The biggest Tampa Bay-related news of the meetings could come early, with Tampa born, raised and still there Lou Piniella a top candidate to be voted in the Hall of Fame by a committee election on Sunday, announced at 8 p.m.
Piniella, 75, will be considered for his success as a manager, posting a 1,835-1,713 record over 23 seasons with five teams, including his hometown Rays from 2003-05, making the playoffs seven times and winning the 1990 World Series with the Reds and an AL-record 116 games with the 2001 Mariners, playing a role during his 10 years in the resurgence that saved baseball in Seattle. He ranks 16th all-time in wins, was voted manager of the year three times.
"I'm honored to be on the nomination list, but it's not up to me," Piniella said Thursday from his Tampa home. "I think my record should speak for itself. I managed for a long time and won a lot of games. Lost games, too. We'll see how the voters feel. I feel good about my chances, but you never know."
Piniella is on the ballot for the Today's Game Era (1998-present) committee, one of four groups which alternatingly consider players retired 15 or more years plus managers, umpires and executives. Piniella fell short of election on the last Today's Game ballot in 2016, getting seven of requisite 12 votes from the 16-member committee that voted in longtime exec John Schuerholz and former commissioner Bud Selig. The makeup of the current committee seems favorable.
"Hopefully things will fall my way," Piniella said. "I try to keep it out of my mind as much as possible. If I get the call Sunday I'll be ecstatic, and if I don't I'll be disappointed."
There is another Tampa tie, with longtime Yankees owner George Steinbrenner also back on the ballot, though not getting much support last time. Other candidates are Harold Baines, Albert Belle, Joe Carter, Will Clark, Orel Hershiser and Lee Smith as players; Davey Johnson and Charlie Manuel as managers.
Only two Tampa natives have been voted into the Hall, both as managers: Tony La Russa, Piniella's childhood friend and professional rival, and Al Lopez. (Wade Boggs moved down when he was 11.)