towrds the team resulting from a bad perception of team ownership.

        • Pablo says:

          No contradiction. I SAID the stadium is in the wrong place…was from the beginning…but as a baseball stadium it is fine, playable, comfortable, accessible, parking is good…but too expensive, as are seats. You are wrong on your drive times too. Four years ago I lived in central St. Pete and worked in east Tampa, out by the fairgrounds, and I could make the drive easily in 45 minutes, at rush hour! With the improvements in the interstate, in the early evening and late night, you should be able to do anywhere in north Tampa or Brandon in an hour easy.

          No matter where you put a stadium it will not be filled…this is just not a big enough baseball market. Sternberg wants to move the team to a larger market, pure greed. He could care less about the fans, the effect losing a team would have on this area, or any thing else. No, the stadium is not the cause of poor attendance to Rays games…just the excuse.

  5. Dave L says:

    All of his ‘facts’ as reported are believed by Justice to be so because he interviewed Sternberg and obviously took him at his word.

    Parroting the words of Owners is what continues to get National reporters access to local figures who usually cant get local reporters to parrot such garbage as they would be laughed at if they did so.

    This is how the image of this area is shaped in the minds of the nation who don’t have local knowledge of the true details.

    • Joe says:

      And Dave, this is why I hold Stu accountable and in contempt. Stu has a responsibility to protect his product and fans, and obviously realizes its beneficial to take this approach, which is why I am hostile now to Stu and want the man gone forever. Perhaps I am making extreme conclusions, but I have seen this come out and be played out now for too long now.

      I respect the point of view that some admire Stu, but as I said below, if he did say that 2012 payroll would be about the same as 2011, and he raises it to $60 million when it was $43, isn’t there something up with that? Does he want people like me to kiss up to him that he raised the payroll more than he said? Does he want to quell me? I call it the Syndrome of the Miracle Worker, is it a miracle if you try to lower expectations when you know and WILL deliver at a higher level? That to me is unethical.

      Perhaps I am connecting the dots in a manner you are not, but this is what gets me. Stu should be the Fan of the Fans, yet he allows this to be written about the area, and fans, yes John Romano, get their PANTIES IN A WAD :) :)

  6. Joe says:

    I am happy that this has been brought up. Go ahead and shoot me down or tell me I am out of line, but Richard Justice is no longer a columnist for the Houston Chronicle but now of MLB.com itself right? So does this mean his column is at least somewhat if not fully reflective of a view of MLB itself of the situation here?

    This is a gross misunderstanding of the issue. And this is why I have serious issues with Stu Sternberg and will continue to have them until he is no longer the owner of the team. It’s as if he told someone to write this column just to prop the situation and SPIN it to his benefit. Of course the facts are twisted a bit, but don’t paint Stu Sternberg as a saint because he is FAR from it. I despise local columnists who try to do the same thing, because they try to do it to this day.

    Jayson Stark of ESPN has said the same thing about the Rays not making threats and when I tried to write him about it, I was greeted with stony silence. It is my opinion that these national writers are a combination or either one of being uninformed or deliberately misinformed and the second one being THEY ARE BEING PROVIDED INFORMATION. And WHO IS TELLING Richard Justice what to write?!

    Call me over the top, but when Stu Sternberg only speaks in CONTROLLED media settings with FRIENDLY media when he has greased the palms and tracks of everyone when he has insulated himself with “friends” who have told him he has done no wrong, I got a problem with it. What about the payroll situation that he said that payroll would be about the same from last season into this season?! Is he deliberately trying to SANDBAG us into thinking he’s a miracle worker and have more payroll just because he’s NOT keeping payroll what he suggested at the end of the playoffs?

    I respect the man’s business acumen and professional and personal accomplishments and achievements. But to say he understands Tampa Bay LET ALONE HIS OWN FANS and the customer habits of potential fans is a GROSS UNDERSTATEMENT. He doesn’t connect. He made a classic mistake of being consequential in his approach rather than laying down himself on a grass-roots, even on one one level. To this day, he STILL doesn’t get it. Now he is leaning on Bill Foster, and Foster isn’t a complete saint either but the City Council is stepping up. Where does it end with Stu Sternberg and just KNOWING and UNDERSTANDING the habits of fans and those who could be?!

    • Pablo says:

      Joe, you’ve finally hit the nail on the head. Sternberg isn’t concerned about the team, the fans, the community…he is only concerned about Stu Sternberg, and how much money he can make. I think that is what is wrong with our country today…too many self-centered people who have forgotten how to be Americans, how to work for the good of the peope, and not just for themselves. Stu doesn’t want a new stadium…he wants to move the Rays to a bigger market, so he can make more money. The last thing he wants is a new stadium!

      • Joe says:

        You are right up until the end Pablo when you suggest he wants to move the Rays to a “bigger” market. I disagree. I don’t think he understands the processes and the people here but to categorically say he wants to move the team has not been proven yet at least to me.

        Do I think he’s self-centered? Probably, but he hasn’t made himself available enough and to his defense, I don’t know him PERSONALLY, so I won’t make that jump. As much as I dislike him, and I dislike him a great deal, I will not put words in his mouth. I think he is a foul owner with disdain and contempt and someone who gets his jollies over being in control, but I won’t say he wants to move the team. Now being a NY Mets season ticket holder STILL and not renouncing his seats to me is a conflict of interest and something that continues bearing watching, but again, I pride in being fair. A lot of this makes me very, very sad. It’s unfortunate that Stu is the owner of the club, but to me the jury is out on what the ultimate conclusion is. But Stu just isn’t an angel, period.

  7. Don says:

    Here we are Feb 15, 30 days from spring training with lots of player issues, so lets start a “stadium/attendance/ownership” discussion………. morons repeating opinions…..

    • Pablo says:

      Don you obviously don’t understand baseball. It’s not just about hitting a ball and running the bases. It’s about people, their lives and the undercurrents involving owners, stadiums, the fans, the city…and the million other things that go into making the game interesting. Sitting and watching the average ball game is one of the most boring things in the world, but analysing and speculating on everthing else that is going on, the history, the traditions…that is what makes baseball interesting.

  8. Joe says:

    You know what, Cork or anyone, and I alluded to it above, I am waiting for someone to question what Stu Sternberg is doing with the payroll this year? I recall strongly that after the Rays bowed out of the postseason and during Stu’s “vaporize” moments, that he said that payroll in 2012 would be about the same or thereabouts from 11? So what gives that payroll is up about $20 million (from $43 to about $60), from last year? Is Stu trying to be labeled as a “miracle worker”?

    To me this is insidious and a slap in the face. You trying to sandbag the public and deliberately lower expectations when you KNOW you can deliver a higher quality, better product, that is unethical, especially when you got people stating like Jayson Stark stating that Stu is basically scraping pennies from the floor?! I find this insulting that Stu wants to be a “miracle worker” with payroll when he could have done this LAST YEAR or at ANY POINT he wishes?! And people love this man as an owner?! Obviously, he cares about his image if he wants people to think he can only go so far, knowing he could go farther than that. Politicians do this all the time with elections, you see it now in “adjusting expectations” to make an end result seem better than what it actually is. I wish this would be discussed more, because his actions this offseason and Friedman’s comments about being “lucky” about finding players seem insulting to a good fan’s intelligence. Am I supposed to like you more that you could do something that you thought you couldn’t do (KNOWING ALL THE TIME YOU COULD AND EVEN GO FARTHER)?!

    • J 2.0 says:

      The payroll jump was expected as Shields, Longoria, and Upton all got raises this year. They really didn’t spend a ton of money on FA’s either. Pena took less money to play with the Rays and Scott isn’t incredibly expensive either. Price got a raise, but also chose to take a lower amount (which is awesome) to hel the team out. Price was projected to make $7-8 million and took $4.35 million. All in all my point is that Stu might be a jackass, but he is a good owner for a small market team with a terrible stadium in the worst possible location. So let’s just enjoy the product.

      • Joe says:

        J, I disagree. He said the payroll would be the same. That’s my point. We can enjoy the product, and I will, but it is still what it is. The jump was NOT expected, as even Cork suggested during points of the offseason Shields could have been jettisoned. So it does suprise me where the level is.

        As far as the fans go, now its a complete no-win situation. It’s ridiculously unfair that Tampa Bay’s national reputation is sullied and bruised with little chance of change. That is what I am fighting for.

        • J 2.0 says:

          Joe, I still don’t get why you’re complaining about payroll? Keeping Shields is a good thing. Adding Scott and Pena were solid moves that could have some pretty big upside if they can both manage to hit 30 hr and avg .250. Keppinger adds a solid bat off the bench. And best of all you are the only acting as if they went out on a spending spree. The national media agrees that this is the Rays way. Getting the best you can for the least amount possible. We only have a real shot for a few more years. We don’t have another Longoria in our farm system at this time. I’m keeping my eye on Mahtook, I think we’ll see good things out of him. But other than him there isn’t any potential power down there.

          • Joe says:

            You don’t get what I am arguing, don’t you? He said there would be little change in payroll this year and its up by $17 or so million at this point. He never said or indicated it would go up, so what gives? The payroll jump WAS NOT EXPECTED!!

          • J 2.0 says:

            Joe, it’s simple economics. Inflation, contracts maturing thats my point. Yours is ludicris. To keep the payroll around where it was last year it would mean Upton and Shields would be gone. No Pena, no Scott, maybe Keppinger. Also at $44 million it would be the lowest payroll in the league his year. Every team’s payroll went up this offseason. All of them look at the statistics. The Rays are the 6th lowest payroll in the league. That’s usually where they are. Nothing has changed.

          • Joe says:

            Now I am a broken record….I know what you are saying, but he NEVER EVER indicated that payroll would go up by a third or so as it amounts to. And he can keep payroll wherever he wants. I want accountability for his words and he shows how inconsistent he is.

            If you recall the sentiment, a lot of people thought Upton and Shields would be gone and it was suggested in many places that would be the case. Am I suppose to be happy that Stu did more than what he said he would? He can slash back to the 40s again, and he will. It’s too bad we can’t connect on this.

          • Joe says:

            J, he was saying he could barely afford $42 where he was at….That’s the gist of it, bud. I don’t get the sympathy or strategy what he is trying do do here. I am not a fan of quid pro quo style marketing strategies as they fail almost 100% of the time. Nothing has changed, so why even make the comment in the first place? Doesn’t that make Stu Sternberg the biggest liar on the Rays?

  9. Don says:

    Pablo…”baseball is one of the most boring things in the world”
    You really don’t know what you are watching do you, and I’m the one that “doesn’t understand”
    People like you are welcome to express your opinions even though you don’t have a clue about the “undercurrents” going on with the owners…but at least you not “self centered”,and keep up the good work “for the People”….
    your not really Obama are you..posting on a baseball site? You probably know basketball…hey?

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