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Stop the whining and get to work

If bad news comes in threes, what's next for Tampa Bay? Will the Skyway fall down again?

Will the minarets blow off the University of Tampa?

Will the National Hockey League fold?

This week stinks, and it's only Wednesday.

It took not getting baseball to make second fiddle out of the proposed closing of MacDill Air Force Base.

That's Schwarzkopf's base, for Pete's sake. About the time a MacDill guy achieves world fame, they want to shut the place down.

It's almost enough to give a body an inferiority complex.

In fact, a lot of people are taking this double whammy as if it were some sort of judgment, like flunking a test.

It's as if They, whoever They are, took a look at the place and decided, "This isn't a big-league town. In fact, let's take away their military base."

The truth is a lot less harsh.

The baseball decision wasn't a rejection of Tampa Bay. As far as anyone knows, it was just a preference for the deeper pockets of the competition.

And MacDill is in the same boat as a lot of other places around the nation. It is, as they say, nothing personal.

What should we do to recover?

First:

There's not much profit in taking potshots at Miami, either for winning baseball, or for getting Homestead Air Force Base spared from the knife.

Hooray for Miami for both its triumphs. Hooray for Denver, for that matter, which one day may have a say in what happens to Tampa Bay.

Second:

There'll be a natural amount of second-guessing, but let's make it quick.

Sure, we should have done things differently.

We should have united a long time ago behind a strong local ownership.

We should have cooperated in finding a stadium site.

A lot of people, especially among the taxpayers of St. Petersburg, say their city leaders should have waited to build the Suncoast Dome.

Well, not to be too harsh, but:

Tough.

That's how things happened. The past can't be changed. The dome is there, and is going to cost a whole lot of money. The only thing that would cost more would be to tear it down.

This brings us to...

Third:

Will this finally, finally be the birth of a real, homegrown effort to get baseball?

Isn't it about time we took control of our own fate?

St. Petersburg's experiences with outside hockey and baseball groups were identical. The city got stood up at the last minute.

Can't blame the city, you say? Sure you can. Even if the city had no legal power over the baseball ownership group, it had plenty of political and moral power to have taken a stronger role.

No disrespect to Rick Dodge (not too much, anyway), but what does it say about the leadership of the Tampa Bay area when the point man for baseball is an assistant city manager?

Let's get together a group that will kick butt. For starters, the two big-city mayors, the leaders of their city councils, and the leaders of their chambers of commerce should form a war party.

But the civic and political types would be just the beginning. What we need in this war party are poohbahs _ corporate, high-powered poohbahs.

Maybe George Steinbrenner and the Busch folks couldn't help in an effort to "steal" a team from their fellow owners.

But what about the big banks? What about the utilities? What about, say, the Lykes empire? Look at Bronson Thayer of the Lykes-related First Florida Banks, who could push every Harvard alumni button in the country.

Now that Tampa has its performing arts center, maybe TECO's H.L. Culbreath wants a new project. What about Florida Progress's Jack Critchfield? For that matter, what's Schwarzkopf doing?

If not those folks specifically, then people like them. People who could bring weight to the table, and who could bring in people with even more weight.

Their job wouldn't be to sit around and wring hands, putting the rest of us at the mercy of a Compuware or a Kohl or some other faraway enigma. Their job would be to get the job done.

Why not? We can't _ or we won't?

If the response of the Tampa Bay area is "won't," then maybe we don't deserve it anyway.

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