The Full Wiki

Tampa Bay Rays: Map


Wikipedia article:

Map showing all locations mentioned on Wikipedia article:

The Tampa Bay Rays are a Major League Baseball franchise based in St. Petersburgmarker, Floridamarker. The Rays are a member of the Eastern Division of MLB's American League. Since their inception in , the club has played at Tropicana Fieldmarker and has finished out of last place three times: once in 2004, when they finished fourth in their division; in 2008, when they won their first division title, entered the playoffs for the first time in team history, and qualified for the World Series; and in 2009.

In November , majority owner Stuart Sternberg made significant changes to his franchise's image, changing the club's name from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to the "Tampa Bay Rays", which he described as "a beacon that radiates throughout Tampa Baymarker and across the entire state of Florida."
The teams' primary colors were also changed from black, green, and blue to navy blue, Columbia blue, and gold.

Professional baseball in Tampa Bay

Civic leader and St. Petersburg Times publisher, Jack Lake, first suggested St. Petersburg pursue a Major League baseball team. The notable influences Lake held in the sport are what led to the serious discussions that changed St. Petersburg from a spring training location to a major league city. He spoke to anyone who would listen about his desire to see the city of St. Petersburg have a Major league baseball team. His colorful direction dominated the mindset in both sports and business circles dating back to 1966. He was said to have the foresight and prominence to make it happen.

Local leaders made many unsuccessful attempts to acquire a major league baseball team in the 1980s and 1990s. The Minnesota Twins, San Francisco Giants, Chicago White Sox, Texas Rangers, and Seattle Mariners all considered moving to either Tampa or St. Petersburg before deciding to remain in their current locations. The Florida Suncoast Domemarker (now named Tropicana Field) was built in St. Petersburg in with the purpose of luring a major league team. When MLB announced that it would add two expansion teams for the season, it was widely assumed that one of the teams would be placed in St. Petersburg. However, the teams were awarded to Denvermarker (Colorado Rockies) and Miamimarker (Florida Marlins) instead.

In , San Francisco Giants owner Bob Lurie agreed in principle to sell his team to a Tampa Bay based group of investors led by Vince Naimoli, who would then move the team to St. Petersburg. However, at the 11th hour, MLB owners nixed the move under pressure from San Franciscomarker officials and the Giants were sold to a group that kept them in San Francisco.

Finally, on March 9, 1995, new expansion franchises were awarded to Naimoli's Tampa Bay group and a group from Phoenixmarker (the Arizona Diamondbacks). The new franchises were scheduled to begin play in .

The Tampa Bay area finally had a team, but the stadium in St. Petersburg was already in need of an upgrade. In 1993, the stadium was renamed the Thunderdome and became the home of the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team and the Tampa Bay Storm Arena Football League team. After the birth of the Rays, the naming rights were sold to Tropicana Products and $70 million was spent on renovations.

Franchise history

Before 1998

The Devil Rays began to build their organization shortly after the franchise was awarded in by naming former Atlanta Braves assistant general manager Chuck LaMar the senior vice president of baseball operations and general manager. The franchise's first minor league games took place in the season. On November 7, 1997, Larry Rothschild was named the team's first manager. The team acquired 35 players in the Expansion Draft on November 18, 1997. Tony Saunders from the Florida Marlins was the first player drafted by the Devil Rays. The team also drafted future star Bobby Abreu and promptly traded him to the Philadelphia Phillies for Kevin Stocker, who had very little success for the Rays. Before the season, star players Wade Boggs, Fred McGriff, and Wilson Alvarez were acquired.

1998–2003: Early years as the Devil Rays

The Devil Rays played their first game on March 31, 1998 against the Detroit Tigers at Tropicana Field before a crowd of 45,369. Wilson Alvarez threw the first pitch and Wade Boggs hit the first home run in team history that day, and although the Devil Rays lost their opening game 11–6, they actually got off to a good start. Miguel Cairo is the last remaining player from the Devil Rays opening day roster, although Randy Winn also spent time with the team later in the 1998 season. The Devil Rays were 11–8 after 19 games before losing six straight, falling below .500, never to recover to that level again in their inaugural season. They would go on to lose 99 games that year. José Canseco was signed prior to the 1999 season. One of the most memorable moments in franchise history occurred on August 7, 1999 when Wade Boggs tallied his 3000th career hit on a home run, the only player to ever do so. Boggs retired after the season and is the only Ray with his number retired (ironically, he spent more time with the Red Sox and Yankees yet neither team has hung up his jersey). He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Famemarker in .

The Devil Rays acquired sluggers Vinny Castilla and Greg Vaughn on December 13, 1999 and dubbed McGriff, Canseco, Castilla, and Vaughn the "Hit Show." As it turned out, however, all of these players were past their prime, and the team continued to struggle in . Prior to the 2001 season, the Rays changed their team colors and uniforms and also acquired highly-touted outfielder Ben Grieve from Oakland but neither move improved their luck in the standings. On April 18, Larry Rothschild was fired as manager and was replaced by Hal McRae, and McGriff was dealt to the Chicago Cubs, interestingly taking nearly a month to decide whether to enforce his no-trade clause or to leave his hometown of Tampa for Chicago, which was in a heated divisional race. By the 2002 season, the Devil Rays decided to build with younger players and drastically reduced the team payroll. Randy Winn, Aubrey Huff, Toby Hall, and Carl Crawford began to emerge as key players. However, the 2002 season would prove to be the worst in franchise history to date. McRae was moved to a front office position after the season.

Before the 2003 season, the team traded Randy Winn to the Seattle Mariners for the right to negotiate with manager Lou Piniella, a Tampa native, who managed winning teams at every stop in his managerial career, including the New York Yankees, the Cincinnati Reds (whom he led to a World Championship in ), and the Mariners (whom he led to American League Runner-Up finishes in 1995, 2000, and 2001). Piniella was attracted to the Tampa Bay job because of the proximity to his family and the chance to build a losing franchise into a winner as he had done in Seattle. Piniella's first team still finished last, but was seven games better than the 2002 team. A highlight of the 2003 season was the emergence of Rocco Baldelli, a native of Rhode Islandmarker, as one of the top rookies in the major leagues. A bizarre incident occurred in 2003 when, in an interleague game against the Chicago Cubs, Sammy Sosa's bat broke on a pitch from Devil Rays pitcher Geremi González, revealing it was corked.

2004: Rise of Crawford, Baldelli and Kazmir

Expectations were low for the team entering the 2004 season, but the team surprised most baseball experts by finishing with the best record in team history, 70–91. It was the first time the Devil Rays won 70 games in a season and they also finished in 4th place in the American League East, out of last place for the first time ever. Their record was 10–28 coming into May when they made their run in which they won 30 of 40 games, including a team-record 12 games in a row. The Rays had a 42–41 record after 83 games, within 5 games of the American League Wild Card. However, the team soon returned to its losing ways, leading to a final record of 21 games below .500. The season was highlighted by the continued development of Aubrey Huff, Carl Crawford, and Rocco Baldelli into some of the top young hitters in baseball. The front office produced a major accomplishment on July 30, 2004 when pitcher Victor Zambrano was traded to the New York Mets for pitcher Scott Kazmir, who has since become one of the team's best pitchers and one of the most talented young pitchers in all of baseball.

2005: End of Piniella era

After a 28–61 record at the All-Star Break in 2005, the Devil Rays turned it around in the second half of the season, going 39–34, for a final record of 67–95. Rocco Baldelli missed the entire 2005 season due to injury, but Carl Crawford and newcomers Jorge Cantu and Jonny Gomes led a productive offense that finished third in the American League in team batting average. To counterbalance that, however, the pitching staff had the second worst ERA in the American League. During their strong second half, the Devil Rays played spoilers in September, with timely victories over contenders such as the New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians, and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Despite the promising finish, Lou Piniella became frustrated with what he perceived as an insufficient commitment to winning by the ownership group, and he reached a settlement with the team to release him from the last year of his contract.

2005–06 offseason: Front office and managerial changes

Shortly after the season ended, Stuart Sternberg, who bought into the ownership group in , took over from Vince Naimoli as managing general partner, thus taking over executive control of the team. He immediately fired Chuck LaMar, who had been the team's General Manager since the team's first season, and most of the front office. Matthew Silverman was named the team president, and Andrew Friedman took the role of Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations. Gerry Hunsicker, former General Manager of the Houston Astros, was named the Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations, with the responsibility of advising the younger Friedman. Sternberg decided not to have a de jure General Manager, calling the position "outdated." Friedman and Hunsicker share the role of team representative at MLB functions.

The team focused its rebuilding efforts around young stars such as outfielders Carl Crawford, Rocco Baldelli, and Jonny Gomes, infielder Jorge Cantu (who hit 28 home runs and drove in 117 runs in 2005) and pitcher Scott Kazmir (who finished in the top 5 in the American League in strikeouts). Baldelli missed the entire 2005 season with injuries, but returned to the team in 2006. Also figuring into the Rays' future plans were Delmon Young and B.J. Upton, considered two of the best prospects in all of baseball.

In December 2005, Joe Maddon, the former bench coach for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, was named the new manager of the Devil Rays, the fourth in team history, replacing Lou Piniella in that role.

During the offseason, the new front office invested $10 million in improvements to Tropicana Field. Among the major changes were new club seating on the first base side, a 35-foot, 10,000 gallon touch tank holding 30 live cownose rays behind the right-center field fence, and the addition of the Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame, relocated from Citrus County. Other changes to increase attendance and fan interest included free parking at all home games, allowing tailgating in the parking lot before games, allowing fans to bring their own food and drinks into Tropicana Field, lower ticket prices and concession prices, and an increased number of promotions and give-aways.

2006: Rebuilding year

With the change of ownership and the strong finish to the 2005 season, Tampa Bay fans were optimistic about the 2006 season. On April 10, the official attendance at Tropicana Field for the Rays' home opener was 40,199, the highest turnout since the 1998 inaugural season home opener.

An unfortunate event occurred on April 26, when Delmon Young, playing for the Triple-A Durham Bulls, was ejected from the first inning of a game for arguing a third strike, and tossed his bat at the umpire, striking him in the chest protector. The umpire was not injured, but Young was suspended indefinitely the next day by the International League. Young ultimately was suspended for 50 games without pay and performed 50 hours of community service.

At the All-Star break, Tampa Bay was only eleven games under the .500 mark (39–50). However, the front office became convinced that the Devil Rays would not contend in 2006 and they traded several veteran players who were not in their future plans and obtained younger players who were expected to contribute more in future seasons. The trades included:

The Devil Rays struggled in the second half, going 22–51 to finish the season with a 61–101 record, the worst in the major leagues. The team's poor play in the second half was attributed to the trades of veterans for prospects, injuries to key players such as Scott Kazmir and Ty Wigginton, and slumps by several players (notably Jonny Gomes and Jorge Cantu). Another factor was that the Devil Rays played extremely poorly on the road, winning only 3 out of 39 road games after July 1. This matched the 1943 Philadelphia Athletics for the least number of road wins after the All Star break in baseball history. Overall, the Rays went 20–61 on the road, the third lowest number of wins on the road by any team since 1961. On top of that, they led the major leagues in the number of leads blown with 94 and set a new American League record by losing 60 games that they had led. The Rays led in 121 games, but won only 61.

The Devil Rays were involved in two unusual triple plays in 2006; one they hit into, the other they executed themselves. On June 11 against Kansas City, they hit into the third triple play in major league history, and first since 1937, that involved an appeal. Russell Branyan flew out to center, Rocco Baldelli tried to advance to second base and was thrown out, and then Aubrey Huff was called out when the umpires ruled that he left third base early when he tagged up. Then, on September 2 against Seattle, the Rays executed a 2–6–2 triple play where the ball never touched the bat, something that had never been done before. The triple play, against the Seattle Mariners, involved a strikeout and two baserunners caught off base. Tampa pitcher J.P. Howell struck out Raúl Ibáñez. Catcher Dioner Navarro fired the ball to shortstop Ben Zobrist, who tagged out Adrián Beltré trying to steal second base. During that throw, José Lopez tried to go home from third, but Zobrist returned the ball to Navarro in time to put Lopez out at the plate, completing the first 2-6-2 triple play in MLB history.

On the positive side, the Devil Rays finished with a winning record at home (41–40) for the first time ever. Also, home attendance increased by 20% over 2005 to 1,372,193. This was the Rays' highest attendance since 2000.

2006–07 offseason: Rays sign Iwamura

During the 2006 offseason, Erik Walker, a 23-year-old pitching prospect for the Hudson Valley Renegades who had recently gone 3–1 with a 0.48 ERA during his first professional season, died in a canoeing accident on the New River in Grayson County, Virginiamarker.

On November 15, 2006, the Devil Rays won the rights to negotiate a contract with Japanese infielder Akinori Iwamura. He was signed to a three-year, $7.7-million contract on December 15, and ultimately made the Opening Day active roster. The Devil Rays paid $4.55 million USD (around ¥538 million) to the Tokyo Yakult Swallows for the rights to Iwamura.

In an effort to court the Orlando, Floridamarker, market, the Devil Rays played a series at The Ballpark (now called Champion Stadiummarker) at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complexmarker in the 2007 season. The series selected was the May 15–17 series versus the Texas Rangers. The Devil Rays swept the Rangers in that series.

2007: Peña and young stars lead the way

The Devil Rays had the youngest starting line-up since the 1983 Minnesota Twins. One of those young players, Elijah Dukes, was put on the temporary inactive list when a St. Petersburg Times report alleged he threatened to kill his estranged wife and their children. Dukes didn't play again for the remainder of the season. On the other hand, the Rays had bright spots on the year as they were led by pitchers James Shields and Scott Kazmir, who were both exceptional. Shields put in 215 innings and would have been close to 20 wins had he not endured multiple bullpen collapses. Meanwhile, Kazmir struck out a career high 239 batters with an ERA of 3.48.

Offensively, the Devil Rays may have had their best year to that point. Tampa Bay was third in the AL in home runs (187) notably behind the New York Yankees. They also posted 131 stolen bases which also placed them third in the AL. They were led by Comeback Player of the Year, Carlos Peña who batted .282 and set Rays records in home runs (46), RBIs (121), walks (103), on-base percentage (.411), and slugging percentage (.627). He ranked fourth in the Majors in home runs and sixth in RBIs. They were also led by BJ Upton, All-Star Carl Crawford, and rookies Delmon Young and Akinori Iwamura.

With their improved offense the Devil Rays were one of baseball's best six-inning teams, but the absence of a steady bullpen wrecked many quality starts. The bullpen problem was at its worst during the first half, when the likes of Casey Fossum, Jae Seo and Edwin Jackson were just as likely to pitch two innings as five, which taxed an already mediocre bullpen by forcing them to log extra innings.

The Devil Rays compiled the worst record in baseball (66–96), finishing last in the American League East for the ninth time in their 10-season existence. The Rays signed manager Joe Maddon to a contract extension, with the club picking up the 2008 and 2009 club options.

Image:TampaBayDevilRays 1001.png|Original logo of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, 1998-2000Image:ALE-TB-Logo-Old02.png|Tampa Bay Devil Rays logo, 2001-2007Image:TB Rays.PNG|Tampa Bay Rays secondary, 2008-present

2007–2008 offseason: New name, uniforms & outlook

New uniforms for the 2008 season were officially revealed on November 8, 2007. The unveiling coincided with a name change for the team, as the team was now officially called the "Tampa Bay Rays." The new team colors are "navy, Columbia blue and a touch of gold". The new team logo features a bright yellow sunburst that represents the Sunshine State of Florida. The logo and the cap insignia use the font Georgia in bold. In the original press release, principal owner Stuart Sternberg said "We are now the 'Rays' - a new and improved version of the Devil Rays." "We Are One Team," the pitch for the 2008 season was announced February 22, 2008. The phrase, as president Matt Silverman says, refers to the idea of an improved and talented team allied with the fan base across the Tampa Bay area.

Roster moves

The Rays front office had promised to increase the team's payroll for the coming season. Whereas it was approximately $24 million in 2007, lowest in the majors, the "mid-30s" had been rumored as a minimum for 2008. But, after free-agency signings and contract extensions to players already on the roster, it was raised to $43 million

While the Rays began the 2008 season with much the same lineup that ended the 2007 season, several key trades and free agent signings improved the team. The Rays traded Delmon Young, Brendan Harris, and Jason Pridie to the Twins for Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett, and Eduardo Morlan. The Rays signed a two-year deal with veteran relief pitcher Troy Percival who took over closer duties. Al Reyes became the team's set-up man, until he was released mid-season. The Rays signed Cliff Floyd, who has split time at designated hitter and right field. Top third-base prospect Evan Longoria was expected to be the starter at the hot corner while the Rays also signed the #1 pick in the draft last year, pitcher David Price, who was widely recognized as one of the top players in college baseball.

2008 season: New hopes, new look, winners at last

The Rays and Red Sox brawl at Fenway Park on June 5, 2008.
The Rays finished spring training with 18 wins, a club record. They also finished with the highest winning percentage in the Grapefruit League, and tied for the highest of all teams in spring training with the Oakland Athletics. They began the regular season with a win on the road in Baltimore. This snapped a 7-game losing streak in road openers for the franchise, which was the longest active streak in the league until then.

As they did during the 2007 season, the Rays played a regular season home series at Champion Stadiummarker in Walt Disney Worldmarker for the April 22-24 series against the Toronto Blue Jays. As in the Orlando series in the previous season, the Rays won all three games.

The Rays suffered through many injuries during April and had hovered just above .500 until the end of the month. However, the sweep of the Blue Jays was followed by the team's first-ever sweep of the Boston Red Sox in Tropicana Field. In the series finale, James Shields pitched a complete game 2-hit, no walk shutout and was named AL Player of the Week. Evan Longoria was originally cut from the 25-man roster in Spring Training, but was called up early into the season. He signed a contract worth $15 million over six years. Longoria would quickly become a fan favorite by being one of the team's more productive players throughout the season.

The Rays continued their winning ways into May. At the end of play on Memorial Day, the traditional 1/3 point of the baseball season, the Rays were in first place in the AL East and owned the best record in all of major league baseball at 31-20. The Rays became the first team in modern Major League history (since 1900) to hold the best record in the league through Memorial Day, having the worst record in the league the year before. This was, by far, the best start in franchise history and marked the first time ever that the team was 11 games over .500. The Rays finished the month 12 games over .500, had the best record in the American League, and led the AL East by one game.

In June, incidents over the course of two consecutive games led to a benches clearing brawl against the Boston Red Sox increasing hostility between the two teams, which was also fueled by a tight division race between them. Carlos Peña was out for three weeks with a fractured left index finger. The Rays went 16-10 for the month of June, sporting an overall record of 50-32, were 18 games over .500 for the first time in franchise history, and led the division by 1½ games.

Within the first week of July the Rays stretched their division lead to 5½ games, but then lost seven consecutive games heading into the All-Star Break. Trailing the Red Sox for the division lead by ½ game, they still led the Wild Card. Scott Kazmir and Dioner Navarro were selected to play in the All-Star Game. Evan Longoria was voted into the roster by the fans in the Final Vote. This (3) was the most players the Rays had ever sent to the All-Star Game. In another franchise first, Longoria was a participant in the Home Run Derby, but was eliminated in the first round hitting only three home runs, the least of all competitors.

After going 13-12 during the month of July, the Rays, with a 63-44 record, held a division lead of 3 games over the Boston Red Sox. The Rays did not make any deals prior to the trade deadline. Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations, Andrew Friedman, would stress that despite no trade activity, the Rays organization had confidence in the players that had given them the best record in the division at the conclusion of July.

In August, the Rays surpassed their previous franchise record of 70 wins in one season. On August 29, they secured their first winning season, notching their 82nd victory against the Baltimore Orioles, in a 14-3 win. Despite injuries to several key players in early August including Evan Longoria, Carl Crawford, and Troy Percival, the Rays finished August on a 5-game winning streak, compiling a record of 21–7 for the month, the best single month in franchise history. With an 84-51 overall record, the best in the league, their lead in the division grew to 5½ games going into the final month of the season.

On September 20, the Rays, with the best home record in Major League Baseball, clinched their first-ever postseason berth in franchise history. The following week, on September 26, though the Rays lost that day, they were finally able to clinch their first-ever division title, due to the Boston Red Sox loss to the New York Yankees.

On October 6, the Rays defeated the Chicago White Sox in Game 4 of the American League Division Series (ALDS), to capture their first playoff series victory and advance to the American League Championship Series (ALCS).

On October 19, the Rays defeated the Boston Red Sox in Game 7 of the ALCS, to go to the World Series for the first time in franchise history.

On October 29, despite having home-field advantage in the series, the Rays lost to the Philadelphia Phillies, four games to one, in the World Series.

The Rays received the William Harridge Trophy, for winning the ALCS.

The Rays' turnaround was mostly credited to much improved defense and pitching, especially from the bullpen. The Rays also stole 142 bases, more than any other team in the AL. They also had five pitchers throw over 150 innings, more than any other team in baseball: Shields, Kazmir, Garza, Andy Sonnanstine, and Edwin Jackson. While the 2007 bullpen and defense were historically bad, stats for 2008 were among the best in the majors, and the best in franchise history.

2008–09 offseason

Players who left the Rays for free agency included Eric Hinske, Cliff Floyd, and Trever Miller. Jonny Gomes' contract was non-tendered, making him a free agent as well. Rocco Baldelli, who had been with the Rays organization since being drafted, left to sign with his hometown team, the Boston Red Sox. Edwin Jackson was involved in a trade that sent him to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for Matt Joyce.

The Rays signed more veterans to join them for the 2009 season, such as Gabe Kapler, Morgan Ensberg, and Adam Kennedy. Their biggest move of the offseason was signing Pat Burrell, who was a member of the Philadelphia Phillies squad that defeated the Rays in the World Series, making him the fifth player since 1970 to play for a team in the first game of a season after having defeated that team in the previous World Series.

With the Rays' new payroll total above $60 million, principal owner Stuart Sternberg held a press conference shortly after the start of spring training saying that unlike previous seasons, the Rays had no more flexibility to make any more additions during the upcoming season. He did add however, that "you never say never" and things may be different come mid-season. In the 2008 season, it was made well known in the media that despite the Rays being contenders the entire season, attendance was still among the lowest in the league. Sternberg stated in his press conference that after doing research, the only team that did not have an average attendance higher than the league average in the season following a World Series appearance was the Florida Marlins, who did so twice after each of their championship seasons. He accepted that the Rays might become the third occurrence, saying about the 2008 season, "it wasn't the best year to win," because of the current state of the economy.

2009 season

The Rays went 9-14 in the first month of the season, finish the month 4th place in the AL East. Evan Longoria led the AL with 28 RBIs, along with seven home runs and a .368 batting average.

In May, the Rays went 16-14, finishing the month with an overall record of 25-28 and just half a game out of last place. On May 24, they presumably lost starting second baseman Akinori Iwamura for the remainder of the season to a leg injury suffered while attempting to turn a double play. After surgery was performed a month later, it was discovered that the injury was not as serious, meaning Iwamura could return to action in several weeks.

June would prove to be the Rays' best month of the season, winning 19 games and improving to a 44-35 record. Though behind the division lead by 4 games, they were only 1½ back in the wild card.

In July, the Rays went .500 for the month with a 12-12 record, moving to 56-47 overall, but would still make franchise history. Carl Crawford, Jason Bartlett, Ben Zobrist, and Evan Longoria would all be All-Stars for the American League in the All-Star Game, with Longoria earning the start at third base after receiving the highest amount of votes from the fans. However, Longoria would not participate, suffering an infection in his finger the week of the all-star break. Carlos Peña would be added as a replacement player for another injured all-star, and also participated in the 2009 Home Run Derby. In the All-Star Game, Carl Crawford took home MVP honors, by making a leaping catch at the wall to take away a home run.

In August, the Rays saw the return of Iwamura, and made a pivotal trade. On August 29, the Rays sent Scott Kazmir to the Angels, receiving two minor league prospects and a player to be named later. Kazmir left the team as the all-time leader in wins and strikeouts. inishing the month 15-12, they improved to 71-59, assuring themselves the club's second best season in franchise history. However the Rays fell way behind the lead for the division, but still had a chance at winning the wild card.

The Rays stumbled in September, losing 11 games in a row at one point, and lost Carlos Peña for the remainder of the season after he broke a finger when hit by a pitch. At the time Peña was leading the American League in home runs. They would still clinch a winning season on the last day of the month, despite being eliminated from postseason contention on September 22.

On October 2, B.J. Upton became the first Tampa Bay player to hit for the cycle.

Despite being unable to successfully defend their division title and American League championship from the improbable season before, the Rays still finished the 2009 campaign in the tough AL East with an 84-78 record, good enough for 3rd place.

Season records

The records of the Rays' last five seasons in Major League Baseball are listed below:

American League Champions

Division Champions

League Division Regular season Post-season Awards
Finish Wins Losses Win% GB
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
2005 AL East 5th 67 95 .414 28
2006 AL East 5th 61 101 .377 36
2007 AL East 5th 66 96 .407 30 Carlos Peña (CPOY)
Tampa Bay Rays
2008 AL East 1st 97 65 .599 Won ALDS vs. Chicago White Sox, 3-1
Won ALCS vs. Boston Red Sox 4-3
Lost World Series vs. Philadelphia Phillies 4-1

Evan Longoria (ROY)
Joe Maddon (MOY)
2009 AL East 3rd 84 78 .519 19
These statistics are current as of October 4, 2009. Bold denotes a playoff season, pennant or championship; italics denote an active season.

Baseball Hall of Famers

Retired numbers

The Tampa Bay Rays have retired two numbers. These numbers are displayed to the left of the center field scoreboard and "K Counter" on a small wall.


3B: 1998-99

Retired 2001


Retired by
Retired 1997

Jackie Robinson's number 42 was retired by all of Major League Baseball.

Award winners and league leaders

Rookie of the Year

Gold Glove Award

Silver Slugger Award

  • Evan Longoria (2009)

Comeback Player of the Year

  • Carlos Pena (2007)

Manager of the Year

DHL Hometown Heroes (2006)

  • Wade Boggs — voted by MLB fans as the most outstanding player in the history of the franchise, based on on-field performance, leadership quality, and character value

Team award

Team records (single-season, all-time)

Current roster


Tampa Bay's primary rivals are the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees The Red Sox/Rays rivalry dates back to the 2000 season, when then-Devil Ray Gerald Williams took exception to being hit by a pitch thrown by then-Boston pitcher Pedro Martínez and charged the mound, resulting in a game full of retaliations and ejections on both sides . There have been several other incidents between the teams during the ensuing years, including one in 2005 which resulted in two bench-clearing fights during the game and a war of words between then-Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella and then-Boston pitcher Curt Schilling through the media in the following days. The rivalry reached its highest level to date during the 2008 season, which included a brawl during a June meeting in Fenway Parkmarker and an 7-game American League Championship Series between the teams that ended in the Rays' first ever pennant win.

As a fellow member of the AL East Division, the Yankees and Rays play many times each season. There has always been some feeling of a rivalry between the teams due to the fact that the Yankees make Tampamarker their spring training home and fan loyalty in the Tampa Bay area has historically been divided, especially among transplants from the northeastern US. The rivalry became more heated in spring training of 2008, when a home plate collision between Rays outfielder Elliot Johnson and Yankee catcher Francisco Cervelli was followed the next day by spikes-high slide by Yankees outfielder Shelley Duncan into Rays' second baseman Akinori Iwamura, prompting Rays outfielder Jonny Gomes to charge in from his position in right field and knock Duncan to the ground.

Quick facts

Founded: 1998 (American League expansion)
Home ballpark: Tropicana Fieldmarker
Uniform colors: Navy Blue, Columbia Blue, Gold
Logo design: The word "Rays" in a baseball diamond
Mascot: A six-foot, six-inch (198 cm) seadog named "Raymond"
Playoff appearances: 1
Owner: Stuart Sternberg, et al.
President: Matthew Silverman
Executive VP of Baseball Operations (de facto General Manager): Andrew Friedman
Manager: Joe Maddon
Local Television: Fox Sports Florida, Sun Sports
Public Address Announcer: David Pygman
Spring Training Facility: Charlotte Sports Park, Port Charlotte, Floridamarker

Radio, television and movies

, the Rays' flagship radio station is WDAE 620 AM. The play-by-play announcers are Dave Wills and Andy Freed, and Rich Herrera is the pregame and postgame host. This team replaced Paul Olden and Charlie Slowes as of the 2005 season. Slowes went to the Washington Nationals, while Olden pursued a photography career. Rays games have been aired on WFLA 970 AM (1998-2004) and WHNZ 1250 AM (2005-2008) in the past.

Fox Sports Florida broadcasts the Rays' games on television. Through the 2008 season, many games also aired on Ion Television affiliate broadcast stations throughout the state of Florida, with WXPXmarker in Tampa as the flagship. However, after the 2008 season, Fox Sports Florida signed an agreement to become the exclusive local broadcaster of the Rays, and will air 155 games per year through 2016. Dewayne Staats (play-by-play) and Joe Magrane (color commentary) had been the TV team from the Rays' inception until the end of the 2008 season. Todd Kalas, the son of Philadelphia announcing legend Harry Kalas, serves as the pregame and postgame host as well as a field reporter during games. Todd also hosts magazine shows and specials on FSN Florida and its sister station, Sun Sports, throughout the season. Dick Crippen and Whit Watson have both filled in for Todd Kalas in the past.

Joe Magrane left the Rays television network in November 2008 to take a position at the MLB Network. On February 16, 2009, it was announced that Kevin Kennedy would replace Magrane, but split the duty with Brian Anderson and Todd Kalas. Anderson and Kalas had been in the booth for a few games with Staats while Magrane was in China for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Staats, Magrane, Kalas, Wills, Olden and Slowes were all nominated for the Ford C. Frick Award, the broadcasters' path to the Baseball Hall of Famemarker, in 2008.

Fox Sports Florida began broadcasting a portion of the schedule in HD beginning in 2007, after Tropicana Field's broadcast equipment was upgraded for in-house HD production. About 44 games were carried in HD in 2007, and 58 games were carried in HD in 2008 (not including nationally-televised games).

Most households in the Greater Orlando area could not see Rays games aired on Fox Sports Florida in the past because its primary cable provider, Bright House Networks, refused to carry the network. However, Bright House in Orlando finally placed FS Florida on the air for digital cable subscribers on 2009-01-01.

The Rookie

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays were featured in the movie, The Rookie, a 2002 drama, directed by John Lee Hancock. It is based on the true story of Jim Morris, who had a brief but famous Major League Baseball career.

Morris (at the age of 35) had the ability to repeatedly throw the baseball at 98 miles per hour (158 km/h), a feat that fewer than ten professional baseball players at the time could accomplish. This ability affords him the opportunity to play professional baseball and he signs on with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays organization. He is initially assigned to the minor league Class AA Orlando Rays (now the Montgomery Biscuits) but quickly moved up to the AAA Durham Bulls, later to be called up to the "bigs" during the September roster expansions.

Jim Morris spent two seasons with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, as a relief pitcher. He pitched 15 innings in 21 games, with an earned run average of 4.80.

Team Salaries

Opening Day payrolls for 25-man roster (since 2000):

  • 2008 : $43,745,597
  • 2007 : $24,123,500
  • 2006 : $35,417,967
  • 2005 : $29,679,067
  • 2004 : $29,556,667
  • 2003 : $19,630,000
  • 2002 : $34,380,000
  • 2001 : $56,980,000
  • 2000 : $64,400,000

Rays fandom

The Happy Heckler

"The Happy Heckler" is a fan by the name of Robert Szasz, a Clearwater real estate developer. He has season tickets near home plate, and is known for his rather boisterous heckling. He is so loud that he is clearly audible on both TV and radio broadcasts. He is also known as an "ethical" heckler, heckling opposing players only based on their play and never throwing personal insults. Despite this, he has drawn the ire of some opposing players. He is especially known for heckling Bret Boone so viciously once that Boone confronted him after a strikeout.

More Cowbell

The Rays' Cowbell was originally a promotional idea thought up by principal owner Stuart Sternberg, who got the idea from the Saturday Night Live sketch. Since then, it has become a standard feature of home games, something akin to the Sacramento Kings of the NBA and the bells their fans ring during games. Road teams have often considered the cowbell a nuisance. Once a year the Rays hold an annual "cowbell night" and give away free cowbells. Cowbells are available for purchase throughout the year as well. The most famous proponent of the cowbell is Cary Strukel, who is known as "The Cowbell Kid." Strukel can be seen at most home games sitting in right field and wearing some kind of costume, typically topped with a neon colored wig or Viking horns. The cowbells are rung most prominently when the opposing batter has two strikes, when the opposing fans try to chant, and when the Rays make a good play.

Professional wrestlers

Rays games are frequently visited by professional wrestlers, as there are a large number of wrestlers living in the Tampa Bay Areamarker. The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags), Brutus Beefcake, and Hulk Hogan all appear on a semi-regular basis at Rays games. John Cena appears on occasion.

The Rays held a "Legends of Wrestling Night" on May 18, 2007, featuring several wrestling matches after the game, an 8–4 loss to the Florida Marlins. Outfielder and wrestling fan Jonny Gomes ran interference for the Nasty Boys during the main event.

A second "Wrestling Night" was held on April 19, 2008, after a 5–0 win over the Chicago White Sox. Gomes participated again, this time making a post-match save for the Nasty Boys.

Team Slogans

9=8 (spoken as "nine equals eight") was the mantra used by the Rays during the 2008 season. The phrase was originally created by manager Joe Maddon while riding his bike after the 2007 season. The meaning of the phrase was that if nine players play nine innings of hard baseball everyday, that team would become one of the eight teams who qualify for the playoffs. Prior to 2008 season, the Rays had never had a winning season in franchise history, much less a playoff appearance.

After a slow start to the 2008 season, the Rays began to pick up speed and found themselves among the best teams in the league that year. Maddon had blue t-shirts made with the phrase on the back in yellow, representing the team's new colors, and gave them to the players during the season. His idea to put the slogan on the back of the shirt, rather than the front, was that a person who was walking behind someone wearing the shirt would see it.

Rays right fielder Gabe Gross, who was acquired by the team through a trade early into the 2008 campaign, said it was so much 9=8 as it was more along the lines of 13=8, because the Rays had many players contributing to the team's success that season.

The Rays played well enough throughout the year that they surpassed their previous team record for wins in a single season by more than 20 wins and ultimately clinched a spot in the 2008 MLB Playoffs for their first postseason appearance in franchise history. As the phrase 9=8 had come to fruition, Maddon stated that the phrase also meant that theory and reality had come together.

With each level the Rays reached, the equation was changed. After they clinched their playoff spot, it became 9=4, to represent the teams advancing to the LCS. When they won the ALDS, it became 9=2, for the teams advancing to the World Series. When they won the ALCS, it became 9=1, representing the possible World Series Championship. In the end, they did not win the World Series, losing to the Philadelphia Phillies four games to one.

A week before Spring Training for the 2009 season, Maddon introduced a new slogan, 09 > '08. The meaning of his new idea was that he doesn't like to use the words "great" or "greater," but would rather the phrase be spoken as "better than." His only problem was that there is no symbol for "better than." Originally thinking about creating a new symbol to mean "better than," he admitted that he didn't want to get "too nuts," so the symbol for greater than would have to do. Re-emphasizing that 9 would always equal 8 in the Rays' math, the upcoming season would be greater than the previous. He wanted the players to understand that "in order to build this new road we have to be better than we were last year."

Minor league affiliations

Franchise records

Season records


  • The Finish column lists regular season results and excludes postseason play.
  • The Wins and Losses columns list regular season results and exclude any postseason play. Regular and postseason records are combined only at the bottom of the list.
  • The GB column lists "Games Back" from the team that finished in first place that season. It is determined by finding the difference in wins plus the difference in losses divided by two.
  • ALDS stands for American League Division Series.
  • ALCS stands for American League Championship Series.
  • CPOY stands for Comeback Player of the Year

See also


  1. Chuck, Bill. 100 random things about the Red Sox, Rays, and Yankees, The Boston Globe. Published April 2, 2009. Retrieved May 2, 2009.
  2. Time to shine: Rays introduce new name, new icon, new team colors and new uniforms
  3. Rays: Payroll will rise; question is, how much?
  4. The Official Site of The Tampa Bay Rays: Official Info: Time to shine: Rays introduce new name, new icon, new team colors and new uniforms
  5. Rays: Rays deliver new pitch: We Are One Team
  6. Cot's Baseball Contracts compendium
  7. The Official Site of The Tampa Bay Rays: Tickets: Orlando Series
  8. The Official Site of The Tampa Bay Rays: News: Tampa Bay Rays News
  9. Front office believes current Rays can carry on
  12. Rays are AL East champs
  13. Rays' Turnaround Can Be Attributed To Better Defense
  14. Tampa Bay Rays sign free-agent Pat Burrell
  15. Sternberg: No flexibility to add payroll
  16. Scott Kazmir: Leaving a legacy with the Tampa Bay Rays
  17. Upton hits for first cycle in Rays history
  18. Marc Topkin, "Built To Last: Our Organization of the Year should have staying power,", Dec. 22, 2008
  19. Tampa Bay steps in as new rival
  29. Rays fans will be there with bells on
  30. Needs more cow bell
  31. The Official Site of The Tampa Bay Rays: News: Notes: Gomes enjoys Wrestling Night
  32. The Official Site of The Tampa Bay Rays: News: 'Wrestling Night' returns to The Trop
  33. Maddon uses 9=8 slogan to motivate
  34. Rays clinch club's first playoff spot
  35. New slogan: '09 > '08

External links

Embed code:

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address