ST. PETERSBURG — On the floor of the House That Dali Built, it was 40 minutes until the dog (French poodle) and pony show. Circus master/baseball owner Stu Sternberg was helping arrange chairs for the news conference. It was the first time in recorded human history that the Rays needed overflow seating.
Three floors down, Alan Camp, a retired cardiologist from St. Petersburg who lives close enough to Tropicana Field that he walks to Rays games, sat in the museum café and spoke of his own relocation dilemmas.
“You know, I asked my wife if I could live with another woman four days of the week, then come back to her for the last three,” Camp said. “I told her that way we would love each other that much more. She didn’t think it was a very good idea.”
So, this is?
That Tuesday’s news conference transpired in a veritable citadel of surrealism made perfect sense, even more so because it was held under the Dali Museum’s geodesic dome, all the better to keep the heat in, just like that once proposed stadium roof in Ybor City! Ah, memories.
Tuesday, we really didn’t learn anything more about the Tampa Bay-Montreal peace accord. It’s all very fuzzy.
Fuzzy is the Rays’ friend right now.
No ballpark plans were announced. No explanation was offered on why the denizens of Tampa Bay, Trop lease safely in place until 2027, would be willing to feast on Lame Duck a l’orange for eight seasons.
Fuzzy is their friend.
We should all have apples in our mouths at this point. I like Sternberg and his Rays, the forward thinking, the winning baseball, the oversized commitment to the unwritten social contract that should exist between sports teams and communities.
I wouldn’t know how to not like the Rays.
But, like you, I am willing to learn.
Suffice to say that there are probably people around here who think Montreal isn’t far enough, that the Rays should be the first baseball team on the moon. Check out the gravity-free bar in center!
As Sternberg and his allies politely droned on, I drifted though the permanent Dali exhibits. Dali, in one of his works, illustrated that our world is made of subatomic particles moving in constant motion, unlike the Bucs’ running game. I especially like Dali’s use of spirals, which he believed were nature’s most perfect form.
And it was Dali who once said, “Surrealism is destructive, but it destroys only what it considers shackles limiting our vision.”
I’m telling you, if this guy doesn’t deserve a Bobblehead night, no one does.
By the way, I checked with Hank Hine, executive director of the Dali Museum, and he answered with a firm “No” when I asked if the museum was leaving or if there were plans to relocate. I had been thinking a split season with Barcelona.
I am worried about our treasure. The Rays might start a relocation craze. True, the Bucs are safe. Who would take them? The Lightning is already hard at work laying groundwork for not winning another Stanley Cup.
But I hear the Howard Frankland Bridge is in talks with an anonymous Eastern coastal city. Also, emissaries have inquired about Clearwater Beach moving to Kansas for the winter.
Sternberg tried to be nice when asked if there was any chance for Rays fans in Tampa Bay to have the Rays to themselves.
“We’ve been through this long enough to know ‘all for their own’ is not going to be an option going forward,” he said.
We are in the take-it-or-else, it’s-this-or-nothing portion of the program.
“If somebody says no baseball instead of a big chunk of the season, there’s nothing I can really say,” Sternberg said.
Later, I was back in exhibits again, admiring Dali’s use of texture and color, when I heard a commotion. After the news conference was adjourned, a man in a Rays jersey and hat and socks began screaming at all of us. He told us we were “traitors” for being part of this and added that we were “incorrigible.” At that point, he was led away by museum security, which eschewed the butterfly net but had the man by one arm. I did not get his name.
But I think he’s having a news conference today. Has to be better than the one Tuesday. Good seats are still available.
Contact Martin Fennelly at email@example.com or (813) 731-8029. Follow @mjfennelly.