Friday, October 24, 2014

Rays' Matt Silverman "surprised and disappointed" by Joe Maddon's exit

Posted By on Fri, Oct 24, 2014 at 4:16 PM

After Andrew Friedman announced last week that he was leaving the Tampa Bay Rays to bolt to the Los Angeles Dodgers, speculation immediately centered on whether manager Joe Maddon would join him. But the Rays' skipper said he wanted to stay a Ray, and talks began apace with Rays management to re-sign him to a long term deal.

But Maddon stunned Rays management on Thursday, informing them through his agent that he would exercise an opt-out clause in his contract, and leave the team after nine seasons.

"I'm surprised and disappointed," Rays president of baseball operations Matt Silverman told reporters on a conference call held Friday afternoon, shortly after the team released a statement breaking the news that Maddon was now history. "I believed that Joe wanted to be the manager of the Rays long term. That was my intention and Stu's [Rays owner Stuart Sternberg] intention, and we dove head first into discussions about an extension. But it takes two parties to reach an agreement and we weren't able to reach that agreement, and that's how we got to that stage."

Silverman emphasized twice in the 10-minute call that he believed that money was not the issue that caused Maddon to bolt from negotiations. "I am very comfortable for the financial offers that we made Joe," he said, adding "they were very generous."

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation to invest in Sulphur Springs

Posted By on Thu, Oct 23, 2014 at 4:04 PM

Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Ripken Foundation President Steve Salem, Tampa Parks & Rec. Dir. Greg Bayor & City Councilman Frank Reddick speaking after Thursday's press conference.
  • Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Ripken Foundation President Steve Salem, Tampa Parks & Rec. Dir. Greg Bayor & City Councilman Frank Reddick speaking after Thursday's press conference.

The economically challenged Sulphur Springs district of Tampa got a boost today with the announcement that the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation is going to invest in the neighborhood, with the Baltimore-based nonprofit working with the city to build a million-dollar baseball/softball field at the Springhill Park Community Center.

"This will be one more place that the young people who live here in Sulphur Springs can come to with adult supervision, with good role models, away from the dangers of the city, away from the drug dealers, away from the broken homes, and they can come here and can become little kids," said Mayor Bob Buckhorn, adding that this is the latest positive development in an area that had been "teetering on the precipice" for years until recently.

The current baseball diamond will be completely revamped with an all-weather, low maintenance synthetic turf surface, with new dugouts, scoreboard backstop, and bleachers to be used for youth baseball and softball groups. The price to do this is approximately $1 million, with the city and the Ripken Foundation sharing the costs.

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

HIllsborough County forms group to meet with Rays on stadium — if talks ever happen

Posted By on Wed, Oct 1, 2014 at 12:04 PM


Following the lead of County Commissioner Ken Hagan, the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners today voted to have a small working group be the lead agency to work with Tampa Bay Rays officials, if and when the St. Petersburg-based baseball franchise can work out a deal with St. Pete to speak to officials in Hillsborough about a potential site for a new ballpark.

That working group would consist of Hagan, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Tampa Sports Authority CEO Eric Hart, and a member of the private sector to be named later.

The unanimous vote went without much of a hitch, with board members heaping praise on Hagan for being vigilant on the issue. An admitted baseball junkie, Hagan asked county attorneys over two years ago to look into the legality of even inviting the team to speak to them. That meeting finally happened in early 2013, but there's been no movement on the issue at all since then. Buckhorn and Hagan did hold a news conference later in the summer of 2013 to talk about the financing of such a proposed ballpark.

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Basketball court: Shawna Vercher vs. Tim Donaghy

A Florida House candidate’s legal battle with an infamous former NBA referee.

Posted By on Thu, May 15, 2014 at 1:52 AM

Shawna Vercher. - KEVIN TIGHE
  • Kevin Tighe
  • Shawna Vercher.

In June of 2012, a Pinellas County jury deliberated for less than two hours before awarding former NBA referee Tim Donaghy $1.3 million in his civil trial against Shawna Vercher and her company, VTi Media. The jury ruled that Vercher had withheld proceeds from the sale of Donaghy’s memoir, Personal Foul, which VTi Media published. With legal fees later added on, VTi was judged to owe Donaghy $1.7 million, and Vercher herself to owe him $1.525 million. Five months later, she declared bankruptcy, and has refused to publicly comment on the case.

Until now.

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Mitch Perry Report 5.6.14: In Miami, no sleep for Brooklyn

Posted By on Tue, May 6, 2014 at 8:49 AM

Let me begin by wishing a happy birthday to Willie Mays, who turns 83 today. I only got to see the "Say Hey Kid" in the twilight of his career, with the image sadly etched in my mind of his befuddled performance in centerfield during a 1973 World Series game in Oakland when he was with the New York Mets; he was 42, and it was one of the last games of his career. Speaking of sports, the Eastern Conference NBA Semi-Finals begin tonight in Miami, where the two-time defending champion Heat resume play against the Brooklyn Nets. It only seems like the Heat haven't played for a month, as they were the one exception to the wildly entertaining first round of playoff series that culminated over the weekend, when a record five Game 7s took place.

Never before has the first round seen such excitement, and for good reason. Usually you have a lot of haves and have-nots in the first round, but with the exception of the Heat's blowing past lowly Charlotte, you had two #8 seeds taking #1 seeds to the limit, and one legitimate upset already in Washington upending Chicago (and those upsets continued apace last night, with both the L.A. Clippers and Washington Wizards winning on the road in the first games of their new series). It should be noted that up to the mid-’70s there never was a "quarterfinals" in the respective conferences. When they began they were a best-of-3, then a best-of-5, before going to to a best-of-7 series, which the next three rounds are as well.

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Friday, April 4, 2014

Mitch Perry Report 4.4.14: One and done

Posted By on Fri, Apr 4, 2014 at 8:58 AM

In the spirit of Larry King's old-school columns in USA Today, here are some random thoughts on this first weekend in April.....

David Letterman's announcement that he's shutting down his brilliant late-night career next year brings back memories of when he first came on the air back in February of 1982. I remember it very vividly, as network television basically ended each night after Johnny Carson signed off back in those days. Carson's Tonight Show had been 90 minutes for a long time before  it was scaled back to an hour. Letterman filled the late-night 12:30 a.m. slot four nights a week, with Friday Night Videos closing out the weekend, which was a big deal for those of us who didn’t have their MTV yet....but back to Dave – that first decade before he went to CBS are the shows that will always define him to me...Actually, I can say I was one of the few who was a big fan of his first show on NBC — a daytime program that aired during the summer of 1980. It was damned subversive for 9 in the morning; his co-host was Bob Sarlatte, a San Francisco native and decent comedian in his own right. But it folded after only a few months....Then Late Night began airing, replacing Tom Snyder’s Tomorrow.......Let the speculation begin about who might replace Letterman, but come on? Is it really that big of a deal? This ain’t 1994, (virtually) pre-cable......

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Mitch Perry Report 4.2.14: Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and political protests

Posted By on Wed, Apr 2, 2014 at 8:39 AM

Last week's New Yorker included a lengthy look inside the mind of Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers basketball star now in the twilight of his amazing career. It's been an incredibly frustrating season for the NBA great, one of the fiercest athletes to ever grace the hardwood. He's essentially been out of commission the entire year based on two different injuries, and has had to watch his team flounder in embarrassing fashion (I've posted a link here but you have to be a subscriber to the New Yorker to have access to it).

Undoubtedly the most newsworthy part of the story (which you knew would get some pushback) was Bryant's comment on the photo that LeBron James posted online of Miami Heat players dressed in hoodies with their heads bowed in solidarity with Trayvon Martin following George Zimmerman's exoneration on murder and manslaughter charges last summer.

"I won't react to something just because I’m supposed to, because I’m an African-American," Bryant told the magazine's Ben McGrath. "That argument doesn’t make any sense to me. So we want to advance as a society and as a culture, but, say, if something happens to an African-American, we immediately come to his defense? Yet you want to talk about how far we’ve progressed as a society? Well, if we’ve progressed as a society, then you don’t jump to somebody’s defense just because they’re African-American. You sit and you listen to the facts just like you would in any other situation, right? So I won’t assert myself.”

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Tim Tebow to headline "Men's Impact Weekend" conference in Tampa in June

Posted By on Tue, Mar 18, 2014 at 2:53 PM

Although the closest that Tim Tebow came to participating on a competitive football field last year was in providing color for ESPN college games, he retains a special brand of star power, particularly in the Sunshine State.

Today it was announced that the former Gator quarterback, along with Jase Robertson of A&E’s Duck Dynasty, will be headlining the 2014 Wildfire “Men’s Impact Weekend” Conference coming to the USF Sun Dome on Friday, June 20th beginning at 5:30PM and Saturday, June 21st beginning at 7:30AM.

The press release for the group says you can "Join 10,000 men, fathers, sons, brothers and Christ-followers, coming together to worship God and to learn more about the life of true adventure He intends for men."

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