Yesterday we ran a post that questioned the integrity of the St. Pete Times (and to a lesser extent, the Tampa Tribune) when it comes to reporting on the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. We are concerned about the new relationship with the Times being named “The Official Newspaper” of the Rays and the official presenter of the team’s website. One consequence that we foresaw was that the team would provide the Times with information that is unavailable to other media outlets.

You may have noticed a week or two ago that the St. Pete Times ran a story about the Rays changing their name following the 2007 season. The change is likely to also be accompanied by a change in the team colors. President Matt Silverman stated that the team would have a slight modification of the name, and the “speculation” was that the Devil Rays would just drop the “Devil” portion of the name and officially become the Tampa Bay Rays. We are not really sure why this all of the sudden garnered a lot of attention. Nothing official was presented in the article and proposed change is old news amongst anybody that even remotely follows the team. While the story may have been newsworthy in New York or Boston or nationally, it was a waste of space in the St. Pete Times. For all intents and purposes, the team has been the Tampa Bay Rays for a while. It say “Rays” across the front of the home uniform and despite the name of the team’s website, you will not see the word “Devil” anywhere.

Another move that was made at about the same time as the St. Pete Times article was the recent face-lift given to the team’s official website. The team’s trademark green color now has a minimal presence with two shades of blue becoming the dominant colors of the site. While blue is currently an official accent color of the team, the move was taken by many to mean the team will be switching to blue as the dominant color in 2008. Silverman has stated that the team is still deciding from among several new color schemes and that the changes to the website are not an indication that any official decision has been made.

Did the Times see the sites new colors and decide to run an article speculating on the new team name or was the timing purely coincidental? Considering the new relationship between the Rays and the St. Pete Times, it is hard to believe that the concurrence of the two events was a coincidence. More likely, the article and color changes occurred at the same time as part of a campaign to introduce the 2008 changes without making any official announcements, in case there was a backlash from the fans. The team may not have officially decided on a new name or a new set of colors, but the team will most likely drop “Devil” from the name and the new blue hues are most likely the Rays new colors (we have heard that yellow would be the accent color). The team is using the website much the same way they are using the St. Pete Times, as a way of gauging fan interest.

While these specific events may not have a negative effect on Rays fans, it does hint at behind-the-scenes manipulation of the media by the Rays front office. In the long run this type of relationship will not be good for the fans. We should be able to count on our local media to provide us with the news, whether it is good, bad or indifferent, and without influence or bias.

As for us? We have always liked the team’s (recent) uniforms (we like to pretend that the Rainbow Warriors uniforms never existed). But, the blue looks a lot better on everything else, like t-shirts, websites, tattoos, lingerie, etc. But in the end, it is not our opinion that matters, nor that of the St. Pete Times, or the fans in general. The only opinion that truly matters is that of Paul Lukas.



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