Selig threatens to send muscle to sit in on Rays lease talks

Crazy busy day for me today, so let’s get right to it: Bud Selig yesterday threw the entire weight of his ominous presence behind the Tampa Bay Rays stadium push, telling reporters that Rays owner Stuart Sternberg had given him a “very discouraging” update on talks with St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster on getting out of his Tropicana Field lease, and that he was considering sending someone from his office in to intervene:

“We were optimistic that this was moving in a very positive direction,” Selig said. “Unfortunately, we are stalled. It’s serious enough that in the last 48 hours I’ve given very strong consideration to assigning someone from MLB to get involved in the process and find out what is going on.”

Oooh, scary! Shadow of the Stadium has a good rundown of all the times Selig has expressed “concern” about the Rays before, and one Oakland A’s fan notes that Selig’s intervention hasn’t really moved things along for her team’s stadium issues. And it’s hard to see how an MLB representative is going to significantly affect talks between Sternberg and St. Pete Mayor Bill Foster, who 1) said yesterday that talks are proceeding and “this is not news,” and 2) has 14 more years of lease in his pocket and knows damn well that he doesn’t have to give that up unless he’s happy with what he’s being offered.

What Selig’s statement does do is what league commissioners always hope they’ll do: spark panic among the sports media and local elected officials. Already, Hillsborough County Commission chair Ken Hagan, who’s been leading the drive to build the team a new stadium in Tampa, yesterday declared the “sense of urgency” to be “borderline dire.” To which Shadow of the Stadium replies:

Things can’t be too dire: the Rays have a secure home for 14 more years if nothing else happens.  The team consistantly pulls in some of the top profits in baseball, the franchise’s value has more than tripled under Sternberg, and MLB’s national television revenue is explodingRelocation is not possible anytime soon, and contraction will never be an option.

Details, details. Hey, everybody, let’s write an editorial talking about the threat of the Rays being moved or contracted out of existence, even though Selig didn’t threaten either of those things!

10 comments on “Selig threatens to send muscle to sit in on Rays lease talks

  1. When Bud Selig sends the muscle to sit in on the Rays talks, let’s hope it is alot of them who will buy tickets to Rays games while in the St. Pete area, thereby doubling attendance.

    Bug Selig is a windbag. 4 years ago he formed a committee to figure out how to move the Oakland A’s to San Jose. That committee has yet to file a report.

    Furthermore Selig promotes pure evil. I would like to see him do a public forum in Miami where $500 million of public money was spent for a new stadium for what is now possibly the worst team in MLB.

    The irrefutable fact regarding Rays attendance is that to have ‘good’ attendance the region must have BOTH a good team and a good economy. Without both, it does not matter where or how nice the stadium is.

    A couple of weeks ago, the ‘good economy’ was emulated by the Rays by providing $2 tickets for a Thursday night game that drew 25,000 and by providing for ‘back-to-school’ backpacks the following Sunday that sold out the Trop – 34,078. If people deem they can afford to go to the Trop, and the team is good (as is the case now), they will go.

    It will be a real shame, if the the public has to fork up another $500 million or more to build a new stadium, that will continue to have many empty seats when the good economy/good team combination is not present.

    If MLB/Rays want to leave the 14th largest TV market in the country, and are willing to pay St. Petersburg a 9 figure settlement for breaking their contract early, then I say don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

  2. Hiring top players at $20 million a year could be a lot more expensive than a new stadium though.

  3. Wish I was Mayor Foster. I’d subtly let Selig know what he can do with his “strong consideration” and declare a “cooling off period” of, say, 60 days.

    “Here I am, being a nice guy and giving you an out and you decide to get all annoyed and stuff? I got your ‘consideration’ right here, Bud.”

  4. Much ado about nothing.

    If anything, I would be surprised if any of Selig, Buckhorn, and Foster are in their respective offices by the time this saga reaches its conclusion.

  5. Maybe Mayor Foster can retain a couple of major anti trust lawyers to sit with him at the next Rays game. It would have about as much relevance as Selig’s threat does….

    But in a world where the media and politicians generally seem to be working for the very wealthy rather than those who actually buy their wares and pay their salaries, I can’t blame Selig for trying to throw around the weight he doesn’t have (at least in this case).

    As Scott suggests, there are many parallels between the Rays and A’s situations. In both cases, the only way to “resolve” them to the satisfaction of the owner involves paying a lot of money (in one case to another owner, in the other to the city/county as a lease break).

    Talk all you want, boys. We’ll know you’re serious when the checkbooks come out. Yours, that is…

  6. ChefJoe on August 16, 2013 at 11:45 am said:
    Hiring top players at $20 million a year could be a lot more expensive than a new stadium though.

    ChiefJoe – you raise a great and sad point. The reason the owners can write many stupid long term contracts at $20 million a year or more is because the taxpayers pay for most of the stadium cost. If our elected officials were as good at negotiating as the MLB players union, we taxpayers would be so much better off.

    Regarding Bud Selig’s most recent frontal attack on the Rays, I would not be surprised if the Yankees are doing a lot of whispering in his ears. They are clearly fools lately, based on the ridiculous A-ROID contract that still has to payout $86 million after this year (minus whatever suspension he ultimately gets). Last year A-ROID cost the Yankees about $40 million ($29 million salary + $11 million for his share of the Yankees luxury tax penalty).

    Then there is revenue sharing, where MLB is not transparent in how much the wealthy teams pay and how much the un-wealthy teams (e.g. TB Rays) receive, but surely the Yankees are paying some bucks there. So Hank Steinbrenner ( the rocket scientist that insisted on the 10 year deal for A-ROID back in 2007) is probably thinking right now something to the effect:
    The Rays are a better team than the Yankees with about 1/3 of the payroll, and we are subsidizing them. Bud, fix this now, or at least make it look like you are fixing it!

    And for the Yankees this year, it has been a wonderful alignment of the stars – Mark Tex going down ($20 million), Jeter playing hardly at all ($17 million), Curtis Granderson ($15 million) out for a good portion of the season, not to mention the wonderful role mode – A-ROID ($28 million).

  7. Scott:

    I’m sure you are right that Lil’ Stein is on the red phone to Selig multiple times daily… but the Yankees poor signing decisions aren’t Selig’s to resolve (any more now that they aren’t working than when they were). If Honest Al really wanted to discourage owners from making these ridiculous offers, the best thing he could do is count the salary suspended players aren’t earning towards the luxury tax.

    And even though I’m no fan of Rodriguez, I can actually see him winning his case against MLB and getting his money. On what grounds and under the provisions of what JDA clause are they suspending him for the rest of this season and next? I don’t believe either the CBA or JDA has a “you are an asshole, so we are suspending you for the rest of your career” provision… At very least, MLB has left him no reason not to appeal their decision.

    In my view, he is no more or less guilty than Melky Cabrera… who has not been suspended for his link to Biogenesis (as I recall, their names were one line apart on the list BG had), but was suspended late last year for testing positive. The others suspended appear to have accepted what amounts to an MLB plea bargain, for better or worse. I wonder how they will feel if a year or two from now Arod wins his appeal…

    I agree that the contract the Yankees offered him was and is ridiculous. But they willingly signed a 33yr old (?) player to a 10yr deal. If they expected him to play at his 2007 level for another ten years, then they are fools.

    I side with Showalter on this one… teams should not get luxury tax relief for suspended players.

  8. John,

    Looks like we have slid off topic a bit, so I will be brief in my reply. Regarding A-ROID, I am not ready to make a personal judgment until all of the ‘evidence’ is known. In the meantime, it is very unfortunate, IMHO, that he is playing and continuing to trample on MLB career records that he surely would not have reached if he hadn’t cheated, such as just passing Stan Musial this week for career RBIs. If he hits another gram slam he will surpass Lou Gehrig for that career record. If he hits 12 more home runs, that ties Willie Mays’ career record, and, of course, he gets a $6 million bonus for doing so. All very putrid in my simple mind.

  9. Bud-dy and Stew-ie are following the script, they both consider the market as unsophisicated and prone to the slightest pressure from “da man”.
    Notice that Bud-dy isn’t pulling this charade in Cali, where one of his
    strongest business partners holds all the cards. Tampa bay is regarded as “hick” territory and so it’s time to roll out the “red ball express” to create shock and awe in the locals and shallow thinkers elsewhere.
    Don’t know about the “red ball express”? – look it up.
    The almighty commish office has no muscle to anything about this situation but to try intimidate the cowering locals.
    Hopefully, Foster still has some backbone about not letting the Rayz go scott free from the lease – which is what this all boils down to.

  10. Scott: He is gaining ground on several record holders – some decidedly less pure than those you mentioned.

    I agree that ‘success for cheaters’ is not ideal. However, it is also nothing like unique (in baseball or the rest of the business world). Why, for example, do we determine that steroids are bad, but amphetamines (which ballplayers have been taking at least back into the 1960s and probably before that) are ok?

    You are right, we are way off topic… unless Sternberg swings a deal for Rodriguez, I guess…