In all honesty, I'm not entirely sure what to make of mayor Bill Foster's remarks about his meeting with Stuart Sternberg on Tuesday. From what I can tell, Foster seems to be making a couple points:
- Foster had Stu explain the team's marketing efforts, and he does believe they've done a good job (contrary to his rumored stance from earlier this offseason). Foster made a pledge to help the Rays market to the wider area, and the same goes for Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn; both cities will help with drawing fans to the Trop this year.
- According to Foster, Stu is concerned about the future viability of the Tampa Bay market. It's not just that he wants to look into a new stadium in Tampa; he wants to be able to pursue stadiums in other cities as well, and see which situation would be the most ideal.
The first point is encouraging, as it at least shows that there's some on-going collaboration between the team and both sides of the Bay. Communication lines between Sternberg and Foster are probably more open now, which can hopefully only be a good thing.
But as for the second point...I'm not sure how to take it. It is the perfect storyline for Foster to feed to the area. "The Rays want out of the area, but I'm standing strong and won't let them go anywhere...or even talk about going anywhere!" It plays into people's fears about Stu wanting to relocate the team, and casts him as the villain in these negotiations. So I'm hesitant to take Foster's words at face value, as they are so very slanted in his favor.
Then again, I also don't think Foster is lying here; that would completely sandbag his relationship with the Rays, and I don't think he wants to do that. And if Foster is telling the truth -- that Sternberg spoke mostly about larger concerns of the viability of the Tampa Bay market -- then I think the negotiations just got kicked up a notch. Sternberg just put the burden of proof on Foster and on the area: "Okay, if the Tampa Bay area is viable...show me. Show me how it makes business sense for us to remain here." I don't think there's a realistic chance the Rays go anywhere else, but by making Foster prove the area's viability, he's playing the long game and hoping Foster comes to realize what most everyone else does: the path towards long-term viability for the Rays is over in Tampa.
Anyway, that's just my take on it...I could be reading way too much into this. More links after the jump.
- A pro-Rays column written in the Tampa Bay Times? Love it! Hopefully the team continues to generate as much positive local attention as possible before the season starts.
- Yu Darvish signed a 6 year, ~$60 million deal with the Rangers yesterday. And with that, it appears the Rangers are unlikely to make a significant run at Prince Fielder.
- The Mariners signed Oliver Perez to a minor league deal, which is funny because I'd completely forgot that Perez was still around and on the market.
- Craig Counsell talk two days in a row? Yes, apparently. This graphic looking at Counsell's success with his various batting stances is so awesome.
- Joe Posnanski is conducting a poll at his website, asking people to vote for who they believe were the best sports players of all-time. It's an interesting question, and it goes along well with his most recent blog post on Ali.