They have alternative newsweeklies in Tampa? News to me! But it's true, and the folks at Creative Loafing Tampa sometimes even write about baseball. Writer Joe Bardi wrote a column comparing the Rays' desires to ditch the Tropicana Dome in St. Pete and find some nicer digs elsewhere, be it Tampa or one of the many baseball-hungry regions across the U-S-A, to the plight of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
You might recall that the wildly popular Dodgers packed up and headed west back in 1958 when owner Walter O'Malley couldn't get a new, swank ballpark built in Flatbush to replace that dump Ebbets Field. Bardi, obviously a devoted Rays fan living in close proximity to the Trop, likens the Rays ownership's vagabond shoes to those of O'Malley and likens the local fanbase to Dem Bums of yore:
Like Brooklyn fans, we loyal Rays devotees are spectators with the sword of Damocles hanging over our heads. (You don't have to know the story to know a sword hanging over your head is not a good thing.)
(Rays owner Stu Sternberg) has a game plan. It's a secret plan, much like the proposal for the downtown stadium, but he knows what he wants to do. Will he move to Tampa? To Charlotte? To Brooklyn to compete with the Yankees and Mets? He declined to speak with CL on the subject of stadium plans and attendance, so it's hard to say what that plan is.
But it seems Sternberg is treating us the exact same way O'Malley treated the Brooklyn fans. In the end we will find out what he intends to do only after he does it.
Forget the fact that, you know, the Dodgers were one of the most popular teams in the league in the 1950s and that Brooklyn, had it been its own city and not a mere borough, would have been a top 5 city in population in the country. Tampa/St Pete is no comparison, it's only the 19th largest metro area in the country and has a lower-than-average fanbase when measured by average attendance.
Interestingly enough, Brooklyn and the Tampa/St Pete metro area have similar population numbers today; Brooklyn could be a dark horse as a possible destination for the Rays. If only the last pro sports team move to Brooklyn hadn't gone so damn wrong, and if only baseball didn't have that silly anti-trust exemption, I'd rank the borough at the top of my list for MLB expansion.
But really, dear writer, get a hold of yourself. It'd be despicable for Sternberg to hold an entire city hostage for some stadium fundage but it happens all the damn time. I'd salute Tampa or St. Pete if they didn't cave to his demands and let him fly the coop to somewhere far nicer and more welcoming. You know, like New Jersey.
(via the good folks at BBTF Newsblog)