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Schmuck stops: On the Rays' two-country solution, the Lakers' deal and more Orioles tanking talk

The ground crew works on the bullpen behind the outfield wall at Olympic Stadium in Montreal. Starved for fans despite success on the field, the Tampa Bay Rays have been given the go-ahead by Major League Baseball to look into playing a split season in Montreal.
The ground crew works on the bullpen behind the outfield wall at Olympic Stadium in Montreal. Starved for fans despite success on the field, the Tampa Bay Rays have been given the go-ahead by Major League Baseball to look into playing a split season in Montreal. (Paul Chiasson / AP)

News item: In an attempt to reduce the potential cost of a new stadium, the Tampa Bay Rays have been given permission by Major League Baseball to explore a two-city partnership with Montreal, which would allow the Rays (or whatever they would be called in French) to play the first half of each season in the Tampa, Fla., area and the second half in Canada.

My take: This makes surprising sense, since it would remove the extra expense of putting a roof on a new stadium in Tampa, and also sets up the historic possibility of one major league team failing in two cities at the same time.

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Bonus take: With the favorable currency exchange rate, there’s also a promising promotional opportunity to fool unwitting Floridians into thinking their tickets actually cost 25% less than the ones in Montreal.

News item: The National League is currently on pace to have its highest winning percentage against the American League since the beginning of interleague play, with a 71-56 record through Thursday (.559 winning percentage). The popular explanation for all this is that a lot of AL teams are “tanking” this year, with the Orioles being offered as a prime example.

My take: The only problem with that is the math. The Orioles have only lost four interleague games this season, which is slightly below the average for all of the 15 AL teams. The real culprits are the Toronto Blue Jays and Detroit Tigers, who entered Friday a combined 6-22 against the senior circuit.

News item: The NFL Competition Committee has chosen to approve the new pass interference replay rules for 2019 after considering several tweaks meant to regulate the number of in-game stoppages.

My take: This is the right decision, though in a perfect world the on-site replay officials would be able to stop play at any time to reverse an egregious call or non-call. The new rule still leaves open the possibility of a game-altering mistake being left uncorrected if it does not occur in the final two minutes of a half and a coach is out of challenges or timeouts.

News item: ESPN reported this week that the Chicago Cubs are considering the possibility of getting into the gambling business when the new Illinois sports betting law goes into effect.

My take: Sounds like a good idea, but the Chicago White Sox beat them to it by about 100 years.

News item: The Major League Baseball Umpires Association took to its Facebook page this week to decry the one-game suspension levied against Manny Machado for making contact with an umpire and throwing his bat toward the backstop, calling the light penalty a “slap in the face.”

My take: The umpires felt disrespected and they probably have a right, but they jumped the shark when the post compared some incidental player-umpire contact to the serious social problem of workplace violence.

News item: The day after breaking his nose during bunting practice, Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer dominated the Philadelphia Phillies, throwing seven scoreless innings and striking out 10 batters.

My take: He must have been wearing his “What Would Ben Roethlisberger Do?” bracelet.

News item: Soon after the Los Angeles Lakers agreed to the still unfinalized deal to send Lonzo Ball and much of their future to the New Orleans Pelicans for superstar Anthony Davis, nightmare Little League dad LaVar Ball told an ESPN reporter he guarantees the Lakers will never win another championship.

My take: From what I’m hearing, if LaVar promises to take his tired act to The Big Easy, Lakers fans are OK with that.

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