There have been loads of harebrained concepts down via the years.
New Coke. Hair in a Can. “The Godfather Half III.” Auto-Tune. The Ford Pinto.
Effectively, it is time to add one other one to the Corridor of Disgrace:
The Tampa Bay Rays’ nonsensical scheme to play half their residence video games in a single metropolis, the opposite half in one other metropolis some 1,500 miles away.
In two totally different nations, for that matter.
Surprisingly, a franchise that does just about the whole lot proper on the sector — the low-budget group made it to the World Sequence final season and is heading again to the playoffs with one of the best report within the American League — retains messing issues up away from the diamond.
Suffering from dismal attendance regardless of their success, the Rays have been making an attempt for years to provide you with a substitute for Tropicana Discipline, a monstrosity of a domed stadium situated in sleepy St. Petersburg, distant from a lot of their potential fan base.
Having been thwarted at each flip, the Rays got here up with a plan that you just’d swear was a joke in the event that they did not hold saying it with a straight face.
Taking a web page from the previous Kansas Metropolis-Omaha Kings — look it up, youngsters — the Rays are pushing to play spring coaching and roughly the primary half of the season in Tampa, then shift north to Montreal to play the remainder of their residence video games.
Oh, Canada, what are they considering?
Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman gave an incredulous look when requested about Tampa Bay’s so-called “Sister Metropolis” proposition.
“Having two properties, folks with households, folks with youngsters in class, I believe that is fairly a bit to ask,” Freeman stated. “There is not any different solution to put it. That might be loads.”
Los Angeles Dodgers supervisor Dave Roberts expressed the same sentiment.
“The season is tough sufficient as it’s,” he stated. “If that is what the Rays suppose is one of the best for them, then that is nice, nevertheless it’s actually one thing that isn’t best.”
Let’s have a look at if we will grasp what the Rays are supposedly hoping to do by the point their Tropicana Discipline lease runs out in 2027, if not sooner.
Clearly, this boondoggle hinges on the Rays someway persuading each cities to construct new open-air stadiums, which they presume can be extra viable economically since neither locale has proven a lot curiosity in subsidizing a domed or retractable-roof facility that will be optimum for a full season in both spot.
The Rays would maintain spring coaching on the Gulf Coast and the primary a part of the season in Tampa. Then, simply because the stifling Florida warmth is admittedly setting in and Montreal has lastly thawed out from winter, the Rays would shift north to play the rest of the common season, hopefully finishing their residence schedule earlier than the thermometer plunges once more.
After all, if the Rays made the playoffs, they’d both should play open air in Montreal in October — not best, to say the least — or shift again to Tampa — higher climate, however a jarring change heading into the postseason.
San Francisco pitcher Kevin Gausman pointed to extra sensible considerations, which might absolutely elevate the ire of the highly effective gamers’ affiliation.
“You consider taxes, too,” he stated. “You are taking part in in Florida, the place there is not any state earnings tax, and hastily you are taking part in in Montreal? I do not know what the taxes are there, nevertheless it’s most likely fairly excessive.”
And what to name such a group?
The Rays nickname doesn’t work in Montreal, which is keen to convey again the beloved Expos moniker from its earlier large league group, which moved to Washington in 2005. Possibly they may borrow a a web page the NFL in its fledgling days.
Struggling to remain afloat throughout World Battle II, the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers merged for the 1943 season, performed residence video games in each cities, and have become often called the “Steagles.”
Anybody up for the Exrays?
The Steagles, after all, had been merely a short lived answer to cope with extraordinary circumstances, not in contrast to more moderen two-city variations.
— The Expos, in an fascinating twist, performed 22 residence video games in Puerto Rico throughout every of their final two seasons in Montreal in an try to spice up the underside line of a lame-duck, MLB-owned franchise that wound up turning into the Nationals.
— In 2005, the NFL’s New Orleans Saints break up their residence video games between San Antonio and Baton Rouge after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Massive Simple.
— This season, baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays truly performed in three totally different residence stadiums due to COVID-19 restrictions, beginning out at their spring coaching facility in Dunedin, Florida, earlier than transferring north to Buffalo for about two dozen residence video games and and at last again to Toronto on the finish of July.
“Extraordinarily troublesome,” Roberts marveled. “I give (Toronto supervisor) Charlie Montoya and the Blue Jays a whole lot of credit score for what they’ve needed to undergo this yr.”
There have been makes an attempt to play in a number of residence cities, although nothing on the size that Tampa Bay is proposing.
Within the previous American Basketball Affiliation, as an illustration, a number of groups tried a regionalized strategy inside a single state. The Carolina Cougars held residence video games in Greensboro, Charlotte, Raleigh and Winston-Salem. The Floridians performed in Miami, Tampa, Jacksonville and West Palm Seaside.
Most notable had been the Kansas Metropolis-Omaha Kings, who thought of each cities residence throughout their first three seasons within the NBA. Admittedly, they’re much nearer to one another than Tampa Bay and Montreal — about 185 miles aside — which made it extra possible to play 26 residence video games in Kansas Metropolis and 15 in Omaha.
Even then, the distinctive association did not final. The Kings dropped Omaha from their identify after three seasons, ultimately shifted all residence video games to Kansas Metropolis and wound up transferring to Sacramento in 1985.
Clearly, two-city groups don’t work long run. However the Rays hold insisting that it is the solely approach for baseball to outlive within the Tampa Bay space — even when it is just for a half-season a yr.
The Rays had been going to place up an indication at Tropicana Discipline touting the Sister Metropolis plan throughout the playoffs, solely to vary course after they had been rightfully referred to as out for angering what few followers they’ve and inflicting an pointless distraction for his or her gamers.
“I made a giant mistake, an actual mistake,” Rays proprietor Stuart Sternberg stated this week in an interview with the group’s radio community. “I completely ought to have identified higher. And actually, I am sorry for that. I am right here to inform you and inform the followers that the signal just isn’t going to go up.”
Now, he must take a fair larger step.
Name the sister-city plan what it’s.
A extremely, actually dumb concept.
AP Sports activities Writers Beth Harris in Los Angeles and Janie McCauley in San Francisco contributed to this column.
Paul Newberry is a nationwide sports activities columnist for The Related Press. Write to him at pnewberry(at)ap.org or at https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963 and take a look at his work at https://apnews.com/search/paulnewberry
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