Don’t Cry For Me Argentina ……..Or In This Case The Tampa Bay Rays ……….
The woes of the sporting landscape here within the Tampa Bay area has been well chronicled over the years. From the years of mired mediocrity of all three of the professional sports franchises in the area. Apparently it’s back though not quite yet with the same resonance as before . The pitiful Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their half a_sed fans have pinned their hopes on Raheem Morris as the team’s coach and that of Mark Dominik as their general manager. Nothing quite like throwing a half drowned child back into a swimming pool and telling them that they need to learn how to swim. And this is in essence is what the Bucs’ ownership has done with the inexperienced duo of Dominik and Morris.
Now comes the hard part for the cash strapped organization they’ve got to in part lure the fans back to Raymond James Stadium to endure an inferior product and playing staff on the field of play this upcoming season. Never mind coming off a horrendous 3-13 this past season. The the coach was reveling in the fact, that the team had shown signs of life and improvement in their play as the season progressed. Call me naive but how is there improvement in a team, when they couldn’t even string together series of wins during the regular season ?. The coaching and entire coaching staff was completely out of its depth. And the less than knowledgeable fans in the area in their calls to the various local sports talk show hosts , were only too willing to subject themselves to complete ridicule with their so called observations on the Buccaneers. I’m not saying that the vast majority of the fans are clueless but when you start making asinine comments such as… ‘Sabby Piscitelli has the future makings of being Pro Bowl caliber player’. Then I’ve got to believe that some of these fans are chemically dependent on an illegal substance of some sort. Either that , or they’ve just escaped from the nearest mental facility within area ?
The NHL hockey franchise in the area , the Tampa Bay Lightning has been mired in a similar decline of monumental proportions. So much so, that the ownership group that was once led by Hollywood movie producer Oren Koules and his syndication partnership have up and sold the franchise because of the sheer ineptitude shown on their part and the ongoing bickering that took place between Koules and senior partner , Len Barrie . If you’ve ever witnessed two five years old’s in a playground hurling barbs at each other. Then the idiocy of the behavior between Koules and Barrie bordered on that. The syndicate bought the NHL franchise for $240 million but off loaded it for the bargain basement sum of $170 million . But bear in mind that they still owe the previous owners of the franchise in excess of $75 million and they had also failed to keep up the installment payments to the owners , as this was the form of payment the original sale took. As to how this could ever been sanctioned by the league’s front office and its commissioner, Gary Bettman . Well, it clearly shows the idiocy of the game’s hierarchy and within its own head office. And so the travails of the sport remains ongoing . They’re but a heartbeat away from becoming completely extinct. I’d dare say that the vast majority of Canadians are pis_sed to see what has become of their national passtime in the hands of a US based and led hierarchy ?
The Lightning was sold to former hedge fund manager and multi-millionaire , Jeff Vinik . The new owner seems predisposed to spending whatever it takes to put the team back on track . And for the moment he’s placing his faith in Rick Tocchet and his coaching staff . And with a 26-24 (63 points) record and still something of a great deal to play for. The Lightning will have to play at an extremely high standard if they’re to harbor any hopes of garnering a playoff berth from within their division (Southeast) and the Eastern Conference as a whole.
Now the real problem for the franchise has been the been the dwindling attendance and hardcore support for the ‘the team’. And with their home arena filled to less than capacity. It’s easy to see why they now face an uphill task to lure fans back to the St Pete Times Forum . With barely nothing approaching 12,000 fans for a home game , the struggles for the franchise are mounting not just to maintain its competitiveness but also for its financial stability and viability within the area.
If things aren’t tough enough for the Tampa Bay Rays , as it is already. Now they have to contend with a rejuvenated New York Yankees’ team and a powerhouse that’s back to where they feel that they rightfully belong. And that’s atop of the baseball world as ‘World Series champion’. Never mind that they also have to contend with the Boston Red Sox , in what is an already competitive and contentious AL East division within major league baseball (MLB). But that doesn’t even describe many of the problems that the organization is now said to be facing. Some of it self inflicted , and some of it not. Its hardcore fan-base is barely above 14,000 at best and the team averages just over 23,000 per game (2009). Hardly what one would think viable to sustain a professional baseball franchise within the area. But this is how the Rays continues to survive while trying to eke out a profit for its syndicated partnership of owners headed by Stuart Sternberg and Matthew Silverman . And then add this together with the fact that the Yankees’ spring training facility is domiciled in the city of Tampa at ‘Legends Field’ . And you begin to comprehend the vast problems that the Rays face in trying to attract fans to their home venue of Tropicana Field ,Tampa.
Courtesy of St Petersburg Times in conjunction with Tampa Bay.com
By John Romano , Times Sports Columnist
St. Petersburg — Welcome to Tropicana Field, Mr. Commissioner.
Hope you didn’t have any trouble finding the place. I know it’s kind of out in the boondocks. And I’m sure that explains why you have been forced — regrettably, no doubt — to miss 963 of the 964 regular-season games played here the past dozen seasons.
But it was certainly gracious of you to accept an invitation to tonight’s Governor’s Baseball Dinner, and for that, we are oh so grateful. Because, and you may have heard about this, we’re having a bit of a fuss regarding this whole stadium viability issue.
On the one hand, we have Rays ownership and a blue-ribbon committee of local business leaders who say Tropicana Field is the wrong ballpark in the wrong location. On the other hand, we have a lease. All of which leaves some pretty nervous baseball fans stuck in the middle.
So I’m guessing someone might broach this topic with you tonight. And I’m also guessing you’re going to say you agree with Stuart Sternberg that the only way the Rays can remain competitive is with a more attractive stadium that provides better revenue possibilities.
That’s certainly a legitimate argument. Attendance here has not been strong, and a drab stadium in a gloomy part of town hasn’t helped. The goal is a team that can remain competitive, and a better stadium situation is a big part of that equation.
But a stadium is not the only factor at play. Baseball’s economic system has as much to do with the Rays’ payroll issues as anything else. If we’re being honest, it probably has a greater impact than Tropicana’s zip code. Folks in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, with their shiny new stadiums and tiny little payrolls, can probably relate.
So, if I may, I’d like to suggest a deal:
We’ll consider building a stadium if you consider fixing the competitive balance issue.
Oh, I know that’s a hot-button issue for you, Mr. Commissioner. I know you’re on record saying that competitive balance is greater than it’s ever been in baseball. I know you’re proud of the role you have played in creating revenue sharing and a payroll tax.
To read John Romano’s article in its entirety just
click on the link provided
What the Rays have as an added advantage for them, is the young nucleus of a team that is tried and tested . A very good manager in Joe Maddon and some tremendously gifted players in Evan Longoria , Carl Crawford , Carlos Pena , Matt Garza, David Price , Ben Zobrist , B. J. Upton and a slew of other players that would be the envy of ‘any another team’ within the entire major league (MLB) . But unless the fans are willing to come out to see this team play. Then, in all likelihood the owner, Stuart Sternberg , will uproot the organization and relocate elsewhere. It’s as plain and simple as that ! There are a number of cities across the country that would quite gladly welcome the Rays’ organization and would be amenable to building them a stadium that would meet their needs.
Unfortunately , in these dire economic times the city of Tampa with its grandiose notions of being a major sporting player on the professional sports’ landscape , has the ideas of a large major city but the working expertize and knowledge of nothing more than a rural communal town. And if that’s not enough of an indication, then just look at the social behavior of the fans at large, when it comes to their ‘showing support for this team’ ? They’re as fair weather as they come and their lack of loyalty speaks volumes as to why baseball as a sport cannot, simply work within this community. Especially when given the fact that in large part the residents of the city and the surrounding locale aren’t willing to come out and support the Tampa Bay Rays wholeheartedly.
And needless past allegiances to other teams plays its part in this all. But in all sincerity the present ownership has done more than enough to deserve far more than it is now getting from the so-called fans of the sport, within this community !
Elaine Page gives you her rendition of the Andrew Lloyd Webber , Tim Rice written ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ from the musical ‘Evita’. Joining Page onstage , is noted actor and singer, Antonio Banderas.
Courtesy of Sporting News.com
Rays’ payroll set to drop following 2010 season
Sporting News Staff reports
Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg told Tampa radio station WDAE that the team’s payroll will decrease dramatically in 2011.
Referring to the team’s 2010 payroll, which will be more than $70 million, Sternberg said Monday, “(We’ve) completely have outspent ourselves this year.”
“There’s no $60 million payroll next year, either, let alone a $70 million payroll,” Sternberg added. “It’s going to be a tough transition, but it’s something that given the economics of the game and specifically the economics of what we are in Tampa Bay and in St. Petersburg, it makes it impossible to do it for more than a couple of years.”
Several key Rays, including left fielder Carl Crawford, first baseman Carlos Pena and closer Rafael Soriano, are in the final years of their contracts.
Marketing pushes asides, the Rays’ sales office hasn’t done an acceptable job to begin with. Furthermore in an area , where the vast majority of baseball goers are either Red Sox, Yankees or Phillies’ fans. Then in large part, all that the club is left with are the scraps that’s left at the table that no one actually wants when it comes to the fans. The area is primarily made up of relocated fans from other areas of the country, whose allegiances are still with their home teams. Very few, if any, have either changed allegiance or steadfastly support the Rays wholeheartedly. If that were the case , then the average attendance at home games at the ‘Trop’ would be way above the 23,000 plus, that they’re said to be getting. If truth be told even on a fairly good night for a home game there’s hardly anymore than 14,000 fans in the stands, if that ? And no matter what the word coming down from up on high within the organization , be it from Sternberg , Silverman or even GM Andrew Friedman, himself. The baseball club will continue to struggle to lure fans and eke out an existence within the area.
Granted , even if the franchise has a state of the art stadium built to its exacting standards and specifications. There’s still no guarantee that the fans could come in droves to see the team play , no matter where the new venue happens to situated. For all of the studies undertaken by both the organization and that of the local government agencies within the locale . There’s no concrete evidence to even suggest that this would mean an uptick in attendance to the desired numbers that they would wish for. Essentially the options are for the Rays, stay and continue as is, or move to another part of the country where this is a greater wish for the game of baseball and where fans are actually willing to come and see a team play. At present that just doesn’t seem to be the case with the fans within the area. The continued excuses forthcoming from the fans have become monotonous and of no merit. Whereas, the ownership is hampered by a hierarchy (MLB-front office executives) within the game that simply doesn’t know what the hell it is that they’re doing ! Or how best to address the most acute needs of its members.
Can someone please explain to me how it is that an as_hole such as Bud Selig was voted into the office of commissioner and still remains there to this day ? I knew that the vast majority of owners within the game were stupid but I had no idea that it was this much !
I can tell you this much ,as a fan of the game I certainly won’t be shedding a tear for any major league franchise at this juncture ! Be they good , bad or indifferent. The truth is I love the game but I can neither stand the continued pomposity of the owners and in many cases the self serving attitude of many of the game’s players. It were as if many of them think that it is ‘we the fans’ who owe them something . When in fact it’s actually the other way around. I think the Lloyd – Webber composition best sums it all up !. Don’t you ?
Alan Parkins aka tophatal ……………….
Outkast feat’g Killer Mike …..’The Whole World’ .