Sports Shorts

* Stadium (or) deal: Any successful Rays stadium plan has to begin with the acknowledgement of variables that cannot be controlled. To wit: no meaningful mass transit, asymmetrical geography, few corporate headquarters, locals with other-market allegiances and life-style options better than summer baseball. As a result, other variables must be spot on; i.e., synergistic location in the Tampa Bay region’s hub city and financing details–from a serious, 9-figure Stu Sternberg contribution to local-hotelier money that Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s hypocritical meddling in local government can’t negate. Then you have to have all the key players reading from the same script.

It was unconscionably poor form that there were county commissioners and Mayor Bob Buckhorn not formally informed about the Channelside Drive and Fourth Avenue site selection when Commissioner Ken Hagan went public with his announcement.

* If 22nd-ranked USF beats 14th-ranked UCF this month, the Bulls will, almost assuredly, then play for the American Athletic Conference championship. It’s a big deal, and the Bulls-Knights game will be nationally televised from Orlando in front of a notably big crowd.

But let’s not overlook an AAC title already won by USF–over UCF. The USF women’s soccer team recently beat UCF to win the AAC tournament–and won an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Go, Bulls.

* Alex Ovechkin is the Russian mega-star of the NHL’s Washington Capitals. His “social movement” in high-profile support of Vladimir Putin has been getting a lot of press and is much appreciated by his home-country government. “We obviously welcome … (his) desire to express support for our president, especially from abroad,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. As in, especially from the U.S.

Next time the Lightning play the Caps, imagine what Ovechkin’s take might be as the national anthem is played. Arguably, nothing to do with police and minorities, if not collusion.

* The Bucs: Bad is bad. Embarrassing is worse.

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