The Media tries to spin him as a savior-to-be for the Devil Rays and the fans are firmly behind it as well, but what is Stuart Sternberg's real intentions with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays?
Sternberg bought out most of ownership of the Devil Rays in 2004 and has kept tight-lipped for the most part about the team. When he has spoken, he has talked about the Rays as a long term investment, and about how he wishes to build with youth... focusing on a few key players to form a nucleus.
Lightning fans know this story and know that it can work, but the Devil Rays are not the Lightning, nor is Stu a William Davidson. With a young nucleus already in place, Sternberg refuses to bring in the key element of veteran leadership to help guide younger players... It's part of a master plan but one has to wonder what that plan is?
When Lou Piniella went off yesterday on Sternberg, he basically made it known in public that Stu is calling the shots more than he lets on from his distant perch. Earlier in the season, Stu spoke to Lou as well as Chuck LaMar and after those meetings it was announced to the fans that there would be no trades, no call ups of key prospects like BJ "All Hit, no Glove" Upton or Delmon Young. Arbitration eligibility and Free Agency supposedly factored into this decision, but there's something more there than meets the eye.
A Major League owner cannot simply sit back and be happy with his team playing a lame duck season (Sternberg is supposedly set to take control of the Rays in 2006) - as the Rays are doing now - unless something is in the cards.
Yesterday, when I voiced my aggrivation at the fanbase blaming Piniella for the teams ills, I made mention of Mrs. Rachel Phelps -- the fictional owner of the Cleveland Indians in Major League. For those who can't recall, Phelps wanted the Indians to finish dead last in order to get out of the lease in Cleveland and relocate the franchise to Miami.
It's no secret that Tropicana Field was dated upon it's opening and it's no secret that a new stadium has been desired -- Bud Selig made mention of it last season, Lou made mention of it just days ago.... I firmly believe Stu will come in from his perch within the next few months and issue an ultimatium: "Build me a new stadium or I relocate the franchise to (insert city here)."
How many of you believe that either side of Tampa Bay would pay to keep around this monstrosity of a team by building a new stadium?
While message boards and blogs ring naive hope and fans only see the possibility that things will get brighter in St. Petersburg with Stuart Sternberg in control, I can only see the negative that the lack-of-intentions of Sternberg are fostering. His silence is deafening and borders upon neglect. The Rays will continue to be a lame duck franchise until Sternberg comes forward, and things are looking as if they will remain lame duck until the investment opportunity through relocation or contraction forces Stu's hand.