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Game 20: Twins at Rays

Minnesota hopes to keep winning series, this time against the Magical Payroll Elves of recent years.

Tampa Bay Rays v Detroit Tigers
Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Time: 6:10 Central

Weather: First pitch 72°, They Have A Roof

Opponent’s SB site: DRays Bay

TV: BS North. Radio: Expect at least one Gladden story about alligators this series

Longtime Cleveland pitcher Corey Kluber is something of the poster boy for how MLB veteran free-agency works now. After a Cy Young award season in 2014 (at which he was paid $514K), he signed a five-year extension with Cleveland for $38 million. Now he’s making $8 million for one guaranteed year in Tampa. An Alabama native, he lives with his wife in the Boston area. He throws the same moving fastball (straight, sink, cut) he always did, albeit with less velocity than he used to; last year, with the Yanquis, the slurve was his most effective pitch.

Meanwhile, Al Ted Dylan Bundy has been just oustanding for the Twins so far in 2022. Ridiculously SSS digits:

For your edification, here’s a few odds/ends about Tropicana Field, last of the permanently-roofed stadiums currently in MLB use:

It opened in 1990, five years before the expansion Rays played there, and was a deliberate attempt by local officials to lure an existing MLB team away from San Francisco, or maybe Seattle, or maybe Comiskey Park.

It was designed by mega-architects HOK Sport (now Populous), and was one of the first MLB stadiums HOK designed. They’d soon after work on the equally-unloved new White Sox stadium, the much-lauded Camden Yards, and the consensus prettiest buildings in baseball for those aforementioned Giants and Mariners.

From the get-go Tropicana Field was in a terrible location for fans to get to games. It was also built as part of “urban renewal” in a traditionally working-class African-American neighborhood (so was much of our I-94), and may have been partially constructed on top of an old graveyard.

Team owner Stuart Sternberg, a super-wealthy Wall Street investor, bought the Rays in 2004 and agreed to sign a lease trading some public renovation money for extending that lease through 2026. He’s wanted out of that lease ever since. Ask The Honorable Harry Crump how lovingly judges look at sports owners trying to get out of lazily-signed leases.

Sternberg’s most recent batty idea was to get, not one, but TWO publicly-funded stadiums; one, in Tampa where the Rays would play early/late-season games, and one in Montreal, where they would play the summer. The great stadium-swindle chronicler Neil DeMause called this the “Tampontreal” plan. As stated, Tampa officials have no obligation to let Sternberg out of his lease just yet, and Montreal famously let their team walk rather than replace a perfectly functional stadium with public money, so Sternberg’s two-city plan is on hiatus. For now.

Tropicana Field has the normal number of expensive eateries and other such amenities, but certainly its most unusual feature is an outfield tank in which several live cownose stingrays swim. Kids can pet them, sort of. You can read about the tank here.

Seven home runs have been hit into this tank during actual baseball games. One was by then-Mariner Nelson Cruz. One was by then-Twin Robbie Grossman.

Incidentally, it was Sternberg who changed the name from Devil Rays to Rays, as some idiots thought the name Devil Ray vaguely Satanic. (Note to idiots: it’s a fish. Which does not lay deviled eggs, although that would be yummy.) Before the name change, Tampa Bay had played 10 seasons and never finished with a winning percentage above .435. Since the change, they’ve played 14 seasons, and only once finished below .475. Apparently God approved of the change, and was content to let the Devil have pretty much every other form of human behavior in Florida (NSF anything!!!)

Lineups will be posted when I get home from work, or if somebody else posts them first. Or you can make up your own, consisting entirely of Tigers/White Sox fielders from this past week, it would be fun!

Today's Lineups

Byron Buxton - DH Brandon Lowe - 2B
Luis Arraez - 1B Wander Franco - SS
Carlos Correa - SS Yandy Diaz - 1B
Jorge Polanco - 2B Josh Lowe - DH
Max Kepler - RF Randy Arozarena - LF
Gio Urshela - 3B Kevin Kiermaier - CF
Trevor Larnach - LF Mike Zunino - C
Gary Sanchez - C Brett Phillips - RF
Nick Gordon - CF Taylor Walls - 3B
Dylan Bundy - RHP Corey Kluber - RHP