Ding dong, the deal is dead.
The Rays’ bold (and oft-criticized) plan to offer a split season with the team having dual home stadiums in both St. Petersburg (or Tampa proper, depending on new stadium deals) and Montreal is now officially dead after MLB has denied their proposal.
The deal was always going to be a long shot, but had previously gained some traction with positive response from Commissioner Rob Manfred. However, it now appears that the Rays will need to go back to the drawing board locally and start making plans for a new stadium that can house them all season long.
Rays’ owner Stuart Sternberg focused on the future in his comments to the press yesterday, saying, “Our goal has been to keep [the Rays] here for generations and generations. We have tried in the past to build in St. Petersburg, we tried to build full-season in Tampa as well. We’ll see how the stands look this year and the support we get and that’s going to help inform us as well going forward on our plans.”
Sternberg didn’t let the end of this plan dampen his view towards the future, where he sees the sister city model gaining popularity. “I believe the split-season concept is the future,” he said in his presser.
Here’s the Rays’ official statement.
Statement from the Tampa Bay Rays regarding Sister City Baseball plan: pic.twitter.com/N9tA1CTeED— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) January 20, 2022
Here are some stories on the axed twin-city plan:
- Mark Topkin, local Tampa Bay Rays beat writer, breaks down the announcement.
- John Romano of the same paper has a more op-ed take on the announcement.
- Andy McCullough writes up the news for The Athletic. (The Athletic subscription required.)
And of course it wouldn’t be Rays news without a joke.
The Rays are moving on from this plan after 2.5 years because it's almost arbitration-eligible.— Stephen Pianovich (@SPianovich) January 20, 2022
Now on to the rest of today’s links!
- In a heartbreaking update to a tragic story from last season, the death of a mother and her young son who fell from a dining area at Petco Park has been officially ruled a suicide-homicide. Further details from Nick Selbe’s report.
- Maria Torres and Ken Rosenthal take a serious look at the international signing system that frequently exploits young Dominican baseball prospects, and whether an international draft is the solution. (The Athletic subscription required.)
- Kevin Goldstein offers a look at the incredibly interesting story of a fake baseball broadcast designed to help you sleep.
- Carlos Correa has gotten himself a new agent, and it’s none other than super-agent and noted lover of metaphors, Scott Boras. (Story by Jeff Passan)
- In strange “what if” sleuthing, Mike Petriello wonders what would have happened if the Giants moved to Toronto.
- Noted Brewers writer Tom Haudricourt is retiring.
The time has come. After 36 years of covering #Brewers and baseball for @journalsentinel, I am announcing my retirement. The plan is to stay on job through Feb. or thereabouts. Will post more info on Facebook in a bit but am very grateful to have had this long, rewarding career. pic.twitter.com/lWlKBGdVcf— Tom (@Haudricourt) January 20, 2022
- Gabrielle Starr checks in on what Bryce Harper has been up to this offseason.
- Evan Drellich assesses how things are going with the lockout, and suggests that MLB owners are testing the players. (The Athletic subscription required.)
- ESPN rounds up some Hall of Fame contenders who deserve more love.
- David Schoenfield brings us one fun fact for every team.
- Alyson Footer asks the important question: which baseball movie has the best ensemble cast? (If you missed her story earlier this week, she also debated which baseball movie had the most rewarding ending.)
- A truly delightful clip of Hunter Pence and Tim Lincecum imitating each other.
- Will Laws suggests five players who should be traded when the lockout ends.
- Ken Rosenthal, who no longer needs to worry about fallout from criticizing Rob Manfred, pens a new piece focusing pressure onto Manfred and how little MLB can afford to start the season late. (The Athletic subscription required.)
- Former Astros slugger Lance Berkman has found a new calling as the new head coach at HBU. Story by Brian McTaggart.
- Daniel Kramer looks at Hall of Famers who were traded early in their career.
- Speaking of Hall of Famers, Jay Jaffe continues his exploration of the contention likelihood of HoF candidates, this time with Jonathan Papelbon.
- Last but certainly not least... the man, the myth, the legend... Ron Gardenhire.
Ron Gardenhire just wrapped up the #MNTwins Hall of Fame announcement Zoom presser by downing a celebratory shot of Fireball on camera. GOAT stuff.— Do-Hyoung Park (@dohyoungpark) January 20, 2022
And tomorrow will be a better day than today, Buster. Make it so.