For those keeping score:
Lilliputian - Lil·li·pu·tian | \ ˌli-lə-ˈpyü-shən- noun - a trivial or very small person or thing.
We have covered a lot of ground describing the mendacity of the majority of the MLB owners that came to light during the recent lockout. With the lockout over, two specific owners are going into the figurative pickle barrel for this portion of the series: John J. Fisher, owner of the Oakland Athletics, and Stuart Sternberg, owner of the Tampa Bay Rays. However, in order to truly dive into these two bad apples, I am going to split Part 4 in two, discussing Mr. Fisher in the first part and Mr. Sternberg in the second.
I should state that I am not implying that the two owners that are getting my focus and ire in this portion of the series bathe in oil ala Baron Harkonnen in Dune. But that revelation would not surprise me in the least, and I cannot in good conscience even suggest such an act. Therefore, I use the above clip to set the tone.
I made John J. Fisher, owner of the Oakland Athletics, the face of this essay, even though he is NOT the worst owner. There is a genuine argument right now that there is something truly rotten in Cincinnati, but that will have to wait for another day - or at least until I have taken my shot at a certain gondola. But, let us focus up - John J. Fisher is a notorious recluse and he’s the heir to the Gap fortune. Accordingly, I wanted an excuse to channel my inner J.K. Simmons in indignation. If I were to ask you who was the poorest MLB Owner (and if you didn’t know the name of the owner - you’d probably guess the team), who would you guess? Be honest. You’d likely say the Oakland A’s. This essay was initially premised on you saying the Oakland A’s. Heck, there is an entire movie about this premise!
Yes, the Oakland A’s owner is played by Exhibit A by incredibly problematic Former Activision CEO Bobby Kotick. If this site were one devoted to video games, plenty of personal invective would be directed at Kotick. But you would be wrong in thinking that the Oakland Athletics are in fact the “poorest” team in the Majors. But we have previously discussed how Bob Castellini has stripped the Cincinnati Reds for parts 3 and 3.5. And in the interim of publication, the situation has actually gotten worse.
There is a rot in American baseball and it is the small-market owner, who is often a billionaire, attempting to extort the municipality the team resides in for an everlasting stream of money. It’s Gulliver’s Travels run amok. Today, we take a critical look at what the Oakland Athletics are doing to their current city. We once again use the work of YouTuber UrinatingTree, Steve Linkowski, known to his fans as Tree, to succinctly tell the tale of one of the two, arguably most abusive-to-fan franchises in American professional sports.
Lilliputian’s Wrath, Part 1: The Oakland Athletics
Tree Discusses the Looming Fire Sale in Oakland in 2022
The below video is worth watching in its entirety, as it was produced in the midst of the most recent lockout. While erroneous in its conclusion as to blame for the lockout, Tree succinctly describes the Athletics' 2020 offseason decisions where they refused to bring back both Marcus Semien and Liam Hendricks, who both went on to have spectacular seasons for the Blue Jays and White Sox, respectively. The fate of the Oakland Athletics only got worse from there as the replacements from Semien and Hendricks were wildly inferior due to ineffectiveness or injury.
As Tree’s video points out, if the problems with the Oakland Athletics were only on the field, then the team would just be another bad baseball team ala the Rockies, the Tigers, etc. But the rot runs deeper. Tree’s video highlights several points that this essay will cover.
My thoughts on the Dodgers extending Dave Roberts are well known. But when Bob Melvin, a decorated field manager, took a lateral job to manage the Padres, that move should have sent a clear signal that the fix was in. The Oakland A’s have decided that they do not want to even pretend to be competitive anymore, slashing their payroll from a shade over $100 million dollars in 2021, after luxury tax calculations, to approximately $48 million dollars at the start of the 2022 season. Normally, you need artillery to level a franchise as drastically.
And level the franchise they have, in the span of a week, the Athletics did the following:
- 03/12/22 Oakland Athletics traded RHP Chris Bassitt to New York Mets for RHP Adam Oller and RHP J.T. Ginn.
- 03/14/22 Oakland Athletics traded 1B Matt Olson to Atlanta Braves for CF Cristian Pache, C Shea Langeliers, RHP Ryan Cusick and RHP Joey Estes.
- 03/16/22 Oakland Athletics traded 3B Matt Chapman to Toronto Blue Jays for LHP Zach Logue, RHP Gunnar Hoglund, LHP Kirby Snead and SS Kevin Smith.
I suppose the Dodger equivalent would be to imagine the Dodgers trading off Walker Buehler, Mookie Betts, and Will Smith in the span of a week. If Andrew Friedman were to do that series of trades, the majority of you would, rightfully, lose your collective minds. Rightfully, you would go ballistic. The problem is that we are not used to such shenanigans. Unfortunately, Athletics fans are.
The Athletics arguably got a decent return in the Olson trade, but as far as I have been able to tell, their returns in the Bassitt and Chapman trade seem fairly light. Heck, the Bassitt trade occurred during a fan-run rally where Chris Bassitt-autographed gear was being auctioned off. The following video contains the fans’ collective resignation at the news.
But there’s still one more major piece on the board—oh, never mind.
- 04/03/22 Oakland Athletics traded LHP Sean Manaea and RHP Aaron Holiday to San Diego Padres for RHP Adrian Martinez and 2B Euribiel Angeles.
So, in the above Dodgers hypothetical, Julio Urías also got traded about two weeks later.
At this point, old friend-Frankie Montas is probably the best player left on their 40-man roster. And it would be quite surprising if Young Master Montas was still suiting up for Oakland by the trade deadline. At least our contemporaries at Athletics Nation have no delusions about how bad the upcoming season is going to be:
Athletics Nation, _Wally_, April 7, 2022:
I’m going to say it simply: This year is going to be bad. As we recently saw, projection systems have the A’s around 70 wins. However, these projections often mute the extremes born out in real life. They, by design, don’t try to capture feedback systems, such as when the team is bad, that team sells off its tradable assets. For the A’s, it is entirely possible Montas, Laureano, Lou Trivino, or even Murphy could be traded by July. Because of this, and inherent uncertainty in predicting human performance, the A’s could easily lose 100 games this year – something they haven’t done since 1979.
Unlike 2008, the A’s recent trades do not show evidence that they want to be competitive again in the very near future. Though the Matt Olson trade, which brought in Cristian Pache and Shea Langeliers, had me thinking they would go this direction, none of the other three trades focused on close to MLB-ready talent as the headliner prospect. So, instead of watching a handful of exciting new prospects either make the Opening Day roster or get mid-season callups, we have Pache, a few lower-tier prospects, and a collection of misfit players from years past.
Accordingly, you might think that the fan would revolt in Oakland due to the direction that John Fisher is taking the franchise. You would be wrong as that revolt technically already started last season.
The Fan Revolt in Oakland
While researching this piece, it seemed like every time I turned around the Athletics were doing something rotten to the people of Oakland and there was still a core, dedicated group of fans that kept coming out. Until they did not, but to understand why we need some context.
In 2005, John J. Fisher purchased the Oakland Athletics as part of an ownership group. After the 2016 season and a last-place 69-93 record, John J. Fisher became full owner of the team. For context, in the 2016 season, Oakland had a paid season attendance of 1,521,506 (averaging 18,784 tickets sold per game), which was next to last in league total attendance. In Fisher’s first full year of complete control, the A’s were in last place with a 75–87 record, and the A’s had a paid season attendance of 1,475,721 (averaging 18,446 tickets sold per game), which was still next to last in league total attendance.
In the last full year before the pandemic, 2019, the A’s made the playoffs and had their best annual attendance in the Fisher era with a paid season attendance of 1,662,211 (averaging 20,521 tickets sold per game), which was good enough for 24th in league total attendance. In contrast, in 2019, the Dodgers had a sliver under 4 million in total attendance (averaging just over 49,000 tickets sold per game). When doing initial research on John J. Fisher’s shenanigans, I noticed how the majority of teams in baseball (apart from the Dodgers) have a major attendance problem, which is the point of Part 5.
Based on the following trends, considering that the A’s were in the postseason hunt until the last week of the season last year, even without Hendricks and Semien, you would expect a bump in attendance. And you would be completely wrong.
Last year, Oakland had 701,430 in paid season attendance, averaging 8,767 tickets sold per game, which was somehow only next to last in league total attendance. Only the Marlins were worse (642,617 (average of 7,933)). In comparison, the Dodgers led the league with around 2.8 million in paid season attendance. And while you might be tempted to blame COVID restrictions, it’s worth remembering that the Coliseum was fully open for business starting on June 29, 2021. Admittedly, of the five California stadiums, it was the last to fully reopen to the public. This overall drop in attendance was not unnoticed locally at the time.
The Mercury News, Shayna Rubin, June 30, 2021:
The Oakland Coliseum opened up to 100 percent capacity for the first time since the COVID pandemic for the A’s game against the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night to a surprisingly empty house.
The A’s drew just 4,739 fans after averaging 5,510 for the 42 limited capacity games, the fewest fans for an “open” Coliseum game in 24 years.
Overall, the A’s rank second-to-last in the majors in average home attendance, better than only the Blue Jays, who have been forced to play at their minor league affiliate ballparks this season, first at Dunedin, Florida and now in Buffalo, New York, until Canada allows the team to travel in and out of the country....
...But the A’s are fighting for another division title and had drawn fairly well earlier in the season, attracting several crowds of more than 7,000 despite health restrictions that capped capacity at 12,000.
The empty house was even more dramatic juxtaposed with the crowds of 35,000-plus the A’s played in front of during the Bay Bridge Series over the weekend at Oracle Park, the first games at that facility played without COVID restrictions.
Again, if fans were staying away because the team was bad, that situation would be understandable. But last year, the 2021 Athletics were seemingly held together with duct tape and pluck and still nearly made it back to the postseason. In fact, the entirely foreseeable event of a fan revolt has reached another gear prior to publication.
A solitary question remains: why are the fans staying away from the Coliseum?
The Hostile Work Environment: The Oakland Coliseum and the Athletics’ relationship to the City of Oakland
At this point, it’s worth talking about the festering sore that is the Oakland Coliseum. As of the time of this essay, I have been to sixteen of the 30 ballparks in the Major Leagues. The worst park I have been to, by a long shot is the Oakland Coliseum. It’s old, it’s dingy, getting to it is a chore be it by car or by public transit. Actually watching the game at the Coliseum is a chore as well due to the design of the stadium. At the risk of spoiling the Oakland page of the Guide: if you do not sit behind home plate, you better have either brought friends to goof off with or some way to listen to the game. Sitting down the lines is an absolutely terrible experience due to how much further away from the action you are. Oh, and at times, the Coliseum has had active sewage problems, but not during games, unlike the Washington Commanders’ FedEx Field. (Shout out to Adam Jaxson aka FivePointsVids for the excellent video).
In a development that arose just before publication, news broke that the Coliseum is overrun with feral cats with an estimated over 100 feral cats living at the Coliseum. Don’t panic though, says the county government because, without the cats, the Coliseum would be overrun with rats. Apparently, the Alameda County government was surprised that the news latched onto the story of the feral cats, and a plan is being developed to help control the cat population at the Coliseum. No word if Bob Barker is getting involved.
With all that said, before getting into what the A’s did in relation to the stadium. We have to go back to 2014, which was the last time that the team threatened to move. Accordingly, the team got a team-friendly, ten-year lease extension. In the interim, the local NBA team and the local NFL team were making preparations to leave Oakland, by building a gaudy arena near Oracle Park or slowly slinking out the backdoor to head to Las Vegas to play in a giant, stationary Roomba.
The Athletics started using the phrase “Rooted in Oakland,” if only to show that the team was not going anywhere, after seemingly, endlessly antagonizing the City of Oakland, especially in the face of both the Warriors and the Raiders leaving town. In 2019, the team seemingly turned a corner with its relationship with the Town by ditching the season ticket model and switching to a membership model.
[Note: the local phrase is to call San Francisco, “the City,” while Oakland is “the Town.” And yes, I probably hate that usage even more than you do.]
In fact, let us now turn to our contemporaries at Athletics Nation to better tell the tale.
Athletics Nation, Billy Frijoles, August 25, 2021:
In the first year of A’s Access, the team doubled its previous season ticket base, to over 9,500 members, and the average member was 11 years younger than the previous year. Like a gym membership, it was an auto-renewing monthly fee, that gave access to every home game, set seats for at least 10 games, and nice discounts on food, drinks, parking and merchandise. It was a smashing success.
Attendance improved by over 6% year over year (overall MLB attendance did not change in the same time period). That improvement was despite playing in the same old stadium in the same old location.
Moreover, more loyal fans were being cultivated, while making it incredibly easy to bring new fans into the fold. The scene at the Treehouse was poppin’ every game. The team finally started to hit the cool dive bar vibe, and fans were proud to be fans of a team that was winning and treating their fans well.
Beyond the tangible financial benefits, there was a warmth that came with the A’s Access. That the fans felt welcome, appreciated, and not (like almost all modern sports) stratified according to wealth level.
The program was wildly popular. For 2020, 95% of current members confirmed their renewals, nearly immediately. Likely a good number of new memberships were added.
I can attest to how useful this model was. My old firm’s annual gathering was at the Coliseum as the partner had banked an entire section of tickets for the office to sit in. Granted, all the other problems I previously listed remained, but if I were an A’s fan, there’s a perk to discounted snacks and access to as many games as I wanted.
So what happened? COVID-19 for starters, but Mr. Frijoles detailed what happened once the fans were allowed to return to the Coliseum.
However, when fans were finally allowed back, it was under a very murky set of circumstances.
Parking was raised to $30, because...covid?
Seats were sold only in sets of 2 or 4, because...covid?
Tickets were priced insanely high (in some cases $50 and up for bad seats), because...covid?
Concession prices went up, because...covid?
No membership discounts were to be had, because...covid?
In an already nervous environment, coming off a year of economic hardship and slow recovery for many folks, the A’s decided to push an expensive and confusing “Flex” Tix package rather than just keep things simple, cheap, and welcome fans back who were willing to come back to games.
The results have of course been disastrous.
The bottom line is that even Giants tickets, in a much more desirable ballpark environment in the same market, with a much higher payroll, have routinely been cheaper than A’s tickets. In what world does that make sense?
The A’s delayed their full reopening, stuck with the vastly expensive parking and concessions, refused to sell memberships to people who would have gladly bought them again, and ticket prices were minimum $25 per ticket for the least desirable 3rd deck seats, and more for some games. The 3rd deck of course remained very, very empty, save for the three games of the Bay Bridge Series.
The $30 for parking was especially galling, given that for the majority of the season, BART [author’s note: Bay Area Rapid Transit] was not even running trains past 10:00-ish, and therefore a dicey option if you wanted to take BART to any night game.
So, in response to having no fans in 2020, the Athletics decided to raise parking costs to be higher than Dodger Stadium ($30 vs. $25 - in an area that far sketchier with limited access to public transit), while taking away all of the benefits of the previous program. All of the above conditions were happening simultaneously having tickets to Athletics’ games be more expensive than the cross-bay San Francisco Giants. It is worth pointing out that the Giants have a much nicer stadium in just about every single way.
And John Fisher’s squeezing of figurative blood from the stone of Oakland somehow got even worse for 2022, when you factor in the fire sale as described above and the fact that ticket prices went up again. If you are thinking, hey, all of these actions seem awfully familiar, you would be right. You likely have seen the movie.
I don’t see Wesley Snipes or Charlie Sheen coming to help this version of the Athletics. Fans of the Athletics are obviously quite unhappy with the ongoing situation. Even the movie comparison was not lost on them.
SFGate, Alex Espinoza, March 21, 2022:
A’s Access has since been scrapped, and there’s been a remarkable rise in ticket prices in the years since, pandemic be damned. I recently sent out a tweet to A’s season-ticket holders, to see exactly how much their prices have increased since the last “normal” season in 2019. One fan said his ticket package increased nearly 71 percent from its 2019 price, jumping from $2,400 to $4,100. For a half-season down the left-field line, another fan’s price more than doubled from $2,400 in 2019 to $4,900 in 2022. Twitter user @LimaTime1020 said his second-deck seats went from $2,950 in 2019 to $6,500 in 2022. Another fan’s partial season ticket package on the first deck near home plate more than doubled from $711 to $1,587 over the past three years, and she didn’t renew. A second-deck season ticket holder opted out in 2022 after her price jumped from $1,400 in 2019 to $2,600 this year.
We’re talking about a rise in prices for the very same concrete-slabbed Coliseum the franchise is trying desperately to escape. The same Coliseum that’s been the bane of the franchise’s existence this millennium. The same Coliseum that’s not undergoing any major renovations. Attendance is bound to be putrid and become a major storyline....
...With that context, it’s impossible to justify how the franchise could decimate its on-field product this winter while simultaneously raising ticket prices at alarming rates. The A’s could have made another run at the 2022 postseason with just a bare minimum investment, a sign to the fanbase that they cared even a little bit. They opted not to do so. If the franchise is clearly hitting the reset button and essentially mortgaging this season for the future, why should fans have to pay more to see a rebuild?...
Mr. Espinoza is wrong about one fact though: the Commissioner’s Office is already in on the “fix.” We all have to pretend to be surprised when the Athletics end up in Las Vegas once their lease expires.
Moreover, I would be remiss if I failed to mention that last year, A’s President Dave Kaval tweeted from a Las Vegas Golden Knight Playoff game, while the Athletics were currently playing at home against the Mariners. Don’t believe me? Well...
And in case, that tweet was too subtle for the team’s disdain for Oakland, less than two weeks prior, Mr. Kaval pinned the following tweet to his account:
I can only summarize the Fisher’s relationship with the City of Oakland as follows:
Need further proof? Well, the material for this essay is the gift that just won’t stop:
A's rank last in MLB in payroll. In a new ballpark, A's in the top 10?— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) April 18, 2022
"100%," president Dave Kaval says.
Tonight, the home opener, at the home they keep failing to escape. Don't be confused: Low attendance this season is the symptom, not the illness.https://t.co/9UFJ8LENkz
In case I have to bust out the charts again —
No, not the charts! Come on, man, this essay is already long enough!
Inconceivable. The Athletics payroll at the end of last season, for luxury tax purposes, was about $102.7 million dollars, good enough for 24th in the league. After the fire sale in the offseason, Spotrac estimates the Athletic’s payroll as of publication in 2022, at about $53.4 million, which is literally about half of what it was. The tenth-highest payroll in baseball in 2021 was the Chicago White Sox at approximately $177.8 million dollars.
If you are telling me that the Oakland Athletics are going to magically spend $125 million dollars at the drop of a hat, after (figuratively) extorting, er convincing a municipality to build a taxpayer-funded stadium, there is a ballpark in San Francisco, I’d love to sell you. They have weak garlic fries and arguably gaudy colors, but it’s nice otherwise. There’s a bit of a bird problem though - that’s okay - it’s a fix-upper!
To summarize, the above-described series of decisions regarding the treatment of Oakland’s fans makes total business sense...if you are trying to alienate your fans to the point you can attempt to leverage your city (or a new city) for a new stadium. And if you think you have seen this movie before out of Oakland, you have - it was just with football pads for a team that passive-aggressively ended up in Las Vegas. But there is a sliver of “hope” to keep the team in Oakland...which is something to do until the current lease expires in two years.
The Howard Terminal Plan
One would think that if local funds were invested into the Coliseum site, you could renovate or at least attempt to breathe new life into the Athletics playing in Oakland. But apparently, there is a lack of political will and a general lack of interest to take that approach. I do not have a dog in this fight, so I will defer to the wisdom of others to this point.
Therefore, the current plan to keep the team in Oakland is to relocate and build a stadium in Howard Terminal, which is currently an industrial site, near Jack London Square just outside downtown Oakland. I used to live minutes away from Howard Terminal during my brief stay in Oakland. I was not impressed with the neighborhood, and frankly, I am less impressed with the proposed plan.
I have spent some time in this exact area where this proposed development would occur. In my view, to call this plan, where the A’s pay one/twelfth of the overall cost, while 11 billion dollars comes from ...somewhere...to revitalize an industrial area seems far-fetched at best. To be fair, it is a terrible political strategy to say “hey, Athletics, this bad plan is our only plan and you should either take it or leave it.” No team would do that - they would move and attempt to squeeze cash from a new set of marks. Moreover, while the Athletics have been given permission to start looking into relocation to another city if they outright say “hey, we’re leaving Oakland - smell ya later!” they lose leverage with wherever they would go and the team would likely drive away that tiny contingent of fans that still is coming out to the ballpark. From our perspective as Dodger fans, this scenario has become a failed marriage where no one can publicly say it’s over and start moving on with their lives (mostly because the lease is not up yet).
But as there is still time to play these efforts out, which is ironic considering that baseball does not have a clock, we press on, by going over the plan.
The above rendering is not the most recent design for the proposed new home of the Athletics. The below rendering is and thankfully, the stadium no longer looks like a picnic basket, as it sort of looks like a potting vase.
In order to see a version of the Howard Terminal plan made real, the devil as always is in the details.
The Reporter, Shayna Rubin, April 23, 2021:
The Oakland A’s proposed ballpark and development project at Howard Terminal is expected to cost $12 billion, according to documents the team released Friday. The A’s will privately fund the 35,000-seat ballpark construction at a $1 billion cost, according to the term sheets. The full project development will expand around Howard Terminal and Jack London Square, including 3,000 units of affordable housing,1.5 million square feet of offices and 270,000 square feet of retail space. The project also includes a 3,500-person indoor performance center and a 400-room hotel.
The overall cost includes $450 million in community benefits and $955 million in projected general fund revenues. In return, the City of Oakland would allocate $855 million for infrastructure improvements. The A’s also include a non-relocation agreement with Oakland, which means the organization will not engage in any potential relocation outside of the city while the agreement is in place. In a letter to the city with the term agreement, the A’s and president Dave Kaval asked the Oakland City Council to vote on the project.
I suppose a pony would have been too much to ask for. Look, I am not trying to downplay the lack of affordable housing in the Bay Area. It’s terrible. I am just mindful of everything that I have described above. If John Fisher will not pay for a competitive baseball team and will use just about any trick to squeeze every last dime out of the City and the people of Oakland, what makes anyone think that he will contribute to anything that is not directly related to his ballclub?
On July 20, 2021, the Oakland City Council voted six to one with one abstention to approve a non-binding term sheet for the project, which the team stated that it would not accept. Prior to the vote, the team proposed to self-finance the stadium for $1 billion, provide $450 million in community benefits and arrange for private investment of $11 billion. So everyone kept negotiating. Considering the Howard Terminal plan does not really make sense without revamping the entire neighborhood, because the proposed stadium site is an industrial area, you would not be forgiven for thinking that there is a critical fault with the Howard Terminal plan.
That statement is not to mention the fact that there is not even a unified view of accepting the Howard Terminal plan such that it is. Considering the location of Howard Terminal, there are numerous county, state, and arguably federal hoops that need to be jumped through. On the county level and on the private level, there is not a consensus on how to move forward. Moreover, even with major regulatory hoops cleared, the Howard Terminal project threatens to be bogged down in litigation, which would likely doom the project if not immediately addressed.
NBC Bay Area, Bay City News, April 2, 2022:
A lawsuit has been filed in Alameda County Superior Court against the city of Oakland and the Oakland Athletics over the environmental review of the $12 billion Howard Terminal waterfront ballpark project.
The lawsuit, filed by a group of opponents who argue that a new waterfront ballpark would not meet environmental requirements, claims non-compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA.
The opposing coalition is made up of the following organizations: East Oakland Stadium Alliance; Schnitzer Steel, a metal shredding facility; Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, which represents port workers; the Harbor Trucking Association; California Trucking Association and International Longshore and Warehouse Union.
Where things go from here, I have no idea. But at this point, I think my point is made as to the abuse that the Oakland Athletics have inflicted on the City and people of Oakland under the ownership of John J. Fisher.
Conclusion: The Saddest Onion
Once again, this scenario just keeps getting worse the more you investigate and dig into it like a rotting onion. Unlike other sections of this series, I find that I am filled with resignation and bitterness rather than righteous fury over the events that have transpired. If John J. Fisher wasn’t as cheap with his franchise as he had been, maybe there would be political capital to expend on getting the project of a new stadium, moreover, maybe the City of Oakland would not be resigned for the Athletics to leave at the first opportunity. As I have previously shown, there is no reason to run a baseball franchise on such a skinflint’s budget if the goal is to win. If the goal is to alienate the public and somehow make a profit while doing as little as possible, then yes, John Fisher is still an even bigger failure.
Until the team moves to Las Vegas, in which case, the team will likely open its coffers to make itself at home in a taxpayer-funded stadium meant to establish a new relationship in the desert town, which would be a final insult to the City and people of Oakland.
Ah. There’s the righteous fury about a cause where it’s not my money.
Next time: we take a hard look at the operations of the Tampa Bay Rays. I have no qualms with their baseball operations, but the stunt they tried to pull with Tampa and Montreal is something we cannot and should not overlook.