And now a quick bit of baseball news before we get back to our regularly scheduled lockout. The MLB shut down Tampa’s proposal to alienate their current fanbase and play half of their home series in Montreal. It was a move so stupid that whoever came up with it should’ve been fired immediately.
If only you could fire owner Stuart Sternberg, who said he was “flat-out devastated” by the decision, according to ESPN. An eight-person subcommittee found the logistics of such a nuanced idea too complex, said Commissioner Rob Manfred, who presumably needs several subcommittees to assist him with understanding the ins and outs of the current lockout.
Sternberg’s “sister city” concept was concocted because the team has been searching for a way to boost attendance forever. Playing in a dome may have something to do with that, or it may be due to the team not spending money, a strategy that somehow works. Why don’t they just let a golden retriever manage, or make an 8-year-old with a freak arm injury their starting pitcher, or let Christopher Lloyd’s ghost cheat for you? (I would’ve liked to see the Montreal concept in action if only for the Expos alternates.)
The sister city idea was originally written into Major League as another tactic Rachel Phelps would employ to try to break Tom Berenger and Co., but the writers cut it because they determined it was “too unrealistic.”
If Tampa ever wins enough games in a row to warrant a book and a movie about overcoming being cheap to set regular-season records, I want a scene featuring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill shopping around for a city to split their home games with.
Pitt whispers to Hill on the phone with Montreal: “Tell Montreal we want $225,000 to play home games there.”
Hill to Montreal: “Billy says he wants $225,000 to play home games there, please. … Yes, I added the please.”
Hill holds hand over the phone mic, whispers to Pitt: “He says it’s not enough.”
Pitt, still whispering: “Tell Montreal that I’ll pay them $225,000 to play home games there, but when I turn around and play the next season in Winnipeg for double, I’m keeping the profits.”
Hill to Montreal: “Billy says he’ll pay you $225,000 to play games in Montreal, but when he turns around and plays in Winnipeg for double the next season, he’s keeping the profits.”
Hill pauses, hears a response, and fist pumps.
Hill: “Thank you so much, we’ll get the paperwork over right away.”
Hill hangs up the phone, awkwardly celebrates with Pitt.
Here’s a question I thought way too hard about: If the Rays and Marlins were to swap fields every other home series, whose fans would notice it first? I wouldn’t recommend that, though, because Tampa would get back from a weekend in Miami short a superstar because Derek Jeter traded him to the Yankees.
The MLB subcommittee should’ve added a little note next to the “Woe is me, this is the only solution to avoid moving the team,” section of the proposal, reading, “Have you tried spending more money?”
What’s the adage servers use when people say they don’t have enough to tip 20 percent? If you can’t afford to tip 20 percent, you can’t afford to go out to eat? That should be tweaked for owners of sports teams. If you can’t afford to build your own stadium, you can’t afford to own a team.
You can get cute and be successful without doing the work, but knowing the multiples of nine with the hand trick doesn’t mean you know multiplication. The Rays and Sternberg are already ahead of the game on the field. They know what they have to do off the field, so they should stop trying to find loopholes to avoid doing what’s necessary. (To be clear, “what’s necessary” doesn’t mean “move the team,” it means “build a new ballpark/spend money.”)