Apparently the Tampa Tribune was having a slow news day now that the Sonnanstine-Davis wars are over, because it ran an article today with this headline:
For those hoping (or dreading) news that the Budulator was wading into the Tampa Bay Rays stadium mess, watch that telltale modal. As the article makes clear, Selig could influence the Rays stadium fight, because, you know, he’s done it before:
Selig has repeated the same message in Miami, Minneapolis, Oakland, Calif., and elsewhere, so much that some observers have come to expect it. Marc Edelman, a law professor at Barry University in South Florida, said baseball has a history of keeping certain baseball-hungry cities in reserve, threatening to move a team to these cities if the ballclub’s hometown won’t ante up for a new stadium.
Portland, Ore., Charlotte, N.C., and Las Vegas are among the cities often held in reserve, Edelman said. Although Selig can aggressively lobby cities for new stadiums, the commissioner alone doesn’t have the power to relocate a team. Such a move would require the approval of 75 percent of MLB’s owners, he said.
“I would not be surprised to see Bud Selig and other high-ranking baseball officials, if requested by the Rays’ ownership, to begin actively lobbying local councilmen to support paying a significant portion of a new stadium,” Edelman said.
I wouldn’t be surprised either, but given that he hasn’t done so yet, the obvious conclusion is that either he or the Rays owners figure that now’s not the time for the hard sell. And anyway, it’s not like Selig really dives into direct lobbying of elected officials all that much — the best example the story can come up with is a letter he wrote to a Miami-area legislator in 2001, which worked so well that the Marlins were awarded a new stadium promptly eight years later.
The other obvious conclusion, meanwhile, is that if people think you’re going to be making wild threats, you can get attention without actually making them.