The Rays stadium search and ‘Let’s go Brandon’ are part of this week’s highs and lows | Editorial
The recent jobs report and the Rays manager also make the list from around Florida and Tampa Bay.
Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash (16), center, celebrates along with Rays left fielder Randy Arozarena (56), left, and Rays first base coach Ozzie Timmons (40) after a playoff game in October.
Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash (16), center, celebrates along with Rays left fielder Randy Arozarena (56), left, and Rays first base coach Ozzie Timmons (40) after a playoff game in October. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
This article represents the opinion of the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board.
Published Nov. 20

Half is a start. Will the Rays get a new stadium built somewhere in the Tampa Bay area? Hard to know at this point, but the basic financial picture is starting to take shape. As he tries to win hearts and minds for splitting homes games with Montreal, Rays president Brian Auld is talking publicly about a new local, open-air stadium costing about $700 million. The Rays, Auld said, would pay half, with the other half falling largely to local elected officials to figure out. Splitting the costs 50-50 may sound fair to some residents — and terrible to others — but at least it’s a new price point to build upon. The dollar figures will help all interested parties to better assess how to move forward. The clock is ticking to figure out the Rays’ long-term future in the Tampa Bay area.

Cashing in. Speaking of the Rays, a hat-tip to manager Kevin Cash, who won the American League manager of the year award. He becomes just the second manager in Major League Baseball history to win manager of the year honors in back-to-back seasons. The team won an impressive 100 games during the regular season this year before bowing out in the playoffs. Despite a small payroll, Cash consistently gets the best out of his underdog team. The honor came the same week that Rays outfielder Randy Arozarena won the American League rookie of the year award. Well done to both.

COVID isn’t funny. So Gov. Ron DeSantis, you chose Brandon as the place to sign four bills designed to nullify federal mask and vaccine mandates. Out of 282 cities, 109 towns and 20 villages in the state, you happened to choose this one, which conjures the vulgar “Let’s go Brandon” code-cursing of President Joe Biden. This joke, repeated again at the signing ceremony, is long past its sell-by date, and talk about fake news — the ceremony was technically in Tampa, not unincorporated Brandon. Alas, this is no laughing matter. You can disagree with the federal mandates — there are fair reasons to do so. And you can yell “freedom” all you want, but the federal rules were designed to keep people safe. Sickness and death aren’t the stuff of stand-up comedy. Do we need to remind you that COVID-19 has killed more than 60,000 Floridians — and counting? How many of those deaths could you have helped to prevent? Take just one second of silence to honor each dead Floridian, and you’d have to be quiet for nearly 17 hours. Not a bad thought. Sorry, there’s no punchline.

Rebounding jobs. Florida continues to make a comeback on the jobs front. During the early months of the pandemic, the state saw a massive drop in employment and record numbers of people applying for unemployment benefits. The shutdowns and other restrictions decimated some sectors, including leisure and hospitality. But the October jobs report released Friday shows the state continuing to rebound. All 10 major job sectors posted increases in the number of people employed over the last 12 months. The state netted another 41,500 jobs from September to October and the unemployment rate fell from 4.8 to 4.6 percent, matching the national average. Florida is still about 170,000 jobs short of pre-pandemic levels, but the trend is headed in the right direction.

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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.