Two months after the Rays and the City of St. Pete drew their lines in the sand over where a new stadium would be built, the Rays will offer their latest, none-too-subtle message.

Tonight is Turn Back the Clock and the Rays will wear 1970′s Tampa Tarpon jerseys. Yes, they are wearing the jersey of a former Red minor league affiliate, and yes that’s kinda weird. But more importantly, the Rays, who have twice previously worn the Tarpons unis (1999, 2006), will take it a step further tonight and don the Tarpons road jersey. As can be seen in the image at right, it says “Tampa” across the front.

This is ironic in that despite the Rays currently having four different jerseys, none say “Tampa Bay” across the front. It is also a shot at the City of St. Pete, as the Rays have made it clear they would like to explore stadium options on the other side of the bay.

Would the Rays threaten to change their name to the Tampa Rays should the City of St. Pete refuse to cooperate? It wouldn’t surprise us. They are clearly showing that there is precedent for a professional sports team in the bay area to completely ignore Pinellas County.

And don’t think this is just a coincidence. Everything the Rays do has a specific purpose and every move is part of a bigger plan.

Of course, the best response from Mayor Bill Foster would be to show up tonight in a St. Pete Pelicans jersey. Those jerseys are much prettier anyway.

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21 Comments

  1. Beth says:

    Wherever they play, I think they'll stay the Tampa Bay Rays. They may be annoyed with the St. pete political leaders, but they will still want to hold onto the fans who don't actually live in Tampa.

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  2. Gus says:

    When you are as small as our market, the LAST thing you want to do is narrow your regional appeal.

    Rather than go narrow, they could claim "Florida" when the Marlins move into their new stadium and go to the Miami Marlins (as part of their lease requirement), but I doubt that too.

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    • Cork Gaines says:

      I actually dont think the Rays care what it says before "Rays." If they did, we would see it on the jerseys. To the Rays front office, they are just "The Rays." And in that sense, I can see them threatening to drop "Bay." Now, that being said, I doubt it would happen, but I can see them threatening to make it happen.

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  3. jpfdeuce says:

    I thought I recalled that St. Pete, at the time of the talks regarding a waterfront ballpark, had pitched / made a point that the Rays (if they got their stadium) would have to be renamed the St. Pete Rays. They wanted St. Pete stressed...

    (That was a RaysIndex.com post I was recalling: http://www.raysindex.com/2008/03/new-stadium-mayors-support-for-new-stadium-may-hinge-on-name-change-to-st-pete-rays.html )

    And of course, on all the mock-ups of the stadium, they stressed St. Pete all over the ballpark.

    So, the opening salvo of one-city-or-another was fired in 2007 by the Jan-Brady-community of the TB Metro region

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    • Cork Gaines says:

      that's a fair point.

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      • jpfdeuce says:

        Another point to make in this name game -- Tampa has never pressed -- ever, to my knowledge -- to have it's name alone as the name of a TB sports club. Why? Their name is in the name of "Tampa Bay"...

        No one in Tampa is going to ask the Rays to change their name to represent a single city in the area. They've pushed on the fact that the team needs the REGION. It's counter-productive in teh long run to get into the Hatfield-vs.-McCoy pissing match between the two sides of the Bay.

        St. Pete, on the other hand, wants it's name to denote ownership of the club and to claim status in the world. "We beat Tampa in this case! We beat Tampa!"

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        • Gus says:

          It was always Tampa Stadium, Tampa Airport.

          The "Tampa Bay" construct was first created with the the Buccaneers expansion, to expand the reach of the franchise. The local governments had nothing to do with it. A Culverhouse thing. Coming off of years of the Green Bay football dynasty in the prior decade didn't hurt the concept, either.

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          • jpfdeuce says:

            Actually, Gus, it was the NFL itself who suggested it. Not Culverhouse. But your point stands.

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          • Cork Gaines says:

            This is actually something I have long wondered. The Rowdies started play in '75 a year before the Bucs. But I am not sure which team was actually "born" first. And I was too young to remember, but were the Rowdies always the "Tampa Bay" Rowdies or did that change after Tampa was awarded a football franchise?

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  4. Brett says:

    "Tampa Rays" and "St. Pete Rays" sounds dumb. Something about the mixture of mono and polysyllabic words that doesn't work.

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  5. Gatorbuc15 says:

    The Rays need a new stadium, PERIOD. In the bay area or Pinellas County.If they don't get a new stadium, we won't have to worry about St. Pete or Tampa Bay, being on the jersey. Because they'll move to a different area. Or, a different state.

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  6. Joe D. says:

    When they do these throw back nights they also change the scoreboard's text, so instead off TB it will say TAM, at least tats what they did when they wore the St Petersburg Saints jerseys, the scoreboard read STP and all night they referred to them as the Saints...

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  7. Don says:

    1/2 of the people posting here will be dead, gone, or wouldn't care about the Rays by the time they get property, permits, build and move...at best... probably 10 years...so who gives a s--t!

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  8. Joe says:

    Bullcrap!! They are the ones who refuse to have Tampa Bay on the road uniforms and have TAMPA on the home uniforms.. Stuart Sternberg, I wish I had the words to say right now, but they don't do it right. Awfully hypocritical, and highly exposing. It is time for every day, common fans see what is happening, it is the Rays trying themselves now to drive a wedge between the civic leaders, yet they are the ones trying to promote unity!! What good does it do the Rays!!!!

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  9. Carey says:

    On a side note, they could expand their reach even further by putting "Florida" in front of the Rays. I believe that becomes available next year.

    Food for thought.

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  10. Joe says:

    Heck no, if they do that, then I am done with them. They would be deliberately forsaking the area. They will be chickenbleeps if they played that card.

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    • Carey says:

      Gonna have to disagree with you here Joe. Now, I'm not saying they do it, but I do believe there is opportunity here. Let's face it, Palm Beach, Broward and Dade counties may as well be another state as far as the rest of Florida is concerned. I think it makes perfect sense for the Rays to market themselves as the team for "the rest of the state."

      Let's also face this fact: New stadium or not, this team will never be a league leader in attendance. That said, they will have to find better ways to maximize their revenue. TV, and a new deal or even a partnership similar to the NESN deal are going to be key for this team's future.

      Again, not saying change to Florida Rays. But I think it makes sense to start thinking of the Rays - and marketing them - as Florida's team.

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  11. Joe says:

    Here is my thing, why are the Rays so concerned about broadening their reach, when they are having difficulty in shoring up support within their immediate area!!! You got people complaining about access even as short as the area by Hillsborough and Dale Mabry, let alone the folks up in Cheval or New Tampa or Brandon. These are the fans that the Rays' bread will be buttered by, not the marginal fan who comes from Jacksonville, Orlando, Daytona or Vero Beach. This broadening approach makes me sick to my stomach when they know there is better rate of return and better public relations from firming up your access from Plant City, New Port Richey, Brandon. These are the CORE fans, and that broad approach won't work for another 10-15 years. It takes TIME!!

    That is where my fury comes from. They know this, and that is why the complaints permeate. It's what a friend told me a "functional" argument. Instead of embracing their situation, they have basically stuck their middle finger at it, and want it ALL. Sternberg, unlike Vinik, doesn't even live in Pinellas or Hillsborough, which is a source of Bill Foster's anger.

    In closing for now, before you can even consider being Florida's team, why don't you be Tampa Bay's team! Make it undisputed. Yes, there will always be transients here, but the Rays forsake that and try to underscore that. That is their challenge and burden to overcome. Driving down I-4 to some is not like driving around 128 or the Pike in and around Boston, you got the MBTA up there. You got so many fans here LOCALLY that they can work with, and that they are having difficulties seems to be the genesis of what I perceive as the basis of the complaint

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  12. Gus says:

    Cork:

    The NFL awarded the Bucs franchise in 1974 and I'm 90% sure the the team was named before the Rowdies started play in 1975 ("The Buccanneers are coming" bumper stickers (from McDonalds) where everywhere in the area in 1975. )

    And I think the dueuce was right in his comment above that "Tampa Bay" was an NFL suggestion and/or something Culverhouse inherited (Culverhouse being a late replacement owner for the original failed Tampa group (McCluskey?)).

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