Splitting time between Tampa and Montreal: The right move for the Rays

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Imagine this: Your girlfriend comes to you and says you’re not good enough for her. She’ll date you for part of the year before heading north to see a mysterious Canadian man.

In a move similar to our scenario, Major League Baseball recently gave the Tampa Bay Rays permission to explore playing part of the baseball season in Tampa before hopping the border to finish the year in Montreal. 

After the announcement, detractors pointed out all sorts of issues with the plan. Would team and ballpark staff travel from St. Petersburg to Montreal? Would players need to take up residence in each city? Where would any games in October be played? 

I’ll be honest — I don’t have answers to any of these questions. At this point, neither does the Rays organization. But as Jan Levinson-Gould once said to Pam Beesly regarding art school, “There’s always a million reasons not to do something.”

Simply put, the Rays need to switch it up. They currently receive the second-worst attendance in all of baseball, with the lowest payroll. There simply isn’t enough money or interest in baseball in the city of St. Petersburg and the surrounding Tampa Bay area. 

If the Rays don’t quite decide that they need a complete relocation, splitting time between cities makes perfect sense. 

It’s proving quite difficult for franchises to hold the attention of fans for 162 games that all last three hours or more, as evidenced by record low attendance in recent years. Playing fewer games in one city would probably go a long way toward ensuring that butts find their way into the seats for the more scarce games.

Teams could play one month in one city, the next month in the other city, and then switch back. Fans would still be attached to their team and watch on television regularly. Enlarged fan bases and TV markets would fatten the pockets of owners but also stimulate local economies. 

To be clear, this policy need only be adopted by teams that struggle mightily financially. I don’t advocate for the Yankees playing in Indianapolis or the Cubs moonlighting in Memphis. 

Ultimately, this new tactic may very well be the future of baseball, crucial to its continued health as America’s pastime. 

And so in 15 years, when we celebrate the 2034 World Series victory of the TaMontreal Maple Rays over the Houston Astros team that found a second home on the moon, we’ll know it was the right decision to let MLB teams play in two places.

John Kalil is a Daily Cal sports staffer. Contact him at [email protected].