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Could Rays become Team Snowbird with 2 homes?

in Sports/Top Headlines by

And now, for the worst idea ever.

How about the Tampa Bay-Montreal Rays, a baseball team that would supposedly speak French, English and Southern?

Such is the idea of Francois Cardinal, who writes for La Presse in Montreal. The article was picked up the Tampa Bay Times. It suggests that the Rays play half of their games in Tampa Bay and the other half in Montreal.

Even for Kevin Kiermaier, that’s a lot of ground to cover.

Cardinal writes that would minimize the costs for prospective Montreal owners (why would baseball be interested in that?), increase TV rights (although at a half-season each). He writes that such an idea is growing “behind the scenes.” He envisions the Rays like a snowbird’s team, playing half their games in Canada and the other half in Florida.

Hey, at least Toronto only wants one player from Tampa Bay. Montreal wants it all.

Cardinal acknowledges there’s been no discussion with the Rays or with Major League Baseball. The MLBPA would surely have an issue with its players having to find two residencies, etc.

Here’s a question: If Major League Baseball wants Montreal that badly – and the Expos drew less than a million fans in seven of its last eight seasons there – why not claim the market full time? Players can eat both kinds of bacon.

Can you imagine a double play that starts on Hillsborough Avenue and travels to Ste. Catherine’s Street? Can you imagine the announcer talking about the designated hitter: “Le frappeur de choix.”

The Rays have been given permission to shop in Tampa for a new home, but nowhere else. It is hard to determine what the local reaction would be to playing half of their games in another country. Would that kill stadium talk here? Would fans abandon the Rays, or embrace what they have, with a 40-game schedule? Which team gets playoff games, if there are any? Where do you hang a banner?

And the big question: Would fans agree to a new stadium in Tampa for 41 dates a year? Would a different group of fans agree to a new stadium in Montreal for the same amount of games. Remember, those costs would not be halved.

Bottom line: It’s far too early for such thinking. If there is no stadium solution for the Rays on either side of the bay, it wouldn’t be stunning if the Rays eventually flirt north of the boarder.

Put it this way: If a two-way city share of the Rays is a good idea, well, why not a four-way split with 20 games each and include Tokyo and Sydney? Why not eight cities with 10 games each and include London Berlin, Brussels and Paris? You could build stadiums everywhere and sell broadcasting rights across the globe.

Why not?

Because it’s silly.

So, too, is this.

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Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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