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Tampa Bay Rays keep on winning despite small payroll and anemic attendance | Editorial
The team’s clinching of a playoff berth - again - made this week’s roundup of hits and misses from the Tampa Bay area and beyond.
Randy Arozarena #56, Nelson Cruz #23, Adiel Rodriguez, Manuel Margot #13, and Luis Patino #61 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrate clinching a playoff berth earlier this week.
Randy Arozarena #56, Nelson Cruz #23, Adiel Rodriguez, Manuel Margot #13, and Luis Patino #61 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrate clinching a playoff berth earlier this week. [ WARREN HYPES | Tampa Bay Rays ]
This article represents the opinion of the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board.
Published Sep. 25

A historic run. A tip of the baseball cap to the Tampa Bay Rays, the perpetual overachievers who clinched a playoff berth earlier this week for the third year in a row. The team’s stellar performance should not get lost in the ongoing — and sometimes contentious — debate over where in the Tampa Bay area the team should play its future home games and how much to spend on a new stadium. The team has a low payroll and anemic attendance but it keeps on winning. With just a handful of games left in the regular season, the Rays have the best record in the American League, and this will be the team’s seventh postseason in the last 14 years, a record topped by only the Cardinals, Yankees and Dodgers, the team that beat them in last year’s World Series. The Rays have never won baseball’s ultimate prize. Here’s hoping this is their year.

Police called out. The Tampa City Council was right this week to call out a Tampa Police Department program that singles out problem tenants to landlords. Under the Crime-Free Multi Housing Program, Tampa police sent notices to landlords detailing tenant arrests, a practice that put entire families at risk of eviction, a Tampa Bay Times investigation found. The program swept up more than 100 people who were arrested for misdemeanors — and dozens more whose charges were later dropped, the Times found. While the city has softened its approach in recent years, this is an inappropriate use of police and the city compounds the problem by refusing to acknowledge its culpability in evictions. Council members on Thursday did a public service by calling on interim police chief Ruben “Butch” Delgado to report back Dec. 2 on how police intend to proceed. That should be the first step in a broader conversation of how to reform this initiative.

Details needed. U.S. Rep. and Democratic candidate for governor Charlie Crist ripped Gov. Ron DeSantis this week for easing COVID safeguards in schools and for his choice of a new surgeon general. That’s fairly standard criticism on the campaign trail, but Crist has been a little less eager to reveal details about exactly how he would handle various aspects of the pandemic. Crist’s general diagnosis of the crisis may be sound, but we would like to hear more about what he would offer as a prescription.

The S.S. Money Pit. The same week Hillsborough County commissioners learned the county faced a $2 billion shortfall for transportation improvements, commissioners voted 6-1 to continue pouring money into a proposed ferry service to MacDill Air Force Base. As envisioned, the ferry would transport MacDill employees from south Hillsborough (where many live) to the base, and in off-times, operate general public service between south Hillsborough and the downtowns of Tampa and St. Petersburg. But for all the talk about the ferry’s potential to de-clog the highways, this would be essentially a closed-loop transit option for base employees. This is the 12th time the county has taken another contractual step to get the project off the ground, and the additional $1 million committed for the next year for further planning brings the public cost to $2.3 million already. And though the service doesn’t even exist, its estimated cost has nearly doubled in three years. Commissioner Ken Hagan has been the lone voice of reason on this boondoggle-to-be, which could become an albatross if the county puts a transportation tax on the ballot next year.

Life changing work. Sometimes the smallest things in life make the biggest difference. Take Bridges to Health, a wellness program by the nonprofit Hispanic Services Council, which has served hundreds of people in Wimauma, a south Hillsborough County farming community that is about 75 percent Hispanic. The nonprofit offers training in healthy eating, and provides twice-a-month distribution of free fruits and vegetables. Participants told the Tampa Bay Times they are learning to feed their families food that is healthier and budget friendly. In a nation where obesity is widespread, Hispanics suffer even more, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. And obesity exposes people to dozens of complications, from diabetes to hypertension. This is a wonderful example of community groups working on real-life needs. To help, contact Hillsborough’s Hispanic Services Council.

About time. Speaking of food, the state of Florida reversed course this week and announced it would tap into $820 million in federal food assistance for children in low-income households. After weeks of saying the pandemic-related aid wasn’t needed, Florida’s Department of Children and Families said Tuesday that it is applying for the no-strings-attached money. The shift came after political blowback from advocacy groups and others, who noted that Florida was the only state not applying for the money. Holding out was a callous political move by the DeSantis administration, but the right outcome prevailed.

Editorials are the institutional voice of the Tampa Bay Times. The members of the Editorial Board are Editor of Editorials Graham Brink, Sherri Day, Sebastian Dortch, John Hill, Jim Verhulst and Chairman and CEO Paul Tash. Follow @TBTimes_Opinion on Twitter for more opinion news.