Selig's tough Trop talk, and Tino's task ...
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig has only attended one game at Tropicana Field as far as anyone knows, and that was in June 2004, before all the improvements by the Stuart Sternberg-led ownership group.
But that didn't stop Selig from bashing the Trop, in his bid to push the importance of the new stadium, in an interview with ESPN's Howard Bryant, which is excerpted below. And the way Selig answered the St. Pete/Tampa question is interesting, especially since the Rays have a lease with St. Petersburg through 2027.
Tampa Bay has been the league's success story in the first half, but it has not translated to better attendance. What is your level of concern for the future of baseball in Tampa?
Look, they're really pushing on a new ballpark. I think if they can get it done, it will really help them, no question about it. They've got a good club. They've done a great job scouting and drafting. Their attendance is up 4,500, but it's not enough. They can't make it in that ballpark. Have you been there?
Do I need to tell you any more than that? And so, they need a new stadium. The demographics of the Tampa-St. Pete area are good enough for baseball.
On the St. Pete side, though?
Well, they're going to have to make that judgment. If they can get rights … I know there are people who think it needs to be on the Tampa side, but I'm going to leave that to (principal owner) Stu Sternberg. If they can get a new ballpark built, yes, I think they can be a very successful franchise.
Also, former Ray, longtime Yankee and Tampa favorite son Tino Martinez was chosen for an interesting assignment, managing the World team for the All-Star Futures game on July 13 at Yankee Stadium. Former big-league player and manager Davey Johnson will manage the U.S. team, a logical choice since he will also manage the U.S. Olympic team in China in August. Rosters for the teams will be announced June 26.