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Sunday Telegram (Massachusetts)

 

The time seems to have arrived to see how well Worcester's ballpark proposal will work for it and the Pawtucket Red Sox, now that the stadium legislation in Rhode Island has been passed and signed, and now that July is here.

Worcester not only needs a prompt answer, it has earned the right to know sooner rather than later so if it has to move on, it can. But as in all good deals, there are two sides to consider.

Worcester has created an tremendous amount of momentum in recent weeks, to the point where the city has gone from an afterthought in Rhode Island - purely leverage, and no more than that state leaders believed - to a huge thundercloud looming over the state's hope of retaining its Triple A team.

If Worcester is to have the PawSox, the time to announce that is upon us. It is the middle of the baseball season, corporate support is lined up waiting to write checks, and fans - judging from all the emails that arrive at this address - want to jump on the bandwagon.

Beyond that, any ballpark proposal here requires a public "roll out," a time to debate its merits publicly and listen earnestly to all interested parties. What could be worse than for Worcester to do what Rhode Island did and frantically push it through at the last minute like an ambulance trying to navigate a traffic jam.

On the PawSox' part, they don't want to kill attendance for the rest of the 2018 season. Worcester's need to know and the PawSox' need for revenue are both reasonable concerns.

So, how about a compromise that would

work for both sides?

Major League Baseball's All-Star break begins July 16. Coincidentally, the PawSox head out on a road trip then and won't return until July 24. At that point, their big holiday crowds are done and they have just 20 home games left, albeit traditionally good revenue games.

Make the decision by then. Announce it in that window. Either the PawSox stay there or come here. Even the team's investors are eager for an answer. On Worcester's end, the city has nothing to gain by the process dragging out. All that does is give Rhode Island time to realize the magnitude of its blunder and try to fix its proposal.

Given the two deals, side by side, if the PawSox are even considering taking the Rhode Island deal as is, they have no intention of leaving. Worcester has something to lose in terms of public perception if the team decides to stay in Rhode Island after all of this talking.

The fact is that the talks have been genuine, but the 8 a.m. diner coffee-and-muffin folks think the city is just being used as leverage. That is probably the majority of the general public in these parts, and if the PawSox are the ones to say "no," that public, and those outside the area interested in possibly investing here, might wonder if Worcester really does have its act together.

In signing the bill, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo said, "The PawSox belong in Pawtucket. No one wants to see them end up in Worcester. This legislation gives (Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien) an opportunity to work with the team over the coming months to keep them here, and it gives Pawtucket a shot at meaningful revitalization."

Grebien has led the cheers in saying that he believes the team will stay now that the bill is law, but not so fast. PawSox management has been very conservative in its reaction and its statement after the signing indicates that they are aware that Worcester is pushing for an answer.

The team said:

"We recognize the step that Governor Raimondo has taken (Friday) by signing the proposed Pawtucket ballpark legislation, giving the parties an opportunity to vet the number of issues presented. This past week, we met with city officials regarding the legislation that was passed late Friday night. Analysis and talks will continue over the holiday weekend."

That sounded a little more urgent than the governor's "coming months."

Worcester should press for "coming weeks." It may never have a stronger negotiating position than it does now.

Baseball Jeopardy

Answers:

1. The last time baseball had two division champions from the same state.

2. The last Red Sox pitcher to give up home runs for the cycle - solo, two-run, three-run, grand slam - in the same game.

2. The last Red Sox pitcher to throw a complete-game shutout against the Yankees.

Questions below.

Tempered excitement

While winning is better than losing - not a revolutionary idea - Red Sox fans should not get too excited over the fact that Boston won the season series from the Seattle Mariners, so would play any one-game wild card game at Fenway Park. Something similar has happened with the Red Sox twice before, in 1948 and 1978, when they were the host team for one-game playoffs to decide a regular season title. Boston lost both, the Cleveland in '48 and the Yankees in '78. … The Pawtucket Red Sox have a quickie homestand this week with games versus Rochester on Monday and Tuesday nights. Both feature fireworks. …J.D. Martinez is the sixth Red Sox player to want to be known by his initials, not full name. The list, and what their given names are includes Andrew John Pierzynski, Juan Carlos Romero, Jack Thomas Snow, Byung-Hyun Kim, David Jonathan Drew, and Julio Daniel Martinez. Leave it to Drew to do his initials in reverse. … Not sure of the significance of this, but it is probably good - opposing pitchers have thrown 41 wild pitches, Red Sox pitchers only 19. … Steve Pearce's acquisition means that the Red Sox have two players on the roster who went to the same high school - Pearce and Chris Sale. They attended Lakeland (Florida) High although not at the same time. Boston also has two University of South Carolina alums on the roster simultaneously with Pearce andJackie Bradley Jr. That has never happened before. Finally, Pearce is the 14th Red Sox player to wear No. 25 since Tony Conigliaro had it.

Catching up with ...

Hitting coachGreg Colbrunn (2013-14) is the Yankees' minor league hitting coordinator; former Rule 5 pick from Canada, outfielderAdam Stern (2005-06), is a part-time Red Sox scout in Ontario;Tim McCarver, who briefly played for the 1975 pennant winners, is not completely retired from broadcasting and works part-time for the St. Louis Cardinals. ...John Wasdin (1997-2000) gave up a lot of home runs but was one of the most pleasant people to play for the Red Sox in recent seasons, and he is the Baltimore Orioles' minor league pitching coordinator; and one-gamer Sean Berry, who went 0 for 4 on July 24, 2000, and never played in the majors again, is a minor league instructor with the Miami Marlins.

Jeopardy Questions

1. What is 2015? That year, the Cardinals won the National League Central title and the Kansas City Royals were American League Central champions.

2. Who isFrank Castillo? The righty relief pitcher allowed the four possible types of home runs on Aug. 1, 2002, in a 19-7 Boston loss in Texas.

3. Who isJon Lester? He beat New York, 7-0, on five hits at the old Yankee Stadium on July 3, 2008.

Contact Bill Ballou at william.ballou@telegram.com Follow him on Twitter @BillBallouTG.

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