Marion County commissioners to decide voting method for proposed Ocala stadium tax hike

Proposed Yankee Stadium in Ocala would seat 4,500.

Proposed Yankee Stadium in Ocala would seat 4,500.

Proposed Yankee Stadium for Marion County

Proposed Yankee Stadium for Marion County.

To state that the BBB is not in the business of reporting news is to suggest that it is in the business of anything at all, which is clearly not the case.  However, the purpose of this post is to inform you of important facts.  So, by way of the links below, we’ll leave the reporting to the professionals.  If you’d like, you can click the links right away, like some kind of bubbleheaded nincompoop, or you can indulge us with the following nutshell so as to familiarize yourself with the subject at hand.

On Tuesday, Marion County commissioners will decide the method by which residents will vote for or against a tax increase.  The proposed three-year, half-cent sales tax hike is intended to pay for a new stadium in Ocala for the Yankees’ single-A minor league club, currently headquartered at George Steinbrenner Field in Tampa.  Tomorrow’s vote is simply to decide whether the vote will be exclusively by mail, or if the vote will be of the traditional variety.  A traditional voting method is expected to generate less voter participation than an all mail-in vote.  If the project is successful, the Tampa Yankees will begin playing in the new stadium in April 2016.  There are no plans to move the Major League Yankees’ spring training away from Steinbrenner Field.

Ocala StarBanner

Ocala StarBanner

WFTV

WFTV

In the coming months, there will no doubt be many a business leader and local politician uttering the dubious phrase, “This new stadium will put Ocala on the map.”

 

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The Chairman’s Box and Bell

Peter Bragan Sr. at Wolfson Park, 1984.  Florida Times-Union.

Peter Bragan Sr. at Wolfson Park, 1984. Florida Times-Union.

Peter Bragan Jr. (right) at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, 2012

Peter Bragan Jr. (right) at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, 2012

Peter Bragan Sr. owned a successful car dealership before purchasing the Jacksonville Suns in 1984.  Like all captains of industry, Senior had in his home a large bell which he used to signal the successful completion of an accomplishment, like impregnating a busty coquette or making a really good ham sandwich, for example.  Not content to sequester the Bell of Accomplishment from the masses who loved him, and whom he loved, Senior mounted the Bell of Accomplishment onto a lacquered yoke and in turn, mounted the yoke-and-bell assembly onto wheels so that it could be placed among the Jacksonville commonage.  And now, even after Senior’s passing, the bell can still be heard heralding every Suns’ home run and victory at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.

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“Please do not sit in the Chairman’s Box.”  It shall remain empty.

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The Buzzing Lights of Joker Marchant

A visual metaphor for the auditory intrusion of the incessantly buzzing lights at Joker Marchant Stadium, the otherwise beautiful and pleasing Florida home of the Detroit Tigers.

IMG-20120706-00079 IMG-20120706-00082

 

 

 

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Update: As of the 2013 season, the buzzing has stopped.
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BAAACK!!!

Hello, reader.  How are you?  Traipsing through the internet again?  Have you wandered here during another pre-study procrastination ritual ultimately leading to various what-if GPA calculations?  Don’t bother, because although the formulas may equal the number 2 followed by a decimal followed by another smallish number, exactly none of them equals a parent’s pride.

Or are your college days behind you?  Are you sitting at a cubicle, hunched over a homemade ham sandwich; siphoning off a few moments of free time from ACME Inc.’s network bandwidth?  Look at that sandwich.  Feel the weight of its soggy shame in your hands.  It has that soda can indentation again from being carried together in the paper sack, doesn’t it?  Of course it does, you pathetic bastard.

Although the unrelenting series of heartbeats and respirations you call a life may not have exceeded your expectations thus far, you may seek some solace in its small pleasures.  For the next 131 seconds you may live vicariously through the base runner’s experience, fraught with tense moments of public hesitation, uncertainty, and fear of letting others down.  Much like your wretched existence, probably.  So watch the video and then decide at each pivotal, paused moment whether the pitcher will pitch to home or attempt to pick you off, resulting in urgent howls of “BAAACK!” from your dugout.  Then, when your wistful daydream reaches its sad conclusion, sigh quietly to yourself, close your internetting browser, and produce another widget for The Man.

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Florida Baseball Foliage

Attention all Florida minor league, spring training, and major league baseball landscapers.  There are many species of palm trees, some more pleasing to the eye than others.  Please refer to the images below when ordering new palm trees.  That is all.

Bright House Field, Clearwater, FL

Bright House Field, Clearwater, FL

mckechnie

trop

ugly

(I would not dare sully the good name of this ballpark, a grande dame of Florida baseball.  So, its identity shall remain concealed as it is otherwise quaint, historic, and no longer home to any major or minor league teams.  It did, however, host a recent baseball tournament.)

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Collective Memories and First Impressions of Al Lang Stadium

Sometimes rummaging through YouTube can seem like a giant electronic flea market filled with too many odd things.  Things you don’t want, things you certainly don’t want to buy, things you wish you had never seen.  Then, if you’re lucky you might happen upon something wonderful, something unexpectedly pleasing, or something priceless.  The video below is one of those things.

About a year ago, I heard about several exhibition baseball games that were scheduled to be played in February and March of 2011 at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg.  I had heard about this baseball field many times, but had never been there.  They said it was old and no longer used for anything.  They said years ago it used to be the spring training home for one baseball team or another.  Then finally, its last tenant moved on to a modern baseball park for spring training and Al Lang Field was abandoned.   It was a shame, they said.  It’s so pretty there next to the water, with the bay view and the ocean breeze.

So, I decided to go see these games.  Before I entered the ballpark for the first time, I took a look around outside to see what the place was like.  Walking through the parking lot, I surprised myself by appreciating those noisy leaf blowers I usually hate so much.  I saw many puddles of collecting oak leaves, which gave the entrance a neglected feel, unlike the unnaturally clean entrance of newer ballparks.  I saw the many bronzed home plate-shaped plaques adorning the entrance and reminding visitors this had once been a special place.

To the left of the box office was some kind of an alcove, perhaps a service entrance, behind a metal fence which was closed shut.  Through the fence I saw a huge sign just sitting there, with the words “Minor League Baseball” written in that cursive baseball style used on so many teams’ jerseys.  On the sign there was an image of a batter in the follow-through of his swing.  At least that’s how I remember it.  I wish I had taken a picture.  I had my camera with me.  I don’t know why I didn’t.  I wondered where the sign used to hang and if any famous ball players had walked beneath it.  Some of those oak leaves formed a puddle around the sign too.

I showed my ticket to the usher and walked up the ramp to the concourse.  There was a sign commemorating former mayor Al Lang and his efforts to bring professional baseball to St. Petersburg.  He looked like a kind man.  Someone had carelessly blocked part of the sign with one of those portable trash bins on plastic wheels that janitors use to collect garbage.  It also seemed like the sign was designed to be backlit from within, but the light was not on for some reason.

On the concourse people were happy.  I overheard one man greet another and ask, “How you doin’?”  The other man responded, beer in hand, “I’m back at Al Lang watching baseball.  I’m doing great!”  He had a big, content smile.

I got my food and walked to my seat.  Its red color had faded from too many years of Florida sunshine.  Everyone was right about the view of the water.  It was beautiful.  Palm trees struggled against the strong winds.  In the distance, parked yachts awaited the return of their owners.  

A group of old men gathered in the infield for the national anthem.  They were dressed all in white.  I didn’t pay attention to the announcer as he described the group to which they belonged.  Maybe they were veterans, or former ball players.  I can’t remember.  I wish I could.  One of the old men took a harmonica out of his pocket and walked slowly to the microphone.  He played the national anthem and it was fantastic.  He went on through the whole song with that harmonica and I remember thinking this was his moment to shine, and he did, magnificently, until the very end when either his lungs or that harmonica failed him.  The missed note wailed sharply through the speakers briefly, but no one thought any less of him.  I hope he is there again this year.

Feb. 28, 2011 Canada vs. Seoul Nexen Heroes, Al Lang Stadium, St. Petersburg

Feb. 28, 2011 Canada vs. Seoul Nexen Heroes, Al Lang Stadium, St. Petersburg

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