Opening day gives owner the jitters

Published April 4, 2006

BALTIMORE - Stuart Sternberg didn't expect to be this excited.

For months, the Devil Rays new principal owner has targeted the April 10 home opener as the milestone moment in his tenure, the day the team, refurbished stadium and renovated franchise would be unveiled for the Tampa Bay fans.

But when he left his hotel room and rode to Camden Yards for Monday's game, when he looked around the clubhouse, when he chatted briefly with the players in the dugout and wished them luck, he realized he had severely miscalculated.

"I didn't think it was going to be as much, but it is," he said. "I anticipated next Monday would be opening day, I didn't anticipate today."

He wondered if the players were as excited, and if they shared his optimism. Though he didn't want to make any predictions - except to say there would be far more wins than what he has been reading in the papers - he clearly expects better days ahead.

"It's my first first day and their opening day," Sternberg said. "It's probably more special for me than all of them at this point. I just expect that we're going to have some success this year.

"Everyone seems pretty pumped. I would guess the attitude is a little bit different. The expectations I think are a bit higher this year. Although I have nothing to base that on, it sounds like they are a bit higher."