The Dodgers owned the Vero Beach franchise in the Florida State League. And, get this- they still do. Oh, they tried selling the club to some possible buyers but finding someone to pay for a franchise that regularly operates at a deficit isn't easy. Let's put it this way- finding Osama Bin Ladin might be easier.
So, while the Dodgers will have the California team as their affiliate, Tampa Bay has moved from the Cal League to Vero. But only as far as supplying the manager, coaching staff and players is concerned. They haven't sent a general manager across the state nor apparently do they intend to. So when the team takes the field in April, in way it should be introduced as the Vero Beach Rays, presented by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
For the team on the field may be employed by the D-Rays but the front office staff are all Dodger employees and get their checks from Los Angeles. They're working right now as per usual, selling ads in the program and outfield fence space and drumming up season ticket sales.
There's certainly been some changes there. General Manager Emily Christy has left, so have Betty Rollins, the promotion coordinator, and Edie Marcell, who handled myriad duties. None of those exited because of the switch in teams, though.
Christy thought it was time to move on and announced her resignation even before the change occurred. Rollins, who had been with the team from the start, retired over the summer while Marcell was getting married and moving elsewhere.
Thus, Sean Marette, who had been Christy's assistant, is running the shop now. What's more, they've already solemnly announced that Squeeze the mascot, who sprang upon the scene in 2006 will return.
The latter will stretch the tie-in a bit more for Squeeze was named for the grapefruit that adorned the Vero Beach Dodger caps. Indian River County, where the team is located, is very much citrus country. But how to tie a grapefruit (which is Squeeze's rubber head) to a Devil Ray may take a bit of imagination.
So, the way things stand the Dodgers own the franchise and supply the office staff, the city and county own the facility, and the D-Rays employ the players and field staff. It probably is the most bizarre set-up in all baseball.
No More Vero Dodgers? Not Entirely!
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