Friday, December 19, 2014

Could the Rays move to Cuba?



What? Are you kidding me? The Rays moving to Cuba you have got to be crazy!

Maybe those statements are all true TODAY, but what about five or seven years from now?

With yesterdays stunning rejection by ST. Pete City Council of the Rays Memorandum of Understanding all bets are on the table.

Sure, there are mountains of issues, from real politics to baseball politics but stop and think about it for a minute.

What better way to build a bond between two countries that have little in common.
  • Baseball is a stand out example of something both countries love.
  • Team travel is really not that big of an issue.
  • It would increase tourism for both countries dramatically.
  • Baseball would put the US in Cuba and Cuba in the US.
  • Baseball would give both countries a common metaphorical starting point for future relations.
All of this may sound a little crazy, but Sternberg or the new Rays Owners might just want to take a look south about 90 miles off shore and think about this: the Rays would be a logical choice for offshore baseball expansion.

Getting the Cuban State to provide funds and resources to build what would likely be one of the most beautiful baseball parks in the world should be no problem.

It would be a full house for years to come.

Every team in the league could offer baseball travel packages to Cuba. Baseball tourism would explode.

Player recruiting would be a snap.

Once in place there would be no way to put a value on the franchise.

Television rights would border on priceless.

The thing about baseball is it is harmless. It generally doesn't take political stands, it doesn't pollute, its players don't get their brains beat out, for the most part its players and business people behave themselves and it has a long history in both countries.

Can you imagine the US Secretary of State setting down with the Cuban Secretary of State and beginning a serious meeting with a discussion about last night's Cuba /Yankees Game?

It may just be time for Sternberg and MLB to think twice about a fanatical desire to immediately move the Rays. Sitting tight here in St. Pete for a few more years might just provide baseball with a very unique hemispherical opportunity.

Who knows, it might even breathe a little new life in to the old game.

My guess is a baseball stadium anywhere in Cuba beats the hell out a stadium anywhere near Tampa. 

 E-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net. Or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Twitter@DOCONTHEBAY. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook and Twitter. See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos

Thursday, December 18, 2014

25 Tampa Bay People to Watch in 2015 One of them Peter Schorsch



I noted with interest this week that my friend Peter Schorsch was named one of the 25 People to Watch in 2015 by the Tampa Bay Business Journal. Peter’s company, Extensive Enterprises, publishes saintpetersblog along with several other social media products.

The recognition is well deserved.

From a broader perspective the announcement also validates the growing influence of social media on news, politics and the information people consume every day.

Peter has managed to create a viable business model in the social media space, a feat that even largest media businesses in the Tampa Bay area with all of their resources have not been able to do.

Peter began his experiment in social media with a very specific set of goals and objectives. We had several conversations in those early days and Peter’s view of how the business model for a social media site and the content should developed and packaged proved to be correct.

As more and more people turn to social media for information, Extensive Enterprises has grown carefully and stayed true to the original concepts: carefully managed costs and expanding coverage of politics, government, business and the human condition.

A conversation with Peter Schorsch about social media or politics is like riding the best roller coaster in the State. It can literally take your breath away. Rapid-fire facts, ideas and concepts flow like a torrent.

Peter is himself not without controversy, but most really creative entrepreneurs come with a large dose of controversy.

When I began writing for social media, Peter published some my early pieces, provided valuable critique and referrals all while working incredible hours getting saintpetersblog off the ground. I will be forever grateful.

Peter was a good choice by the Tampa Bay Business Journal. The face of media is changing and in Florida and Tampa Bay and Peter will be an influential figure in that change.

E-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net. Or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Twitter@DOCONTHEBAY. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook and Twitter. See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Rays and the City - City Council needs to be cautious



There is a lot at stake in the Rays/City MOU deal coming to City Council on Thursday. It is not however a win or lose, make or break, live or die deal.

If they're not careful, City Council could end up on the short end of this deal. The Mayor and his team have accomplished a lot in just getting to this point and now is not the time for a lot of political grandstanding by City Council.

What we don't need is a lot of re-lawyering (Kennedy and Gerdes) from the dais, a lot of rambling rhetoric from Kornell and Newton, a bunch of caterwauling about the Rays from Dudley or political grandstanding by Rice. We could use a little of Amy Foster's common sense.

Kriseman has said, “The Rays have been clear they are not up for considering any changes.”

John Wolf has said. “If you decide you want to change something, the Mayor has indicated the Rays will not accept that.”

Assistant City Attorney Jackie Kovilaritch told City Council as nicely as she could the Rays will not renegotiate the deal, and asked that any City Council issues be brought to her before the Thursday  meeting so she can talk to the Ray's attorney.

Council members should accept that invitation.

Remember, the Rays have always been reluctant to negotiate in public and they don't like to be pushed around.

There are some things in the Agreement I don't like especially the Section that seems to write City Council out of any future decision making which is a key sticking point with Karl Nurse.

Rather than spend 3 or 4 weary hours pontificating and making pointless resolutions or amendments, take the Assistant City Attorney up on her offer and get some input from the Rays. I worked a number of large City projects with Jackie Kovilaritch as the legal counsel, and I can tell you for sure there is no better negotiator on the City Legal staff.

When this item comes up, rather than make a spectacle out of the whole deal, possibly say or do something that will put all of this effort in the toilet, Council should simply vote it up or down and then let the Mayor and his team take it from there.

The money is not the real issue, who will demolish the Trop and/ or pay for it is not the deal.
The scope of the MOU is limited, the time frame is limited; a couple of little tweaks and it will be fine.

The issue is baseball and Tampa Bay.

The Mayor has the City set up to take a lead role in the baseball issue; he has put the ball in the Rays hands and City Council would be wise to not screw that up with a cat fight over some meaningless details.  

Don't overlook the Mayor's comments that after the Rays look around the Tampa Bay area at the cost and timing of a new stadium, the Tropicana field site may end up being the best deal if Major League Baseball wants to stay in the Tampa Bay market. And that question has yet to be answered.

E-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net. Or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Twitter@DOCONTHEBAY. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook and Twitter. See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos

Friday, December 12, 2014

Doc's Morning Coffee



Now that it's cooler, a warm cup of coffee in the morning is a real pleasure. I thought I would share one of my favorites.

A Keurig, with one of the "brew your own" cups, some Kahwa Coffee and about 1/2 Oz of Cayman Reef Dark Roasted Coffee liquor (Rum and Coffee).

Let it steep for about 5 minutes add some 1/2 and 1/2 and enjoy. Hold off on the sugar or sweetener until you taste it.

Kahwa Coffee is a local Pinellas County Roaster and the Cayman Reef Coffee Liquor is available from ABC and probably other local liquor stores. Kahlua also works well.

You can use any K Cup dark roast.

The Brew Your Own cup is available at most grocery stores, Wal-Mart and Bed Bath and Beyond to mention a few. If you have not tried one of these nifty devices in Keurig you should give it a try.

Before you ask, no compensation received from any of the recommendations, just offering a really great cup of coffee for these cool mornings.

Enjoy

Got a favorite coffee recipe.. share it as a comment here or on Facebook or Twitter.

Doc

E-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net. Or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Twitter@DOCONTHEBAY. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook and Twitter. See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Reading the Rays Press Conference



I dropped by for the City of St. Pete/Rays press conference Tuesday. Since I’m more of a commentator than a reporter, I was there to listen and watch the body language.

It was an interesting event. Mayor Kriseman was in control. He was not defensive, he had the answers and he has a couple of options already in the works. If the Rays stay the Trop property gets redeveloped. If the Rays go, the stadium comes down and the whole plot gets redeveloped. The City's direction seems clear.

A number of people seem to think the City is giving up the farm and the Mayor has some explaining to do.

It turns out the Mayor is not giving up the farm. Not by a long shot. The deal simply says go ahead and talk to Hillsborough County and Tampa and here’s what it will cost if you decide to play there instead of here before 2027. Go outside the local area and the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is null.

The MOU clears the deck for the Rays to go explore and allows them to do some serious number crunching if they do strike a deal across the bridge.

However the most interesting thing the Mayor said was he thought that after all of the looking the Rays will end up right here in St. Pete.

Why? Because getting a stadium deal at a manageable cost with reasonable financing and public funding is going to be a big problem in Tampa. Most of the downtown Tampa land proposed for a new stadium is gradually getting gobbled up by more profitable development.

Baseball stadiums are a bad deal. The take up a lot of land, they are expensive and the prime occupant tends to be a bitchy, whiny tenant. There are a lot better ways for developers to invest their money and a lot of local governments are starting to think the same way.

There is still the question: does Major League Baseball think the Tampa Bay market is really a baseball market? That question should be publicly answered before any private investor or local government puts another dime into baseball. Rays President Brian Auld deftly dodged the question during the press conference.

Now that the restrictions on the Rays are somewhat lifted, they can get down to serious negotiations. What happens if things don’t work out in Tampa or Hillsborough County?

Kriseman makes a powerful argument for the Rays staying right where they are.

Access is already in place and the property exists in St. Pete. All of that plus a lot more will need to be pulled together in Hillsborough County and it will take a lot of money.

Kriseman has handed the ball to the Rays and essentially said go pitch a few innings and see how it goes.

The Mayor and his team deserve a lot of credit for resetting the stage and getting things moving. City Council may want a few tweaks but this is a good plan.

Proceeding with redevelopment plans while the Rays shop around the area keeps St. Pete in the game and moving forward. Some preliminary redevelopment of the current Trop foot print should be the next step by the City.

Looking for more to read about the Rays:


Tampa Tribune, Christopher O'Donnell: St. Pete reaches deal to let Rays out of contract for cash 

E-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net. Or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Twitter@DOCONTHEBAY. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook and Twitter. See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos