They are a team that usually flies under the radar. The Tampa Bay Rays aren’t in one of Major League Baseball’s big markets. Hardly anyone goes to their games. Their roster isn’t filled with superstars like their World Series opponents, the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Rays haven’t been around nearly as long as those Dodgers, who hold a 3-2 series lead over the Rays in the 2020 World Series. Just how long have those Tampa Bay Rays been around?
The Tampa Bay Rays are one of six teams to not win a World Series
The Tampa Bay Rays are one of six Major League Baseball teams to have not won a World Series. That could all change with two more victories. The Rays find themselves trailing the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 in the 2020 World Series. Game 6 is tonight and the Rays are hoping to live another day.
Those small-market Rays have been fun to watch during a wacky 2020 season that saw them play just 60 regular-season games due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). No fans were allowed into stadiums, but those Rays, usually last in MLB attendance, are used to that. Tampa Bay finished the season 40-20, seven games in front of the New York Yankees in the American League East.
A win tonight and then another in Game 7 would separate the Rays from five other teams who have never been crowned World Series champions. Those other teams, according to USA Today, are the Colorado Rockies, Seattle Mariners, Milwaukee Brewers, San Diego Padres, and the Texas Rangers.
How long have the Rays been around?
In 1995, an ownership group led by Vince Naimoli was approved to have a Major League Baseball team in Tampa. The team began play in 1998. Originally, the team was known as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Naimoli, at first, wanted the team to be called the Sting Rays, but the right to that name was already held by another team.
The Rays were highly unsuccessful during the first decade of play. The Rays finished in last place every year except the 2004 season. That 2004 season, they finished second to last. The name change seemed to do wonders for the team as the Rays, under third-year manager Joe Maddon, went from worst to first and posted their first winning record in franchise history.
Tampa Bay finished 97-65 that season and won the American League pennant. The Rays made their first appearance in the World Series where they lost to the Philadelphia Phillies 4-1. The team has since been highly competitive, winning the AL pennant again this season and finishing with 90 or more wins in 2018 and 2019.
Why are they not the Devil Rays anymore?
In November of 2007, it was announced the Tampa Bay Devil Rays would undergo a facelift. The team dropped ‘Devil’ from its name and changed its team colors. The name change did wonders as the team earned its first winning season and went to the World Series in 2008.
“We are now the Rays,” said Stuart Sternberg, the team’s principal owner during the makeover announcement, according to MLB.com. “Tampa Bay and the Sunshine State are beautiful places. We want the Rays to reflect the best our region has to offer.”
Sternberg said the switch was needed to change their identity heading into their second decade of play. “As we enter our second decade of play, it is important that we express a classic, crisp, traditional baseball look,” Sternberg said. “These new marks will have a positive effect on the franchise as we progress towards new levels of achievement and success.”