© St. Petersburg Times, published May 27, 2001
Welcome John McHale. For those of you not familiar with the gent entrusted to turning around our beloved Rays, let's recap his recent career path.
Eight years ago: Mile high in Denver with a new stadium.
Five years ago: Sea level in Detroit with a new stadium on the way.
Today: Six feet under in St. Petersburg with a Mausoleum already in place.
We hope there's some magic still left in your hat, or that you at least received a pain-and-suffering bonus for the job. Otherwise we could be witnessing another Castilla-esque career decline in the works. Let's hope not.
-- Paul Stockinger, Cleveland
Enough with the negativity. Ten years ago, this area was a hotbed for baseball. Frankly, this area needs to regain this despite the present status of our franchise. Are the team, front office and ownership not living up to expectations? You bet. Will this improve? We certainly hope so. National news stories highlight our problems and rumor the possible loss of our team. Steps need to be taken by the Tampa Bay community (corporate and individual) as well as the Devil Rays.
Fans need to attend more games. True fans are not frontrunners. The Devil Rays need to amend their marketing strategy and make good seats more affordable. How about a half-price day?
Are the concessions too high? You bet. The Rays should consider specials.
Wake up Tampa Bay, this is your team. Support it. And wake up Devil Rays, this is your community. Work with it, don't squeeze it.
-- Bob Byelick, St. Petersburg
How comforting it is to know in this time of mourning over Hubert Mizell's retirement, Marc Topkin is ready to pick up his mantle of grumbling about player salaries.
I understand the roots of the "these guys get millions to play a kids' game," and the jealousy that we all feel because we would like to be major-league players too. If Bay area residents aren't going to pay to watch Aubrey Huff try to play third base, they sure aren't going to pay to watch Marc Topkin try. My advice to him is to get over it.
Baseball is a highly specialized skill that requires a vast amount of talent, and only a few will ever have the talent it takes. Even fewer will ever be really great.
True, $25.2-million sounds like a grotesque amount of money, but consider that baseball is entertainment. In that field, Alex Rodriguez would rank about No. 38, just ahead of Rosie O'Donnell and right behind film producer Jerry Bruckheimer. Some interesting people doing better than A-Rod are Paul Harvey ($29-million), Howard Stern ($30-million) and Rush Limbaugh ($31-million). My favorite is teen sensation Britney Spears ($38.5-million), who has limited singing ability, doesn't write her songs and plays no instrument. In the music world this is akin to giving Paul Wilson $25-million.
Doubling Rodriguez's salary would pull him about even with Mike Tyson. But he would have to increase his salary six-fold to even get close to Oprah Winfrey.
-- David Horning, St. Petersburg
On May 18, during the Devil Rays' 18-2 loss to the Tigers, a group of youngsters with no musical talent banged on drums continuously during the game, even when the ball was in play. Needless to say it made a bad baseball experience worse.
Was the drum beating meant to distract the Tigers so they could perform as poorly as the Devil Rays? Or was the drum beating meant to inspire the Devil Rays to seek new major-league records for most errors, most wild pitches and most hit batsmen. The play-by-play announcers in the booth Sunday indicated these untalented drum bangers were to appear at every Devil Rays home game the rest of the season. I've decided to seek solitude and give my ears a rest.
-- Richard Letvin, Trinity
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