Your Greater St Petersburg-Montreal Rays

The Rays proposed move to Montreal is exactly what it seems.

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Your Greater St Petersburg-Montreal Rays

This is a really weird idea. From The Athletic:

“We’re going to add a sign in the right-field foul territory with a very simple Tampa Bay-Montreal graphic,” team president Matt Silverman said in a podcast interview. “Especially with the eyes of baseball on us this October, we want that visible symbol of our plan and our excitement for it. It will mark the effort subtly and keep the focus on winning.”

As noted in the article, this popped up two years ago and it’s strange to see it resurface now as the Rays prepare for the post-season. Presumably, the front office are in negotiations with local authorities to ensure the new stadium arrangements are as advantageous as possible and want to use this Montreal notion as leverage. I do question what kind of leverage they can realistically expect this to provide because no one - no one in their right mind, at least - thinks this is feasible.

The Rays are coming off an AL pennant last year to another AL East title this year and generally seem to be in good shape. Despite this, the demand for their particular brand of baseball is low in their own home town. The pandemic might prevent the Rays from capitalising on their success and if Tom Brady hadn’t rolled into town and the local hockey team hadn’t won the Stanley Cup, losing a World Series might look like a pretty good result.

Irrespective, to make better use of their existing demand, I guess it makes sense to reduce supply by taking the team on the road. This ends the charity to which I am willing to extend this idea, even given my own anti-traditionalist bent.

But Montreal? The Expos left in the 90s and I’ve only been twice but I have to doubt that relocation left a Rays-shaped hole in the city’s heart. It’s just so incompatible, not unlike Florida’s relationship with the reality as experienced by the rest of the world. If they can’t get a stadium in the greater Tampa-St Petersburg area built, what makes them think they can get that and another in Montreal? It’s exasperating trying to get to grips with it; it’s the wave-particle duality of shitty owner negotiation tactics.

If I was on the local council, I’d be insulted that the Rays think this will in any way work. Nonetheless, they will give the team what they want and the team will continue to attract a minimal following until this idea comes back in another twenty to thirty years when they decide the solution to their problems is a new stadium. At that point, the league might have expanded back to Montreal, so maybe the Rays will have to offer games to London or Mexico City or Mars.

Wait, there’s an update:

As expected, the idea went over like a chemical plant near a preschool, and Sternberg had to go on Tampa radio to eat his bin of coal. “I’m really here to speak directly to our fans today, and to apologize, quite frankly,” he said, according to the Tampa Bay Times, who should’ve given its writer hazard pay to transcribe it. “I’ve always said that baseball is meant to be fun and engaging and exciting. Brings a community together. I made a big mistake, a real mistake, in trying to promote our sister-city plan with a sign right now in our home ballpark. I absolutely should have known better. And really, I’m sorry for that. I’m here to tell … the fans that the sign is not going to go up.”

The grace, the beauty of sports


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