"So I said to them, We're playing half the season in Montreal!"  Photo: Mike Carlson (Getty)  Every student with self-respect in crazy machiavellian gambits should be familiar with the Madman theory, the strategy invented by Richard Nixon to win the Vietnam War. The theory given by Nixon's chief of staff H. R. Haldeman after his release from prison for his role in Watergate was as follows:
"I call it the Madman theory, Bob. I want the North Vietnamese to believe that I have reached the point where I could do anything to stop the war. We will only give them the word that, "For God's sake, you know that Nixon is obsessed with communism." We can not hold him back when he's angry – and he has his hand on the nuclear button & Ho Chi Minh himself will be in Paris in two days asking for peace. "
Historians will notice that this did not work out well.
This, of course, brings us to Stuart Sternberg and the current madness that engulfs the Tampa Bay Rays franchise. Last week, the owner of the Rays, who for years tried and failed and failed and failed to get someone to buy him a new stadium somewhere in the Tampa Bay area that confuses SportWorld with the approval of the MLB, two new stadiums, one in Florida and one in Montreal. When Sternberg plays games in the south in the cold and in the north in the heat, he could maximize the willingness of two fan bases to leave the house to watch baseball and emulate the bird-invented adjustment strategy (unlike the Rays). Our feathered friends apparently began in the north and worked their way south.]
This week Sternberg held a press conference detailing that this was no leverage and he was absolutely serious about home games in two cities, the 1300 miles apart, and at an international border impervious to chocolate eggs, and as this would provoke "an economic impact" in the spring of Canadians in Florida, but somehow no economic outflow of Florida in Canada summer, because economy OK?
There are many, many reasons why this is unlikely – the construction of two new stadiums would cost more than one, even if the annual immigration meant that they could dispense with roofs; Two moody fans would have more reason to ignore the local half-team if they would pack their bags forever to leave. Players would be reluctant to pick up and relocate their families every June – most of which were explained last week by Barry Petchesky. (Jay Jaffe of FanGraphs further notes that neither city has an outstanding MLB attendance record and Montreal has already had a bad experience with a team timeshare system.)
However, Sternberg does not need a two-country solution to to work. He only needs that people think he thinks it will work. As Nixon tried in Vietnam, he reckons that L & # 39; Montréal's affair serves less as a legitimate threat to half a move, but rather as a sign of how far he is willing to go to get what he wants.
Let's take a look at this from Sternberg's point of view. (Please don your open pastel shirt and fill your wallet with one hundred million dollar bills for this exercise.) In May 2004, the former vampire squid stalwart spent $ 200 million to gain control of the then-Rays Acquire more than six years in an experiment as to whether Florida sports fans would turn out in bulk to see a team that had never cut higher than last. (That did not work out too well.)
Through a user agreement (such as a lease, but with larger teeth) tied to the heinous and impractical Tropicana field, which prohibited him from doing so, with a sentence of a The Court's injunction Sternberg said: his only option was to negotiate for a new stadium in a city, to hate fans and to show no interest in wasting untold taxpayer money on him, or to wait until 2028, and by what time He's almost done. He's 70 years old and has spent the heyday of his Middle Ages watching his baseball team play in relative privacy.
Option three would be natural to spend your own money on a new stadium, but you will not be a hundred millionaire in spending his own money.)
Sternberg's first step was to help the mayor of St. Petersburg, Rick Kriseman, a three-year window to negotiate a small payout in exchange for a stadium deal on the Bay in Tampa, if he succeeded. Theoretically, this was a great idea, but it caught on Sternberg's face when it turned out that Tampa did not have the income he needed to get as much stadium money as he wanted (ie, almost everything), and had him crawled back to St Pete with another nine long years Trop lease.
We may never know the name of the city attorney who wrote this utility agreement in 1995, but including a clause that the city might seek an injunction against Even talking about a move, on the grounds that this would "lead to irreparable damage and damage that is not easily calculable" was a genius move that shifted all bargaining power to the city as long as the agreement was in full force. But when speaking to other cities was forbidden, speaking about speaking was a very different story. And here we come back to Nixon's madman: Sternberg does not have to be serious about dividing the time between two cities or even moving to Montreal. (It is difficult to compare US and Canadian market sizes as the two nations calculate them differently, but there are about four million people living in Montreal 's metro area, and in Tampa Bay about three Montreal have the disadvantage of tickets in spinners Rather, it only has to make external observers take themselves seriously, despite the seemingly obvious stupidity of such a move – and how can we better show the world that one is a mad millionaire, than to hold a press conference where one talks about how much one loves Sandy Koufax, that one names his son after him and loves St. Petersburg So much that you would like to keep the natives from doing so to watch baseball all summer?
So, what happens next? Under normal circumstances, a team owner flew to Montreal to eat a couple of bagels and pretend to speak French to better home, how serious he is about part-time emigration. But this way would almost certainly trigger this omission clause – in fact, Kriseman has already noted that the Rays can not move without his consent before 2028, and called the current public uproar " a bit silly ". and then he had his city attorney sit and watch the Sternberg press conference video to see if the owner of the Rays said anything viable to Sternberg to sit back and wait. If nothing else, Kriseman might think he'd be better off taking a bit of buy-out money and the right to redesign the potentially valuable Trop site than taking another eight years of that nonsense.
And one day we remembered the ExRays as another weird footnote in the history of the stadium shakedowns, along with the contraction of the Minnesota Twins and the floating stadium of the San Diego Padres. As far as the signs are mixed – although Kriseman has breached contracts, he has also extended an offer to work on a new stadium in St. Pete, as long as Sternberg breaks off this conversation in two cities . But as any teenager or US president can tell you, sometimes it's more important to attract attention and less importantly what kind of attention it is.