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Thursday, Nov 23, 2017
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Steve Otto Columns

Otto: Baseball needs to show Tampa some love

It was a little disappointing to read they don't love us any more. Actually the phrase that Stuart Sternberg, principal owner of the Tampa Bay Rays, made to Hillsborough County commissioners was, "Major League Baseball doesn't believe any more in the Tampa Bay area.'' That's pretty tough stuff, especially coming from Major League Baseball, which has been a little iffy on believing anything in recent years other than a profit margin. I suppose the first question is whether Major League Baseball, in the form of its commissioner Bud "Don't call me Lite'' Selig, is just talking about the situation at Tropicana Field or is including the Big Guava when he says "Tampa Bay area.''
I mean before Hillsborough County makes a deal with Pinellas and we agree to spend a billion dollars for a state-of-the-art retractable roof stadium with 240-foot TV screens hanging in all directions so spectators won't actually have to watch the ball game; before we build a network of highways to the new stadium; before we construct a mass transit system that covers both counties and goes directly to the ball park; before we once again sell our souls, it would be nice to know they believe in us again. The other big story last week was also down at the County Center where a proposal by Commissioner Mark Sharpe to create a domestic partner registry for unmarried couples went down by a 4-3 vote, with Sharpe's fellow Republicans putting together the "no'' votes. There is a real issue of power of attorney and other legal rights that require one partner to make decisions. Unfortunately, all of that was lost in the sexual orientation rhetoric thrown out by groups such as the Florida Family Association. There are many complex issues wrapped around the few taken up in last week's discussion, more than this space can get into today. But as we change and try to survive in a changing community where the rules for health care, assisting partners in need or just making funeral arrangements for loved ones get tangled in legal mumbo jumbo, we need to redefine just who we are. It's obviously a bigger issue than the members of the county commission are equipped to deal with, but I hope Sharpe will not abandon this after one effort and will try again. Finally, one letter writer took me to task last week for saying I didn't like kumquats, which he saw as disparaging to his beloved town of Dade City and which over the weekend hosted its annual Kumquat Festival. He further suggested the locals might hunt me down if I dared show my face and hurl kumquats in my direction. Well, I'm writing this on Friday afternoon and the Frau and I are planning on going to the festival Saturday. I love Dade City and don't really expect roving bands of kumquat throwers. Not only that, but it's been a few years and I'm going to give it a try and stop by the free kumquat booth and see if I can eat one of the little boogers. I'll let you know.
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