[Update: CLICK HERE for what may be the Rays alternate uniform to be used in 2009 that will feature “TAMPA BAY” across the front]

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays found a way to piss off 360 of their 522 fans.

Yesterday, the Tampa Bay Professional Baseball Club officially unveiled their new uniforms. This change was has been in the works since the new ownership group took control of the franchise following the 2005 season, and sketches of the new uniforms were first leaked on the internet on September 20th of this year.

The logos are as first reported, but as we mentioned back in September, we needed to wait until we saw the uniforms “live” before passing judgment, as the coloring is very different when compared to the original sketches, as can be seen in this side-by-side comparison.

The main blue color is clearly much darker (very good). The lighter blue is not nearly as noticeable (good) and the sunburst is almost unnoticeable (thank god). Now that we have seen what the colors look like on the actual uniforms, the comparison to the Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers and especially the Kansas City Royals, seems much less warranted.

Even the grey on the road uniforms is much different than the original sketches, as the color seems to have much less of a blue hue.

Overall we actually like the new color scheme. Yes we understand the green was unique and the blue is less so, but we truly believe there would be more of an uproar if the team were switching from these colors to the green, blue and white of the last few years.

We don’t mind the new colors (we always hated the green alternate jersey), but we understand a lot of fans hate the new design. While some approve and many disapprove of the new hues, there are two other changes that seem to have angered the few loyal fans the Rays do have…

First and foremost is the change from “Devil Rays” to “Rays”. In doing so, the Rays become the first baseball team since the Houston Colt ’45s to change their nickname without moving. This screams boring and unnecessary. David Chalk, who covers the Rays over at Bugs & Cranks is campaigning his editors to keep using the moniker “Devil Rays” and we couldn’t agree more. The team has not used the full name “Devil Rays” on the uniforms since the original Rainbow Warriors set was last used in 2000. So then why the need to change the name? Because some people take offense to the term “Devil”? Sometimes people listen to marketing strategists a little too much. Good idea or stupid? Your fans say “Stupid”. The Rays removed the offensive term and gained a boring one. David Chalk wants to continue using “Devil Rays” on Bugs & Cranks and we hope he does, because we will continue to use the moniker on this site. In fact, we will probably use “Devil Rays” more often.

The second change that has Devil Rays fans up in arms is the removal of “Tampa Bay” from the road uniforms. Many fans are worried that this is a sign of an impending move from the Bay Area. This is another marketing strategy being employed by the team which just goes to reinforce the popular notion that the front office cares more about making money than they do about winning baseball games. The team has a new logo (Rays with a sunburst) and their goal is to push that logo every chance they get and that includes being used on the road uniforms in away cities.

In addition, the team is hoping that the Rays will become a more regionalized entity. There is nothing wrong with that desire, but removing “Tampa Bay” from the away uniforms will have ZERO effect on whether or not people in Orlando will buy Rays merchandise. There are teams littered throughout the four major sports leagues that do well selling merchandise outside of their home area. They do this in spite of having their city name labeled on their away jerseys. The key to marketing outside of your home area is simple. WIN. Win more games. Challenge for the playoffs on a consistent basis. GO TO THE PLAYOFFS every once and a while and all of the sudden fans in Walla Walla will start buying and wearing Rays merchandise, and they won’t give two shits whether or not it says “Tampa Bay” on the front. People in/from Tampa and St. Pete and the surrounding areas are damn proud to be from those places. They want to root for a team that is proud to be from that area also.

Now that we have seen the final product, we must say we do like the color scheme, but we understand why a lot of fans will not. However, we are irate about the name change and the failure to show any pride whatsoever in where the team is from. In the end, the Rays may have alienated more fans than they gained from these changes.

[Update: From a purely aesthetic point-of-view, Mrs. Professor says she prefers the new set, but it was a close call and trust me she has more style sense than any of us]

New Rays Dawning? [TampaBay.com]
The New Tampa Bay Rays Uniforms [Rays Index]
Fighting For The Devil & The Soul Of Bugs & Cranks [Bugs & Cranks]

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13 Comments

  1. David Chalk says:

    Professor Cork --

    Thanks very much for the support -- for once, we seem to be in total agreement. The official name change is perhaps the worst decision in the history of the franchise.

    Our Editor In Chief at Bugs & Cranks though had been less than receptive so far. He has thrown up the following challenge in the Comments section:

    "Any and all DEVIL Ray fans that would like to denounce the name change please do so in the comments below."

    Any support from D-Ray fans in the comment section will be much appreciated and is probably needed to keep the Devil Rays name visible and PROMINENT on our site.

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  2. Robert Rittner says:

    I really think you are obsessing on an insignificant issue. Frankly, I like Rays (and believe me it has nothing to do with disliking devil) but who cares! I liked Ospreys as a name. In my view, you are unnecessarily focusing attention on a negative and exaggerating its significance in a way that can do nothing except breed ill-will.

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  3. David Chalk says:

    Mr. Rittner --

    You're probably right that I'm obsessing, but here's why I care...

    As Cork has said in the past, Rays is fine as a shortened nickname, but as the full official name it's hard to think of anything that could sound worse than Tampa Bay Rays.

    And the apparent reasons for the change are beyond insulting -- that suddenly a name change will make us forget the struggles of 10 years and will attract new fans. That that's the reason the Trop doesn't sell out -- one word, not wins and losses.

    I love the Devil Rays, and I don't want any part of that sham.

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  4. Robert Rittner says:

    Nobody is suggesting that the name change is intended to make people forget the sorry past. In fact, in today's paper, Sternberg EXPLICITLY rejects that motive. There is nothing to be insulted about.

    Fine, if you do not like the sound of Tampa Bay Rays. I don't think it sounds great either. So what? It is like a fellow getting robbed at gunpoint worrying about whether the mugger notices that his socks don't match.

    I see no reason to start some sort of campaign to get people to remember the original name, taking attention away from the important and interesting issues facing the team and, in my view, creating a distracting, petty and useless controversy.

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  5. Robert Rittner says:

    Oh yes, this is what I mean. Do you really think the following:
    ___________________________
    "The official name change is perhaps the worst decision in the history of the franchise."
    ______________________________
    You really want to elevate this as an error worse than the hit show or the Abreu trade or dealing McGriff for nobodies? That is the kind of hyperbole I expect from radio talk show hosts trying to juice up their ratings by appearing bold and controversial.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    Must admit...when i first saw the sketches i hated them. these are starting to grow on me.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    These are awful! No chance I will buy a new jersey.

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  8. Elijah's 6th Love Child says:

    I too just dont see the reason for the change. The Blue Jays have been known as just the "Jays" for a long time now (something about a rivalry between the ownership and another group) with only Jays on the unis. Still, they never saw the need to change the name officially. Sometimes, it is just nice to say "THE TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS". It has a nice ring to it that "THE TAMPA BAY RAYS" does not.

    And i dont care what the reasoning, but TAMPA BAY needs to be on the away jerseys. For one thing, the new jerseys are boring enough already, but now there isnt even really a difference between the home and away. They are nearly identical. BORING

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  9. Anonymous says:

    It's comments like Rittner's the reason team names like this are even applied to franchises; (Texans/Wizards/Ducks. People with such lackadaisical attitudes and those that things "grow on" easily wouldn't mind if the team was named the butterflies because of the "insignificance" of it.
    I'm glad to see D-Rays fans up in arms about this. How do you establish tradition? When I heard about and saw the changes I shook my head in disgust, and I'm a Marlins fan (w/ my own problems!) I feel bad for the fans, actually, embarassed for them. ::Thumbs up:: for keeping the D-Rays name alive, instead of this "ray" of sunshine ::rolleyes:: these corporate salesholes think they're creating.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    This is bullshit. I've been trying to be a DEVIL RAYS fan ever since they started but now, I dont think I give a shit. Honestly, we blend in more with other teams, we don't have jerseys that stand out and make us happy we cheer for the D-Rays. I think this is bullshit and I will not attend a game at all this year. I loved the green and blue idea, no one else has it! Why don't the new owners just announce to the world that they're relocating the Rays? Cuz we all know it's coming!

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  11. Anonymous says:

    This is stupid. The Devil Rays WERE one of the coolest names and logos in the MLB! It's NOT offensive, has NOTHING to do with the Devil, and tied in perfectly with the Tampa Bay area as a Devil Ray is actual a sea animal and we who live here and go to the beach know how to do the stingray shuffle as being stung by a ray is painfull and that added toughness to our name and logo, unlike the weak, gay sunbeam logo; this aint T-ball guys! This is a real SPORT! Sports are suppose to be cool and tough, not weak and gay. You bet all the other teams and fans will be laughing at us harder now and calling us the Tampa GAY Rays!!

    Poor, stupid decision and waste of our $$ which could and should had gone to making are team STRONGER and therefore more respected; not looked upon as we we over dosed on anti depressants! Oh how nice our sunbeam is, lovely .... Our poor players will be mocked badly!

    Great decision owner; thankfully you are NOT our coach!!

    R.I.P. Tampa Bay Devil Rays! Us fans here were so pleased with your name, color, and ray logo. Your uniforms were unique and other fans I knew from other cities all admitted how cool our ray logo was! Your name had a catchy ring to it! We hope you will be like a soap character and be brought back to life again sometime in a future season as ratings will be smaller without your presence I predict. No one will ever compare you to "Buccaneer Bruce".

    XO, will miss U!
    - Sports Lover

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  12. Anonymous says:

    P.S. I will NOT buy any new "Rays" merchandice! I hope the team don't order too much of the gay looking items as I predict those won't sell very well. I especially don't think many straight men will like to buy something with a sunbeam on it!
    - Sports Lover

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  13. J.R. says:

    All of these people who are going beserk about this name, logo, and jersey change are obviously not true Rays fans.

    I'll admit that I liked the name Devil Rays but seriously, is it THAT big of a difference if they were just gonna say Rays on the jersies anyway, and besides that is basically what we called them anyways.

    The logo just has the sunbeam to support the fact that the Rays are from the sunshine state to begin with, if you want to consider yourself gay for being a Rays fan and wearing Rays stuff, then go root for the Yankees or Red Sox. The Rays are starting fresh so we don't need people who just put the team down anymore.

    Finally, I do think that they should put the city's name on the front of the away jersies. All of the other teams do it and the Rays should be no exception. Other than that, however, the jersies are good. Heck, they're better than the old jersies. If you people want your team to look like a bunch of clowns running around in that green color, then we will get a bunch of clowns coming in and playing for us. If the Rays want to turn around, they must appeal to the players and I think the new jersies do that very well.

    All of you people make me sick. You try and act like you are Rays fans and you probably don't go to one game out of the whole year. Support the new ownership, at least they seem to have the right ideas on their mind.

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