The Tampa Bay Rays: Now, Not Even Satan Is on Their Side
by Mark T.R. Donohue
We're fond of the St. Petersburg MLB franchise around here. As it happens, we were living in Chicago when St. Pete tried to lure the White Sox out of town, and then in San Francisco when the spectre of the St. Petersburg Giants got the absolutely beautiful, if ad-filled, Pac Bell/AT&T Park constructed. That's the kind of grasping at straws you have to do if you want to construct an argument for being a Rays fan: at the very least they're just a history-less franchise in a city and stadium with which MLB never should have bothered. But it could have been much worse!
Here's another hilarious sign of the Rays' irrelevance-to-the-degree-of-poignancy: At the recent rally celebrating their new team colors and the official dropping of the "Devil" from their nickname, entertainment was provided by Kevin Costner's rock band. Kevin Costner! What, they couldn't get Russell Crowe's crappy vanity band, Kevin Bacon's crappy vanity band, or even Gary Sinise's crappy vanity band? Costner, yikes. At least they didn't drag out Dennis Quaid in a Jim Morris uniform.
So how about those new colors? They're low-key, easy on the eyes, kind of appropriate for a team that plays by the sea with a slightly off-white look to the home jerseys and a mixture of dark and light shades of blue for the lettering. In other words, they're almost completely identical to the new design the Padres went to a few years ago -- even the curve of the "Rays" logo looks plagiarized. There's no denying it, Tampa Bay's old neon/fright-green scheme was an affront to civilized society. But they were figuring things out, and they eventually hit upon a black-and-dark green scheme that while not exactly Yankee pinstripes (and concern over the Yankees, whose regular-season games are still broadcast on the radio to higher ratings than Rays games in Tampa/St. Pete, is a principal driving motivation for this franchise) was at least halfway respectable. I'm going to see if I can get a Scott Kazmir alternate (the solid dark green with the white piping, a snazzy-looking jersey if you're not a purist) on clearance now that Tampa Bay Padres look is the norm.
As for dropping the "Devil"... well, their nickname was really dumb, now it's kind of cool... for a roller derby team. Tampa Bay Rays. All right. A change in uniform design for their expansion brethren, the Diamondbacks, paid off with a playoff appearance (if you've never heard of post hoc ergo propter hoc before), and allegedly sales of T-shirts, hats, and jerseys featuring the new design have exceeded expectations. But is the team ever going to advance beyond 4th in their division? Barring realignment -- or payroll doubling the cartoonishly low $35 million they've budgeted for next season -- not bleeding likely. Plus now they have the Prince of Darkness to answer to about why he's not the team mascot anymore. If you've tangled with Satan -- say, in the final boss battle of Guitar Hero III -- you know this can't be good news.