I’ve been tinkering with the idea of writing about the stadium issue for a while. After completing some extensive research into all-things surrounding this mess, I feel like I’m ready to dive in head first. So as to not drown you, the reader, in a long encompassing and potentially drunken sounding piece, I’ve decided to break it up into smaller pieces. Away we go!
Picture it: It’s Monday night and the Rays are scheduled to take on their AL East rivals, the New York Yankees. That game would be ESPN’s nationally televised Monday night game. A silent shudder goes through every bay area Rays fan, fore we all know what’s to come. And yes, our worst fears came to fruition.
The action on the field begins, as does the action in the booth. John Kruk and Rick Sutcliffe open their respective mouths and dish an ongoing fury of criticisms of the Trop, presumably breaking open the sixth seal. The apocalypse is right around the corner. Locusts attack the tourists on St. Pete Beach, a plague wipes out the citizens of Polk County, Rays fans go berserk by burning down abandoned buildings and random cars, and the Rays brass mirror the sentiments of those spewed over national television by the four horsemen of the apocalypse.
OK, well things may not have been that bad. Polk Counties citizens are fine as are the tourists soaking in the rays on the beach. There were no raging infernos to deal with either. However, in place of the events prophesied in nearly every holy book, came an ever growing torrent of opinions of what’s wrong with the Trop and why the Rays need a new stadium.
First off, the ESPN’s and Ken Rosenthal’s of the world (you know who you are) need to, in the words of papa bear Bill O’Reilly, “Shut up!” Yes, your opinions of the Trop may be valid, and yes we need a new stadium. However, your opinions are based off of the musings of people associated with the Rays organization at large, as well as fans of the Rays that want something better. Your ideas are not speaking for us because they are things that we are already well aware of. Likewise, your opinions are not your own informed, objective opinions. I’d say they share more of a kinship with statements made after playing he said/she said with a classroom of fifth graders. You know, the kind of statements that are predicated with, “well my brothers sisters cousins neighbors older brother Stan heard that the Trop sucks.” Childish at best. Please do us all a favor and do what you’re paid to do: broadcast the game.
To that end, Joe Maddon’s comments about the Trop, after being asked what he thought about John Kruk’s Monday night ramblings were valid. Why? Because the man is confronted with the Trop’s warts and issues on a daily basis. But, as St. Petersburg’s mayor Bill Foster so eloquently put it, (Maddon) “needs to concentrate on playing on the field.” That is to say, his job is to lead the team, not to be a shill for Stu Sternberg.
Speaking of good ole Stu, as much as I can not stand the over abundance of hyperbolic public bashing of the fans and their current facility, I must admit that he does have a point of contention about what is necessary for his team to be successful and sustainable in the future: the Rays do need a centrally located retractable roof stadium. He’s not alone in this idea. A great many people, including former mayor Rick Baker, also feel that the Rays need a new stadium. And so it goes.
So, here we go again. The debate is heating up, but the proverbial cold war between Mayor Foster and the Rays ownership seems to be as cold as ever. Little to nothing has been accomplished in this stalemate, and we are left with a constant “whaaaa” from both sides. Mayor Foster says that he would entertain the idea of building new stadium on the Pinellas side of the bay, and Sternberg says he’d be open to entertain offers in this region as a whole. Both sides have their reasons why they want what they want, and those reasons are indeed reasonable. However, until the two sides gather the wherewithal to come together and hash things out though, we’re all going to suffer with the hand we’re being dealt.
Coming tomorrow, Part Two: What’s Wrong with the Big Top.