Of the languages I studied in my academic career — English and Spanish — I always did best in English, despite all its irregularities.

I can still remember the parts of speech: nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, conjunctions, prepositions, profanity, oxymorons, and maybe one or two that escape me.

Linguistic purists of my day might challenge me on profanity as a part of speech, but it occurs to me that except when used as a modifier (adjective or adverb) it doesn’t fit under any of the other headings.

Oxymorons probably are more vulnerable to a challenge of their standing as a part of speech. I’m not sure they even existed when I was in fourth grade. And since an oxymoron by definition is two words, it may defy classification as a part of speech.

But we can skip over the fine points.

In my opinion, the part of speech that is the most fun — even if it is not a bona fide part of speech — is the oxymoron. As you probably know, an oxymoron is a pairing of two words that are contradictory on their face.

Jumbo shrimp.

Legal brief.

Painless dentistry.

Forgive me if I exclude “military intelligence” from the list. I served in a military intelligence unit during my two years of active Army service.

To this list, however, I add “sports contract.”

Historically, contracts with college football coaches have been one-way commitments. If a better offer comes along, the coach hits the road without so much as a “by your leave;” if his teams post several losing seasons, the college (or its alumni) have to buy out the balance of his contract.

When it comes to professional ball teams, host cities are expected to put up millions of bucks for new football or baseball stadiums, under lease contracts which last until the team decides it wants a new, even more palatial stadium.

The Tampa Bay Rays (who play in St. Petersburg — not in Tampa or in the body of water that separates Tampa from St. Pete) have a lease with St. Pete on its city-financed stadium that runs until 2027.

That stadium (Mary and I won a pair of tickets to attend a game there a few years ago) has design features best described as curious. I was reminded of Bartow’s softball field from the days of my youth. It had a power line strung across the infield between first and third base. A pop fly which smacked it (not an infrequent occurrence) was a ground rule double.

The Rays want St. Pete taxpayers to build them a new stadium. For years, the city has taken the position that it has a contract with the Rays for the present stadium, and that’s that.

The Rays have been actively exploring other sites, from as near as Ybor City to as far away as Montreal.

The team proposes to play half its home games in St. Pete and half in Montreal, with each city showing its gratitude for half a baseball team by building a new stadium. A whole new stadium, not just half.

St. Pete’s mayor has decided that maybe he is “willing to listen” to a proposal to build the Rays a new stadium in his city, but only for a full-time baseball team. He vows not to discuss paying for a new stadium “for a part-time team.”

What, if anything, Montreal has to say about building a full-time stadium for a part-time team has not been widely reported.

I have visited Montreal, and I like the city, the country, and the Canadian people.

It is in that light that I offer this observation:

Half a team, eh? Take a long hard look at how your American neighbors define “sports contracts.”

 —

(S. L. Frisbie is retired. He figures St. Pete can look out for itself. He would hate to see Canadians base their future respect for Americans on a contract with half a baseball team that still has eight years left on its current lease.)

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