Some Rays opening day leftovers: On the commish, Montreal, Norm, Archer, Papa John
Some leftover items from the Rays Sunday opener:
* Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg said he appreciated MLB commissioner Rob Manfred attending Sunday's opener at the Trop - there also were games in Pittsburgh and Kansas City - and said his presence "can only help" the effort. Manfred said he believes strongly the local owner should lead the effort on stadium issues but that when asked MLB can and will help with "data, information, the bully pulpit. ... Things can be said publicly to help move things along.''
Sternberg said the permission to look also in Hillsborough County helps the process but they've got "a long to go to get it to the point of answering any questions or seeing if it can feasibly be done and the price of the whole thing and everything that's involved.''
Asked about Montreal's efforts to get a team back, Manfred said it was important for MLB to identify alternative markets if an owner felt his situation was untenable and wanted to relocate. He also said MLB would not expand - and thus take away its best threats - until the Rays and A's resolved their stadium issues.
* Manfred's visit marked the first time a commissioner attended a Rays home opener, and just the second for a regular season game. (Bud Selig came once in 17 seasons.)
* Actor George Wendt, known primarily as Norm from the sitcom Cheers, threw out the first pitch, and bounced it badly.
* Pizza baron Papa John himself was on the field, chatting with 3B Evan Longoria - maybe comparing recipes? - and promoting his chain's new partnership with MLB for a 40 percent discounts the day after any player hits a grand slam.
* Tampa Bay area saxophonist B.K. Jackson got deserving applause for stirring renditions of both anthems, and then again for God Bless America.
* Rays RHP Chris Archer's 12 strikeouts were the most in the majors on opening day since Seattle's Felix Hernandez had 12 in 2007. Archer is one of four pitchers to record 12-plus Ks on Opening Day and lose, the first since St. Louis' Bob Gibson in 1975, against Montreal. Archer's five innings are the fewest for any pitcher with at least 12 Ks on Opening Day, and is is only the fourth pitcher in modern history, per baseball-reference.com to log 12 in five or fewer innings, joining teammate Alex Cobb (13 in 4 2/3 vs. SD in 2013), San Diego's Andrew Cashner (12 in 4 2/3 vs. NYM in 2015) and Los Angeles' Zack Greinke (13 in 5 vs. SEA in 2012). Archer's last nine outs on Sunday were on strikeouts.
* 3B Evan Longoria has two hits to move past Fred McGriff as the Rays all-time hits leader on Opening Day with 11. He has had multiple hits in 3 of the Rays last 5 openers and an RBI in 4 of their last 5. In making his eighth opening day start, he tied Carl Crawford for most in team history.
* DH Corey Dickerson became the first player since Eric Hinske in 2000 to homer on Opening Day in his Rays debut. Dickerson also homered in his 2015 opening day start for Colorado. (Only four player, for comparison, homered on opening day in 2014 and 2015 - Alejandro De Aza, Alex Rios, Jimmy Rollins and Mike Trout.