Who has an interest in Tampa Bay Rays moving?


I usually don’t like to write about sports because, by and large, athletics no longer interest me.  Still, there is an issue involving pro sports which continues to capture my attention, as well as the attention of the entire country in some form.

Will the Tampa Bay Rays get a new stadium, or will they end up leaving?

Outgoing baseball commissioner Bud Selig said, in a June interview, that he finds the Rays stadium talks with St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman promising.  He also considers Montreal, which lost its franchise over a decade ago to Washington, a promising market as well.  There has been years of talk about a new stadium for the Rays, but even more talk about their attendance and the market.  Still, all this focus on the Rays, and not on other teams with poor attendance (Braves, Royals, Indians, etc.) raises a far more interesting question.

Who has a vested interest in seeing the Rays actually move?

That question asked, several players come to mind:

Hal and Hank Steinbrenner – Owners, New York Yankees

Why it makes sense:  The Boss’ heirs have a huge interest in seeing the Rays move out of town.  Tampa Bay is considered “Yankees Country,” despite the fact the team has only been holding Spring Training there since 1994.  Also, many New York transplants settle in the Tampa Bay area as of late, and the Yankees don’t really like the idea of an upstart, budget-minded team with a penchant for making something out of nothing upsetting baseball’s economic apple cart.  Who can forget Hal Steinbrenner reminding the Rays of who really “pays” their salaries (via baseball’s luxury tax and revenue sharing).

Why it doesn’t:  A winning Rays team actually fosters a quasi-civil war within the Tampa Bay baseball community, which actually benefits the Yankees with regards to merchandise sales and television revenue.

David Montgomery – Owner, Philadelphia Phillies

Why it makes sense:  The Phils have been a Clearwater stalwart for decades, and an American League team in town doesn’t help them with any sort of revenue streams.    An area in which the Rays moving would benefit the Phillies would be the opening of broadcast rights for the Tampa Bay market.

Why it doesn’t:  When the Rays played the Phillies in the ’08 World Series, fans of the New Whiz Kids came out of the worldwork, bumping up revenue sales.  Strangely, attendance for Spring Training and their minor league affiliate hasn’t been hurt, either.

Jeffrey Loria – Owner, Miami Marlins

Why it makes sense:  The Marlins are desperate for a bump in attendance and revenue.  A shiny new downtown ballpark has not only failed to deliver the fans, it has also been a disappointment at the bank. Miami-Dade County residents are still seething over a $2 billion final bill that Loria will likely not pay a dime of out of his own pocket.    

Why it doesn’t:   Tampa Bay fans still remember how original owner Wayne Huizenga swooped in at the last minute and waved a $95 million check under baseball’s nose in 1992, and swiped the team out from under the collective noses of Tampa Bay fans.  Marlins merchandise sales, in the Tampa Bay area, reportedly come in dead last.

Cities of Montreal/Charlotte/Nashville/Buffalo

Why it makes sense:  These are cities which still wish to see a baseball franchise grace their civic doorsteps.  The Rays stadium issue gives them hope of being the “girl who really breaks up the marriage.”  Montreal and Buffalo both have team-ready stadiums and the will to build a shiny new park.  Nashville and Charlotte have corporate backing to build one in a hurry.

Why it doesn’t:  St. Petersburg can sue any one of these cities as a co-conspirator, which would leave taxpayers in those cities on the hook for big damages.  In this area of fiscal austerity, few cities have the civil stones to pull a stunt like that on voters.  Also, Cleveland and Boston (both American League markets) could argue territory rights and put a nix on any move or demand huge relocation damages.


Why it makes sense:  The Land of Mickey has been rather quiet about the Rays issue, mainly because they are trying avoid the aforementioned legal action.  Central Florida, however, is an attractive option to the Rays in that they would likely get an easy approval to relocate because the team stays close to its home market, can draw on the Tampa Bay area (likely renaming themselves the “Florida Rays”), and land some big money sponsors such as Disney.  Don’t think for a second Orlando, Orange County, and the surrounding areas aren’t monitoring this situation very closely.

Why it doesn’t:  Orlando doesn’t have a stadium, and any sort of tax in this area which already has an assortment of “sneaker” taxes (toll roads, bed taxes, gas taxes, rental car taxes), will likely be met with voter rage.  Also, Orlando’s television market remains a laggard behind Tampa Bay.


Why it makes sense:  The “Worldwide Leader in Sports” has a blatantly New York/Boston-centric slant, and Tampa Bay has long been derided as a joke by its commentators (oddly enough, they rarely rail against other markets with similar attendance woes).  The network cares for neither “Moneyball” approach the Rays take, nor do its commentators approve of the blue-collar feel of the Tampa Bay area vis-a-vis other Florida markets (Miami).  Also, completely unacceptable is the fact that fans watching the Rays on Sunsports, Fox Sports and non-ESPN network cuts into the bottom line.

Why it doesn’t:  Rays fans are a remarkably vindictive bunch, and have been known to boycott outlets which crack on the Rays.  ESPN is owned by Disney, and Rays fans have no problem telling the Mouse where he can shove his network.

And of course, we can’t go without an oddball possibility:

St. Petersburg

Why it makes sense:  This city still hasn’t completely shaken the “God’s Waiting Room” image of seniors playing shuffleboard.  Despite the fact the Rays bring in big money, Stuart Sternberg is still an outsider to the old boy networks which still hold massive sway in the community.  Many of the power players in the city have the “if we can’t have it, nobody can,” mentality.

Why it doesn’t:  Wanting to lose a major league team entirely sounds like a patient wanting to cure a blister by cutting off the affected finger.  No politician is willing to be calling the “guy/gal who lost the team.”

That said, here’s MY prediction:  The Rays will stay in the Tampa Bay area, but not in St. Petersburg.  The Toytown area near I-275 and Roosevelt Blvd., the Florida State Fairgrounds, Raymond James Stadium area, and even central Pasco County are attractive options to the Rays. Don’t count on a downtown Tampa stadium (though a site near the University of Tampa is not entirely out of the question if land can be acquired cheap enough).  By 2020, the Tampa Bay Rays will be in a new stadium; intimate, cozy, high-tech to the hilt, a makes-the-Atlanta-Braves-green-with-envy stadium that is not, repeat, not in the city limits of St. Petersburg.

A 38 Day Education…Jay interviews the author

Today, a little role reversal…Jay Ferragamo, Editor of The Scope newspaper from “A 38 Day Education,” stops in to interview me.  Yep, weirdness shall abound.

Jay:  Okay John, that’s for agreeing to this interview.  Let’s start with a little something few know about you personally.
John:  Okay, here’s one…I’ve loved cats ever since I was a child.

Jay:  But you have three cats now..
John:  That’s right, but I wasn’t allowed to have a cat as a child.  My mom didn’t like cats then because they attacked birds and my dad didn’t like how sneaky they were, in his view.  Now, I have four great Kitties and before the boys I have now, I had two girls and a boy.

Jay:  it says here you are a huge advocate in the fight against FIP.  What is that?
John:  Feline Infectious Peritonitis.  It’s an autoimmune illness which is 100% fatal.  It begins as a regular coronavirus, which should usually amount to just a “kitty flu” but, in rare instances, mutates and causes a cat’s immune system to attack it’s own insides.  Horrible way to die.  I lost my little boy Cooper at 11 months to it.  I will always advocate for funding to fight this disease, and there are new breakthroughs every year.

RELATED:  John’s Amazon Authors Page

Jay:  Okay, happier topic…what about sports?
John:  I used to be a huge football fan, but not so much anymore.  I dunno, it just feels like it’s going the way of basketball now with the ego driven individualism.  There’s very little concept of team spirit.  I like hockey and baseball. I get a kick out of curling, and I watch Canadian football every so often when I need a diversion.  I prefer artistic sports, such as gymnastics and figure skating.

Jay:  What are your political leanings?
John:  I knew I would have this question pop up eventually.  We’ll, let start by saying I am not a member if either party…I’m a registered independent.  That said, I see myself as a moderate liberal.  I think the conservative side has a lot of great ideas, but their narrative has been hijacked by big money power brokers, much the same as the liberal side has been.  I do believe our nation should have a strong national defense and lead by example, but to do so we need to take care of our own and feed,.cloth, and shelter our citizens.  That said, I feel every able bodies citizen should work, even if that means volunteer work to receive government benefits. Finally, I believe very strongly that we should not legislate morality, which means gay marriage and adoption, recreational “soft” drug use, and certain other victimless “crimes” should be codified as legal.  I also am pro-choice, because the woman must ultimately bear responsibility for her choices.  If she can live with it, she ultimately has the right to dictate her destiny.  Men aren’t exactly innocent….if you don’t want this issue, use protection!

Jay:  So you support gay marriage?
John:  Absolutely.  If two consenting adults are happy and in love and wish to commit, what right do we have to impose a moral standard on them?  I don’t begrudge the individual right to religious belief, so my view is there should be a covenant marriage, granted only by religious institutions, and civil marriage, which both ministers and the government can grant. Gay marriage would fall under the latter, with equal legal standing.

Jay:  You said you were raised Catholic.  What do you think of Pope Francis?
John:  Im honestly surprised he hasn’t been shot at already.  Maybe I don’t follow his happenings too much but I think he’s a pretty forward thinking man.  The church has been needing a swift kick in the Fanny with regards towards the poor, and Francis and giving it just that.  Kudos to him.  He’s scaring a LOT of powerful folks.

Jay:  Give me a childhood hero growing up.
John:  Didn’t really have one.  I would say Optimus Prime but we are obviously talking real life, so probably my Dad and, even though he died before I was born, my Dads father.  He was Production Manager for Cosmopolitan magazine when it transitioned from a news and featured mag to a womens’ publication.

Jay:  Okay, who do you admire today?
John:  Well, my dad because he earned his bachelors in his mid 70s.  I felt honored I could help him achieve that milestone with some Projects I helped him format.

Jay:  If you could have one fantasy date, who would it be and why?
John:  My friends will be stunned by this, but Debra Messing.  I just find her hysterical and I would love to spend an evening just picking her brain.  If not her, definitely Peri Gilpin (Roz from Frasier) – I just find her sassy and funny.

Jay:  Okay, final question…how did you feel when Solstice offered you your first contract?
John:  What’s lighter than air?  Find that object, that’s how I felt.

Jay:  Okay, time for coffee…who’s buying?
John:  Me, of course.  You’re imaginary.

11 Reasons Babylon 5 is better than Star Trek: The Original Series

Things have been way too serious as of late, so it’s time to be a little lighthearted!

11 Reasons Babylon 5 is better than Star Trek!


  • Star Trek:  None to speak of, unless you count Romulan Ale, which you shouldn’t.
  • Babylon 5:  Spoo


  • Star Trek:  Warp Drive – which NASA says could happen in another 50-200 years.
  • Hyperspace:  Based on transdimensional physics theories which are actually in practical experimentation.


  • Star Trek: Transporters – fundamentally flaws due to the fact that consciousness has not been quantified on the scientific level.
  • Babylon 5:  Shuttlecraft – based on sound physics and we already just jet aircraft.


  • Star Trek:  Artificial Gravity – based on some magic device which has never been described
  • Babylon 5:  Humans don’t have it on many ships, others use rotational sections, other races don’t have it, others have gravimetric propulsion systems which generate gravity wells as a useful side effect.


  • Star Trek:  Phasers – based on “fictional” particles called “Nadions” which do “damage” to “Stuff.”
  • Babylon 5:  PPG – a microfusion weapon which uses super heated helium stowed inside a spinning magnetic “wrapper” which “dissolves” on impact, causing damage.


  • Star Trek:  Phasers and Photon Torpedos – magnetic bottles inside tubes containing separate matter and antimatter packages.  When they impact – boom!  When they misfire, very very bad!
  • Babylon 5:  Energy weapons – already in development.


  • Star Trek:  An assortment of humanoid jerks, ranging from tall freaks with ridged foreheads to green-blooded bastards with a trumped up sense of morality.
  • Babylon 5:  Spidery looking superbeings with ships that could make quick work of every incarnation of the Enterprise.


  • Star Trek:  Utopian society in which everything is free, nobody has wants, and Earth is paradise.
  • Babylon 5:  Not much different than today, except now everyone is paranoid about aliens instead of each other.


  • Star Trek:  Captain gets the girls, First Officer is emotionless
  • Babylon 5:  First captain becomes a messiah for an alien race 1,000 years ago, second becomes a messiah for current day.


  • Star Trek:  A billion incarnations (some great, many awful), over a dozen movies, and Paramount Pictures calling the shots.
  • Babylon 5:  A couple of abortive successors to the original, an abortive movie and DVD series, and the creator RETAINS THE RIGHTS!

and of course…the tiebreaker.


  • Star Trek:  Kirk:  Space.  The, final, frontier.  These, are, the voyages, of, the, starship, Enterprise.
  • Babylon 5:  Sheridan:  These are your sons, your daughters, whose loyalties have never wavered; whose belief in this Alliance, has forced us to take extraordinary means.  For peace, for justice, for the future, we have come home!

Hindsight – journalists, Ferguson, and what Americans should know about media

The events in Ferguson, Missouri have drawn attention to our nation’s long-festering racial wounds.  They also have fanned the flames of intolerance on both sides of the aisle, and exposed many for the sort of political attention hogs they really are.  One profession, however, managed to, yet again, besmirch its name, its honor, and the public trust it has been granted.  No, this is about the police.  While they botched their own response, it was actually those who consider themselves the watchdogs for the public. 

The news media, to quote the Big Bang Theory, managed to “screw up the screw up.”

Thanks to Ferguson, Americans distrust journalists as never before.  What’s more, the media managed to actually alienate themselves from not just whites, but also minorities with their behaviors.  At first, residents of Ferguson welcomed the notion of reporters and cameras in their city to document the perceived injustices.  Unfortunately, the media committed a fatal error, and it some outlets may have damaged their credibility beyond repair.

The media bought into its own hype and violated a fundamental tenet of journalism – they actually sought to make themselves the story.

To contrast, the murder of journalist James Foley was an abhorrent act of violence, but one which was covered in accordance with journalism standards.  That can’t be said of the instance of two journalists who were detained by Ferguson police officers.  These journalists chose, rather than focus on the story they were covering, to make the story about their own experiences. A great opportunity was presented to display daily life in the Ferguson jail, document the police officers’ points of view, or even interview those being detained.  Instead, the journalists botched their charge in favor of their ego, tweeting their own experiences.  Credibility would have been earned by tweeting inmate statements instead.  It smacked of the classic opportunistic writer whose only worry was advancing their career.

This segues to five things Americans should understand about journalism as a profession.

  1. Not all writers and journalists, and not all journalists are writers!  It takes a special personality type to be a true journalist, a true reporter, or a true news writer.  The desire to serve the public, rather than be served and adored, is essential for a journalist to excel.  Without that quality, a so-called journalist will eventually turn into an attention hog.
  2. No journalist is 100% objective! Sure, Fox News calls itself “Fair and Balanced,” but note that they don’t advertise themselves as “objective.”  MSNBC never even attempts to promote their network as “objective.”  That is fundamentally impossible.  As journalists are human, their own worldview often influences their writing, their coverage, and how they present the story to readers.  A journalist who grew up in poverty is far more likely to focus on the impoverished that a journalist who grew up in an affluent family.  A sports reporter who played quarterback in high school is more likely to consider baseball boring than a writer whose father coached Little League.  Background and personal experiences influence how journalists do their work.  It’s just that simple.
  3. Media honchos choose the most marketable face, not the best! Would it surprise anyone to know that Fox’s Gretchen Carlson was a former Miss America (1989)?  Would it really stun the world to learn that Anderson Cooper is a Vanderbilt family legacy?  Of course not – because the American media, like it or not, is a business and, as such, it must market itself.  How does it do that?  Look at the faces and voices of your media outlets.  Radio wants smooth and authoritative voices listeners can trust (Atlanta’s Scott Slade of WSB, Tampa Bay’s Jack Harris of WFLA, Vin Scully of the Los Angeles Dodgers).  If they read a script into a microphone, they get the job!  Notwithstanding the actual ability of the aforementioned three, most radio anchors have little to no field experience.  Ditto for news anchors and top field reporters.  While some anchors and hosts get their jobs through honest, hard work and dedication, the vast majority as identified by talent scouts – headhunters whose job is to present potential talent to focus groups for surveys.  Anyone who thinks that MSNBC, CNN and Fox aren’t using some sort of statistical sampling to decide who the stand-ins for Chris Matthews, Gretchen Carlson, and Anderson Cooper will be is smoking a cohiba loaded with enough good stuff to bring down Mr. Ed.  As great and talented as Walter Kronkite and Bob Hite, Sr. were, they represent broadcast journalism’s first generation, before marketers got involved.  Thanks to the latter, we get the Happy Face Barbie and Ken Doll Parade, instead of (mostly) capable reporters.
  4. Some of the most well-known journalists (one way or another) didn’t get a journalism degree! As stunning as it may be to consider, Walter Cronkite never graduated from college, but went on to an illustrious career as America’s most celebrated journalist.  Fox’s Bill O’Reilly’s Bachelors Degree is actually in History (though he did later receive a Masters in Journalism).  Barbara Walters, widely respected as one of America’s pre-eminent female journalists, received a Bachelors in English, while Katie Couric, largely regarded as the modern face of female American journalists, actually received a Bachelors in American Studies.   Oddly enough, these individuals have enjoyed much greater success in their respective media careers than those with Journalism Degrees.
  5. The decision makers of American media don’t give a hoot what you think! The reality is that American media heads are mostly of the opinion that they shape the public opinion to match their content and ideology, not the other way around.  William Randolph Hearst is widely attributed to saying “You provide the pictures, I’ll provide the war,” and that attitude has been carried by most News Directors, Editors, Publishers, and network executives.  The New York Times, News Corp, NBC/Comcast and CNN all work hard every day to shape opinions, rather than respond to the opinions of those who consume their product.  Americans, for the most part, are regarded as lemmings who follow what talking heads on both sides of the ideological aisle dictate, and the media plays to that for one reason – it makes the most money.

It’s an ugly truth to consider, but most journalists are looking for that big, cushy newspaper or network job when incidents such as Ferguson erupt, and that’s because the current generation of big-namers and execs got to where they are mostly by connections or gross self-promotion.  Good, solid, ethical journalists (who are mostly overlooked for one reason or another)  will focus on the story and report – the true foot soldiers who should be protected, but not given extra protection simply because they are the media.  Journalists know the risks of becoming part of the story, rather than simply stand on the sidelines and report the story.  It is the former which has truly put this noble profession at risk of becoming more than reviled – it is now in danger of becoming irrelevant, and that would spell the beginning of end of our great republic.

We as Americans deserve better, and those who style themselves as journalists should behave better. Our nation deserves people who will report the facts, display things as they actually happen, and avoid (to the degree able) injecting their own opinion into any story.  Leave the opining for the real attention hogs – commentators, bloggers (self-deprecating humor there), and politicians.

#PayitforwardATL – let’s expand a great thing!!!

A Starbucks in St. Petersburg, Florida (my old stomping grounds) had been enjoying one of the nation’s longest running streaks of human goodwill and kindness – over 300 customers had chosen to “pay it forward” and buy the next customer’s drinks at that location!  It was a continuous grand act of simple kindness that was broken when an opportunistic local blogger (whose name shall be withheld to prevent additional undeserved attention), chose to break the chain, calling the purchases motivated by “guilt.”

Hogwash, I say!  For that reason alone, and to prove that for every one jerk, there are a thousand great folks out there, I am challenging my family, friends, readers and followers to join the Pay It Forward Coffee Challenge, with Atlanta’s twitter identifier being #PayitforwardATL.  For your area, put in whatever handle you use (TB for Tampa Bay, NYC, Chitown, LA…you get the idea).

Here’s how it works – the next time you are in Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, or Krispy Kreme insist on picking up the drink tab for the person behind you.  Then simply ask them to “pay it forward” as the legendary movie said.  The goal of this is simple – get a chain of human kindness and compassion going and let’s start healing this crazy world.

ONLY ONE REQUEST:  Please tweet a picture of your receipt with the Payitforward hashtag for your area.  This will help raise awareness.

I did my part tonight – the tab I covered for a father and his child – $7.17.  Since I was willing to put my money where my mouth is, I challenge all of Atlanta and the State of Georgia to do the same.  Let’s show these cynics who think it’s all about guilt what it means to be American – we are, after all, the most generous nation on the face of the earth!!!

By the way, it would be a shame to just limit this to one or two cities – it would be REALLY cool if we could get this thing going NATIONALLY!!!!

Insecurity, Thy Name is Author!

KateMarie has it right!


Good morning! I hope everyone has a great week.

Me? I struggled a little. Okay, more than a little. For a day, I gave into the hopeless insecurity that plagues every author. 

When sales are low, and you’ve done a push in promotion without any results, it’s hard. It becomes a real struggle to put words to paper on a work in progress. To chat with readers. Even to go on your favorite social media site and put up a status that doesn’t paint you as whiny or begging for sales. You begin to lose sight of why you started this process to begin with. You wonder, to yourself, what’s the point of writing when no one can be bothered to even read what you wrote.

You take the lack of sales personally. You see it as a reflection of who you are as not just an author, but a…

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James Foley died with honor, even though those who killed him have none


Journalist James Foley, this week, met his end as so many other journalists and chronicles have over the centuries; at the tip of a blade.  His death was that in the pursuit of a noble calling – telling the story of pain, suffering, corruption and abuse of power in a part of the world in which a power vacuum exists, and said vacuum is being filled by thugs, murderers, sociopaths and radicals all justifying their pathological blood lust through religion.

First, let’s get something straight – James Foley was murdered, not executed.

Execution implies some degree of legal standing – that the person who dies did, indeed, have some means, however limited, of legal recourse (even Soviet Russia had some methods of appeal, even if they were mostly for show).  ISIS, IS, ISIL, or whatever-the-hell this organization (using THAT word loosely) is this week, is a collection of individuals who have chosen to use brutality and violence as a means to draw attention to themselves.  Much like the narcissistic serial killer uses murder as a means to be paid attention to and remembered, ISIL is little more than a semi-organized group of mostly murderers.  It would not be inconceivable, upon further study, to learn that the vast majority of iSIL members are, indeed, sociopathic maniacs.  But now comes word that the group demanded $1.32 million from Foley’s family and that just adds insult to injury.

We need to face a simple fact about ISIL – they are not a state.  They are not even a legitimate political movement, and they barely qualify as an organization of any sort, let alone terrorist.  What they are, essentially, is a gang – their methods are sloppy, their tactics are grotesque, and their ideology is hollow.  Please, don’t lecture me about Islam being a violent religion; ISIL is not, repeat, not a religious group; they are a paramilitary movement (again, the latter two words used loosely at best) who are using the press and social media to advance their goal, which is the establishment of what they call an “Islamic Caliphate.”

Cut through the code and see them for what they really are – they want to rule the world, reshape it the way they think it should be (in this case, a world ruled under Islamic sharia law and likely by the most brutal and cunning among their own lot) and bring the world to a tipping point where Armageddon will occur and their view of how Islam should be practiced will win out.  ISIL take radical fundamentalist brutality to a brutal new level in that, if they are truly believing their religious tenets (and it is my firm belief that if there was nothing in it for them, they would collapse within seconds), are an example of how power, money and a warped, narcissistic sense of superiority all pervert the original message.  James Foley was trying to document this perversion and other injustices in this region, and he paid the price for his own personal crusade by being murdered.  In a sick sort of irony, how he died may have, in fact, marked the beginning of the end of this sort of twisted brutality.

Muslim voices around the world have been quick to condemn this murder, and hopefully it will galvanize the movement against radical Islam as never before.  Perhaps, for the first time ever, Muslims worldwide are actually seeing this sort of fanaticism for what it really is – an radical movement borne not of feelings of inadequacy and disenfranchisement, but of greed, avarice and a desire to oppress to satisfy deep-seated insecurities.  Whatever the reason, no one has the right to take the life of another except in self-defense. The murderer who severed Foley’s head may want to consider that their action is likely to be repaid upon them.  It is the rare killer who experiences mercy at karma’s hand.

In a previous entry, I wrote about how journalists must be regarded much the same as the Tribunes of ancient Rome; sacrosanct because they are the voice of not just the people, but of the truth.  Foley, as far as I am concerned, is deserving of a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom and Nobel Prize.

My hope is that James Foley, wherever he is, can forgive his killers.  This is a man who deserves to be remembered for the one thing he was chasing – his passion.  We should all die so honorably.

A petition has been created on the White House website to have President Obama award James Foley a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom.  Please click here to sign it and get it to 100,000 by September 20, 2014.