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Q&A with Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg

Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg, chatting with fans during the first day of spring training, has some very specific ideas about who should play whom in a movie about his team. So, it appears, does his wife.

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg, chatting with fans during the first day of spring training, has some very specific ideas about who should play whom in a movie about his team. So, it appears, does his wife.

Principal owner Stuart Sternberg will joke sometimes that he has nothing to do, but, trust us, he has a hand in all facets of the Rays operation. He sat down recently for his annual Q&A session and discussed everything from his favorite souvenirs (involving Don Zimmer, Elvis Costello and Willis Reed) to his favorite singers (paging Tom Waits) to his favorite TV show (not what you'd think) to his favorite snacks (get the man some Mallomars). He played the old "Who'd play who in a movie" game. And, of course, Bruce Springsteen came up a couple of times. Here are some excerpts:

Your wife, Lisa, shared the story of kissing Bruce Springsteen on stage during a concert when she was in college. Do you have a similar claim to fame?

I caught a drum stick at an Elvis Costello concert in 1977 (and still have it).

With both your boys in college and two young girls and your wife at home, how have the dynamics changed?

It's a relief not having a driver in the house who's coming home at midnight. I was outvoted on things before that.

Since there's now a book out about the Rays, let's go ahead and cast a movie. Who plays you?

I've been told I look like Tom Hanks (left), or Martin Hewitt, who was in the movie Endless Love.

Manager Joe Maddon?

How about (late longtime comedian) George Gobel?

Team president Matt Silverman?

(After some talk of Anson Williams, who played Potsie in Happy Days) Let's go with Steve Carell (left), from The 40-Year-Old Virgin.

Executive VP Andrew Friedman?

Jesse Eisenberg (left) (from The Social Network movie).

(At this point, Lisa Sternberg comes over, says Hanks is an absolute no-brainer for Stu and suggests Catherine Zeta-Jones for herself.)

What's the latest gadget you bought?

I just bought a little speaker for my daughter Natalie's iPod.

What's going to be the next big thing?

A. If I told you, it wouldn't be — water.

Investment advice in this economy?

Always keep a long-term approach.

In your five-plus years of ownership, what is the decision you are most proud of?

Hiring the senior executives that I did, specifically Andrew, Matt, Brian (Auld, VP business operations) and Mike (Kalt, VP development and business affairs).

And what has been the worst?

Trying to keep signing a designated hitter. It's always going to come back to that. Also, we had key night, where we made up Rays keys with a burst on them and people could take them and get their house keys made. I was the lone wolf on that, and it didn't go over well.

Coolest souvenir from your Rays tenure?

The Don Zimmer "Then and Now" bobblehead.

And otherwise?

I like the old pennants. Probably my 1969 New York Knicks one.

Do you have a strategy for picking which line to get into?

At the store, I'm generally an express guy. But at the toll booth, always stay to the right.

Favorite kind of pie?

Blueberry, with ice cream on the side.

Favorite movie snack?

Raisinets.

Ballpark snack?

Hot dogs. Is that a snack? It's a staple. Cracker Jack.

You've mentioned chocolate-drizzled popcorn and dates as newly discovered treats the last two years. Is there something new?

Flax seeds. I mix them in with my yogurt in the morning. They're really good.

And we assume Mallomars (a chocolate/graham cracker/marshmallow treat available only seasonally, and primarily in the New York area) remains your all-time favorite?

Absolutely. There's a guy here (at the March 21 spring game) who has a relative who works for Kraft who's going to send me two cases that I can put away for the summer, so they'll be fresh. And I was very surprised to find them in a Publix here near Boca Grande. Shocking actually. So I have two boxes with me.

What singer or band would you like to be on stage with?

Tom Waits.

After your cinematographic debut holding the camera for a St. Pete Times postgame video, do you have plans to get involved in the movies?

I could see being involved with a film production.

Best new music you've heard and downloaded?

The Decemberists.

Your latest must-see TV show?

Modern Family.

Last movie you saw?

Black Swan. It was the last of all the Academy Award movies. It was very good. And disturbing.

What's your car radio set to?

WFUV, the Fordham University station.

The Yankees play New York, New York after their games and the Red Sox have Sweet Caroline; what should "the" Rays song be?

We've tried to make it a (Bob) Dylan or Springsteen song, but my guys keep overruling me. It should be Glory Days.

Three people you would like to see sing at the Trop?

Tom Waits, Darlene Love and Matt Silverman.

What's your current screen saver?

A giant picture of the moon — at about 80 percent.

Ringtone?

It's a sonar beep.

Do you use Twitter yet?

No tweeting. That's why I have people. I need good editors.

What secret skill do you have?

I can wiggle my ears. And I can touch my nose with my tongue.

In a triathlon, which of the three activities could you do best?

Biking. I don't swim hardly at all and I don't have long legs to run.

Punt, pass or kick?

Pass.

Would you rather be the Times movie critic or food critic?

Food critic — though there's not enough food down here.

How do you respond if someone says, "You're a rich guy, why did you cut the payroll so much?"

It shouldn't have been that high in the first place.

Best reason to buy a ticket to a Rays game this year?

Live and in person beats any other experience.

Our annual wrap-up: What Springsteen song that best sums up last year?

Two Hearts.

And one that captures this coming season?

No Surrender. I thought of that as my answer right after we signed Manny (Ramirez) and Johnny (Damon).

Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@sptimes.com.

Q&A with Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg 04/01/11 [Last modified: Friday, April 1, 2011 12:36pm]

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