Rays New Stadium Search Is Moving Along Slowly But Steadily
The Tampa Bay Rays opened the 2017 season at Tropicana Field and owner Stu Sternberg spoke to the media prior to the game. Of course, the most interesting part of the dialogue is his take on the progress of finding a new stadium. The Rays are very good at keeping all negotiations close to their vest, but Sternberg did offer some words of encouragement about the stadium search process.
“We’re progressing. We have not taken any steps back in the whole process. It’s all been forward, sort of like, may I take one giant step, you may take one baby step…the red-light green-light type of thing.” He said. “We haven’t gone in reverse. The process that I and others and everybody I think would like to move along quicker but it’s moving along steadily which is most important. Slope is up. I’m very optimistic we’re going to come up with a solution and something that’s going to be a generational type of facility.”
In a more lighthearted moment, Sternberg was talking about times that he was allowed to skip school to go to Opening Day at Shea.
In a moment of honesty he called affectionately called Shea Stadium his dumb, chuckled and then said, “well, my old dump.”
“I felt like I was sort of cheating because it was a school day. It was more about missing school and then the excitement of Opening Day kicked in. The only other school day I remember skipping to got a ballgame was ’73 when Pete Rose/Bud Harrelson fight broke out.
“I don’t remember the game in sixth grade but that one was memorable. It was really the combination of doing something naughty and then doing it for baseball, it’s like a multiplier.”
He also discussed pace of play issues in baseball and wants MLB to work on increasing the action. He doesn’t want to see walks, strikeouts, and home runs.
Some of his ideas discussed include widening the strike zone, deadening the ball, and maybe decreasing the height of the seams (stop allowing balls to break as much). He was asked if the MLB Players Union would be required to be on board with these changes.
“They do need to be involved to a point. I know that baseball’s allowed – we don’t like to do things – and we go out of our way dramatically not to do things unilaterally. There are rules that allow us to do that after a year.
“With the players, not only the players, there are people within the game itself, coaches, executives, that don’t like to see much any change. We saw a lot just for the intentional walk. But the players like to see less than anyone.”
“I’m a traditional guy, but when I think of traditional I think sort of old time baseball and what made the game great which is again, fly balls are coming down in the gaps, ground balls being picked up like Ozzie Smith, plays…just not walks and strikeouts.:
He added that “The players are not helpful in this.”