PORT CHARLOTTE — There has been plenty of chatter about Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg in New York, where the tabloids offer repeated speculation that he would be interested in buying the financially troubled Mets.
There has been very little public discussion anywhere, meanwhile, about Sternberg's efforts to get a new stadium for the Rays in the Tampa Bay area.
And that's probably not a good sign.
Sternberg suggests there has been some slight progress, "nothing dramatic," but "a larger circle of acceptance that something should be done." But there seemingly won't be any real movement until either St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster allows the Rays to look at sites outside the city limits, as they've requested, or, conceivably, a plan is presented that works in the city and they accept it.
As the A's, the other team with a stadium issue, work toward a resolution, and baseball heads into negotiations for a new labor agreement, there is a sense that a clock, somewhere in MLB's New York offices, is ticking.
"It seems clearer to me by the day that we're going to be the last man standing," Sternberg said. "And everything I know, and talking to these guys, baseball is just not going to stand for it anymore. And they'll find a place for me. They won't find a place here though. So it's up to us, to everybody, to figure out how to get it right. …
"We've come so far with this, with all the people who are interested and watching. I do believe we've grabbed into (them) a little bit, and to say it's a good thing, it's fun, it's good for your kids, it's a nice sport. … And that's my real concern, that we won't get to finish the job that I know we were right there to do."
As for the Mets, Sternberg does not appear too concerned. He has said repeatedly he has no interest if they became available and now says, admittedly possibly naively, that he expects the Wilpons to retain ownership. "There's no reason," he said, "for me to be focused on it."
RAYS RUMBLINGS: 3B Evan Longoria is the fifth most marketable player in baseball according to rankings by the Nielsen Company, behind Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols. … The Rays dropped from first in 2010 to second in Baseball America's overall rankings of organizational talent, behind Kansas City. … Ex-Ray/new Red Sox LF Carl Crawford is writing a diary for ESPNBoston.com, and in the first installment said he was glad to play against the Rays this spring because he got "to see how they're going to do things against me." … Based on the Forbes magazine estimates, the value of the franchise has increased from $176 million to $331 million since Sternberg took over after the 2005 season. … To have more retired veteran players around camp, like former Cubs All-Star Glenn Beckert, who visited Saturday, manager Joe Maddon suggested an "Adopt-A-Legend" program. … Asked if there were a certain number of homers Manny Ramirez could hit to have a day in his honor, Foster told 97X radio: "You've got to love ManRam. You know he's going to do something crazy. I think he deserves a day just for being ManRam."