Oakland A’s are relocating; Tampa Bay Rays are on deck


Running off at the typewriter. …

This is a word of warning to Tampa Bay civic leaders: You are on the clock and it is ticking ever so loudly on your status as a Major League Baseball area.

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has made it crystal clear that he would like to pursue expansion, but only after the league resolves the long-standing stadium issues in Oakland and Tampa Bay.

Well, guess what? The situation in Oakland was resolved just a few days ago when the A’s announced they are moving into a new stadium in Las Vegas. That means Tampa Bay is on deck and better step up to plate or the red-hot Rays will someday soon be announcing a move to Nashville, Charlotte, Montreal or some other baseball-hungry city.

(We pause here to urge Orlando political, business and tourism leaders to do their due diligence and investigate bringing the Rays to Central Florida. … OK, now back to our regularly scheduled column.)

The A’s announced move to Vegas means the city of Oakland has lost a baseball team, an NFL team (the Raiders) and an NBA team (the Warriors) in the last five years because all three of those franchises got new stadiums/arenas elsewhere.

If I’ve written it once, I’ve written it a million times: This is not the real world; it’s the sports world; and in the sports world the traditional economic models and measures simply don’t apply. In the real world, fiscally responsible civic leaders are absolutely doing the right thing by expecting billionaire business owners to pay for their own buildings and venues, but in the sports world the city must ante up a big chunk of the money — or else.

In the sports world, franchises and their owners always, always, always win. Local politicians may think they can play hardball with sports owners, but this strategy never, ever works. In the end, the team will get its new arena or stadium — either in their current city or in some other wannabe sports city.

Whadaya say, Tampa Bay?

Do you want to play ball or not? …

Short stuff: My top 10 picks in a mock draft of NFL Draft cliches: (1) Tremendous upside. (2) A high-motor guy. (3) A space eater. (4) Great football IQ. (5) Good gap integrity. (6) He’s plug and play. (7) Has all the measurables. (8) Has all the intangibles. (9) Generational talent. (10) Sets a violent edge. … The Miami Heat’s Eric Spoelstra is the best coach in the NBA, and it’s not even close. … Fox News fires Tucker Carlson on the same day that CNN fires Don Lemon? For sports fans, this would be like Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith getting jettisoned on the same day. Except Skip and Stephen A. are much more credible and much less noxious. … And speaking of cable news, did you see where Charles Barkley will soon be co-hosting a show on CNN? Wouldn’t it be great if Fox News simulcast the show so Democrats and Republicans could see what no-agenda, non-partisan, tell-it-like-it-is commentary is truly like? … By the way, here’s my favorite Barkley quote about his political affiliation: “I was asked for years about being a Republican, probably because most Black people are Democrats. My mother called me once and said, ‘Charles, Republicans are for the rich people.’ And I said, ‘Mom, I’m rich.’” …

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