Joe Maddon to Manage Cubs in 2015

The latest info that sends Joe Maddon to the north side of Chicago for 2015.

Andrew Friedman leaves for the Dodgers

It's the end of an era in Tampa Bay. What does the future hold?

2015 Rays Schedule released

We disect the 2015 Rays schedule.

Nov 21, 2010

Remember the Expos, St. Pete

by Aaron Giddens

I just finished watching the documentary on the Montreal Expos on MLB Network called "Triumph & Tragedy: The 1994 Montreal Expos" (clip).

And after watching it, I got to say the situation they had is eerily similar to the one the Rays are facing today. The question is are we gonna learn from their mistakes or repeat them?

Here's what I mean by it being "eerily similar": In 1994, the Expos fielded what many consider to be the team of the year, even though they never got near the postseason due to the strike shortened season. It was essentially do or die for them because like the Rays today they had financial problems as well. As it is well known now, they were forced to die, thanks to a player/owner dispute that brought on the 1994 baseball strike. And with the strike the '94 season was over, no finish to the season, no division champions, no league champions, and no World champion.

Now, I know what your saying, "But, Aaron, the Rays 2010 season was not strike shortened." And this is true, but it was ALSO do or die for them as well. As we know now, that the Giants are the champs, the closest the Rays got was Game 5 of the ALDS against the Rangers. As after this season the team would be split apart due to financial straits. The team ended the season with the best record in the American League and only one game short of the best record in baseball held by those pesky Phillies. The 2010 Rays are dead with only a division championship. So the team is now split up, where the player who are free agents end up will be seen in the coming weeks, but it will almost guaranteed not be in St. Pete.

Back to the Expos, after the '94 season which had no postseason, the Expos missed out on money they needed to keep the team together. So came the infamous '95 Expos firesale. which is similar to the Rays offseason currently underway. Many of their best players ended up with success elsewhere because of lack of money. And the team never recovered for this and one other reason, and this other reason is the main reason I say the Expos situation is eerily similar to the Rays situation: They were denied a new stadium in a central location by their government.

Just like St. Pete is doing, the government in Montreal refused to pay for a new stadium. This ultimately meant the end of baseball in Montreal. And 9 years later after the denying of the stadium, the Expos moved and now reside in Washington, D.C. as the Washington Nationals. Baseball no longer lives in Montreal.

St. Pete is repeating the mistakes of the Montreal government. In 2004, it cost them their franchise, as most expert agree that a new stadium would most assuredly saved baseball in Montreal. It would have revitalized the fan base, brought back attendance and along with it, the money.

This, in my honest opinion, proves the people that say "A new stadium won't fix attendance" wrong. As it would have saved the Montreal club, I see no reason why it would be any different for our Rays. You move the Rays to a more central location and boom Attendance will go up, cause just like in Montreal, the Tampa Bay Area loves their club. And I'm sure deep down keeping the team is more important to them than some stupid lease. With a lease you only get so much money, but with a new stadium, that money which you spend to build it would be payed back and then some for YEARS to come.

The Expos are considered one of baseballs biggest tragedies. Are the Rays next on that list. Or will we wise up and learn from Montreal? It's too early to tell at this point. But we will find out soon enough. By 2028, we will know. So St. Pete, the ball is in your court, what are you gonna do?

Oct 29, 2010

Just give them up already, St. Pete!!!

by Aaron Giddens

I'm sick of it. I'm sick of St. Pete claiming their contract with the Rays to keep them then not wanting to do everything they can to do so. I'm sick of St. Pete residents saying "don't raise my taxes or I'll vote you out!" It's just time to hand over the team to Tampa if you guys aren't gonna do what it takes to keep them.

More comments from St. Pete residents tonight as they announce they have found a way to get the first half of the money to fund a new stadium. I can now see why Foster was elected cause he's just as stubborn and pig-headed as the residents.

All attacks aside, which isn't easy to do. I've had it with St. Pete hogging the Rays. Yes you guys fought hard to get them, but when they need you, where you at? Not at the Trop. Not in the office. No you guys are hiding behind a TV, telephone and contract.

I hope the area, the ENTIRE bay area doesn't pay for your stubbornness. I've grown tired of playing devil's advocate. Either support you team or hand them over to Tampa. period. there is no "oh we can hide behind our contract" because no you can't. The Rays will find a way to break the lease and then in 2016 we'll be saying the Portland Rays.

Just grow up St. Pete. You have a major league baseball team. So show the eff up and support them or give them up. Period.

Sep 17, 2010

The Derek Cheater incident...another reason baseball needs replay.

by Aaron Giddens

Derek Jeter
Derek Jeter — Courtesy: Flickr
Derek Jeter has done something I never expected him to do. He faked a Hit By Pitch (HBP) to get first base awarded to him. Watch the play here.

This is upsetting, if you watch the MLB Network analysis of the HBP it shows he looked up to see if they were buying it, so not only did he fake the HBP, he smugly looked up to see if he was acting good enough to sell it. The Rays weren't buying it though, and who could blame them, just listen to the sound when the ball hits. It sounds wooden, not like it hit flesh.

The Rays commentators made a good point last night. If he had actually been hit he would have been in the dug out or locker room icing it and possibly even going for an X-Ray to check for a break. So not only did he fake it, he faked it horribly, replay shows if it would have hit him it would have hit him in the elbow not the wrist like he was faking. So not only did he mess that up, as soon as everything was said and done he was not even rubbing the location in pain. He was fine.

So the worst acting job in history and the umps still fell for it hook, line and sinker. These ump either wanted to help the Yankees win, which I doubt, or they are deaf, blind and idiots. An now listen, via this link, to Jeter's interview by YES Network after the game below, followed by Joe Maddon's reaction after that.

So, not only did he fake it, badly like I stated, he admitted it as soon as he was asked the first time. Unbelieveable. I held Jeter to a high standard, he's a role model to kids and he pulls this crap. Not cool. Now to add the manager of the Rays plus everybody else in the sports world wants to give him an Oscar. Cheaters don't get Oscars. Now the point could be made that he didn't break any rules, which is entirely true. But have we really degraded that far as a society where Sportsmanship isn't expected out of professional athletes anymore? Where did we go wrong?

The other argument in favor is "Soccer, the most popular sport in the world has cheaters all throughout it's sport." So? Why must we throw out sportsmanship? There is no excuse for what happened last night. The only thing that makes what Jeter did worse is that a majority of fans, sports writers, etc. agree and condone it.

This just adds more fuel to the fire that MLB needs some sort of expanded replay system. It could be as little as a Challenge system similar to the NFL and it would make a world of difference. So Bud, how many more blown calls from the umpires do we need to see before you get off your butt and do something? You've already had Jim Joyce cost Armando Galaraga a perfect game, had Bob Davidson blow like 20 huge calls this season, what else?!

I tell you now where I sit, if sportsmanship has gone out the window like it apparently has, then I fear for the future of sports in general and the future generations.

UPDATE: It happened again tonight at Yankees Stadium in the Brox, again with the Yankees facing the Rays, this time the actor was Jorge Posada. Watch the "HBP" here. Does this team have any shame? How about the umpires who screwed it up again?! This is really getting old, it's time for Bud Selig to add a managerial challenge system for the sake of the integrity of the game.

Jun 22, 2010

And so it continues...

by Aaron Giddens

The situation about the Rays needed a new stadium continues to degrade. And St. Pete Mayor Bill Foster isn't helping.

Despite calls from Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg to have Tampa and St. Pete to unite, St. Pete continues to say basically "No chance!!"

It's getting to the point where I fear for the future of baseball in Tampa Bay. I mean even though the lease for Tropicana Field runs through 2027, I don't think the team will survive that long.

Look at it this way, the Rays have one of the worst attendance records in the MLB. Yet their television ratings are through the roof. So, that tells me fans do want to support this team. But I have to agree with the majority of the Tampa residents, it's hard to get off work at 5:30pm or 6pm and make it to the Trop in time for the 7:10pm first pitch with the type of traffic the area has.

Yet we still have those "Don't raise my taxes" screams. And now their are those of "F*** you Stu!" And those calling him a greedy wall street person. I would have to disagree, Stu is doing everything he can to make this team succeed in the area. He's lowered ticket prices, added the Summer Concert Series, changed the team name to something more marketable. I mean what more do you want this guy to do? He's done all he can, and while the World Series appearance has clearly sparked futher interest in the team (judging from the TV rating and the fact you can hardly go a local news cast without seeing a Rays shirt or hat) it hasn't translated in to more fans actually attending the games like they had hoped.

So from what I can see, baseball in downtown St. Pete just isn't gonna work like the Mayors pipe dream has it working. And keeping the team in this losing situation, obviously, hurts the team and it's fans.

Chip Carter, the sports director for FOX 13 said yesterday on the noon newscast that there's a lack of corporate sponsorship as well, and I can see that too.

The fact is with out fans coming to the park, they don't have the revenue to stay continually competitive. They are going to lose guys like Carlos Pena, Carl Crawford and eventually Evan Longoria.

I personally don't care what has to be done to preserve the future of the Rays in Tampa Bay as a whole. St. Pete Times Sports Columnist Gary Shelton made the case that it's better the Rays are trying their ultimate best to stay in Tampa Bay rather trying to move to say Las Vegas.

But Bill Foster doesn't see it that way. To him the Rays are stuck at Tropicana Field unless they only look inside St. Pete City limits for a new ballpark location, which according to the ABC collation, the group formed to find the best location for a new ballpark, will also be doomed to failure, and the Rays will die.

And it absolutely pains me to see these comments from "fans", "Don't let the door hit you on the way out." It hurts, I don't think they get how much the Rays are needed by the area. And the ones that do get talked down to like a little child.

It's just a messy situation with no one solution in sight cause of all the stubbornness and greediness from the St. Pete side. Tampa officials don't want any legal trouble. I can't blame them. It's almost as if St.Pete hates the Rays when they want something like this and loves them when they're playing good and staying in line without any lip.

The fact is simply this, it may hurt to lose the team you fought so hard to get, but do you really want to continue to be so stubborn at the expense of hurting the entire Bay area and every fan of the Rays?

There are no free rides to being the hometown to a professional team. There are sacrifices that have to be made. The question is, how far are you as a fan willing to go to keep the team you love? If you not willing to do whatever it takes, then maybe you're just not as big of a fan as you think.

My bottom line remains the same: Either you unite as one or you stay divided and fighting and you lose the team. There is no way to change that no matter how you want to spin it.

Feb 24, 2010

Either unite or lose the team

by Aaron Giddens

Distant picture of the Trop with a city limits sign for St. Pete
Courtesy: Flickr
I have really lost some respect for the people of St. Pete, Florida over the past couple of weeks. The way they are acting over the fact the Tampa Bay Rays need a new stadium is so juvenile, and it's not just the city leaders. The residents have been just as bad. Some even going as far to refer to the residents of Tampa as "Tampons". This attitude has turned me off to visiting the city to watch a baseball game in June. Which is not what the city nor the team needs.

In case you haven't heard, the Rays in 2008 proposed a water front stadium in St. Pete to replace the aging and inadequate Tropicana Field. It was, as expected, not well received cause of where it would be built (it would have been built on the current location of what is known as Progress Energy Park) and how it would be funded (a small tax hike). The Rays abandoned the plans in February of last year when they learned it would be inadequate as well. And so then-St. Pete mayor Rick Baker along with the Rays, established committee to explore possible areas for a new stadium. When the group released their report one year later, there was a negative reception from St.Pete officials cause it was rumored that the committee explored and agreed to areas outside the St. Pete city limits. St. Pete wanted nothing to do with he report citing a lease with the Rays to keep the team at "The Trop" (Tropicana Field) until 2027. Meanwhile, a few Hillsborough County officials (the county where Tampa is) wanted to hear the report, to which St. Pete threatened legal action if any further interference from Tampa and Hillsborough county officials happened to "help the Rays breach a contract".

There have been reports that former Tampa mayor Dick Greco is working with group to get a stadium built on the Florida State Fairgrounds. While another report has a local, small time realtor shopping for land in the Channelside area next to the St. Pete Times Forum for a possible new stadium, but the realtor behind the "shopping" said it's only preliminary plans that she doesn't expect to go any further unless the Rays want them to.

Part of the committee's findings say if the Rays do not get a new stadium before 2027, they expect the Tampa Bay area to lose the Rays to another market like San Antonio, Portland or, by a slight chance, Orlando.

Commissioner of Baseball, Bud Selig has said himself that the Rays need a new stadium QUICK. Stuart Sternburg, the owner of the Rays, has said he can't afford a new stadium himself or he would build it himself.

Now the opinion part of this blog: Tampa and St. Pete need to unite or lose the team for good. These personal attacks from both sides are juvenile and don't solve anything. I also see comments in the comments section of these articles I've read that say "Don't raise my taxes". Now my opinion on this is one thing, either you raise taxes to fund a new stadium or lose the team you fought so hard to get in the first place to another market (read this and this to learn how hard the area fought to get the team). These juvenile attacks and selfish claims of "Don't raise my taxes" only increase the chance of losing the team. Now I live in Polk County, so none of the money problems really effect me so it's easy to claim these things. But I don't think I would feel any different if I was gonna be effected. This is my baseball team, I don't want to lose my team to San Antonio or some other market. St. Pete, by way of current mayor Bill Foster, could easily stop being selfish and let the Rays out of their lease for "The Trop" until 2027 to ease the legal situation so serious talks could commence about a new stadium. Use that High speed rail money from the Obama administration's "Stimulus bill" to fund a new stadium, we don't need that high speed rail anyway.

Bottom line: Tampa and St. Pete need to unite to fund and build a new stadium in either city or lose the team. Period.