Tampa Bay Rays

Wed, 05 Nov 2008 21:37

The history of the Tampa Bay Rays

Information about the MLB team Tampa Bay Rays.

The Tampa Bay Rays are one of the teams in Major League Baseball. Joining the American League in 1998, the Tampa Bay Rays have experienced much success in their short stint. Although they have not won the World Series yet, the Tampa Bay Rays have made successful moves that allowed them to reach the championship in 2008, a mere 10 years after they entered the league. Many teams in the league took more than that to even make it to the playoffs. With their trip to the World Series, the Rays are hungrier to get that first championship. It has been a fast 10 years but they are not planning on slowing down.

The team calls St. Petersburg, Florida their home. They have been playing in the area’s Tropicana Field since 1998. Before the Rays were instituted to Tampa Bay, the area was used mostly for spring training. The people of Tampa Bay were trying to get teams such as the Seattle Mariners, the Chicago White Sox and the Texas Rangers to move to their city. However, these teams declined and they opted to remain in their current areas. In 1992, Tampa Bay was about to get the San Francisco Giants to move in. However, the move was vetoed by the MLB owners and the people of San Francisco.

In 1995, The MLB finally agreed to give expansion teams to Tampa Bay and Phoenix. This event signified the birth of the Tampa Bay Rays and the Arizona Diamondbacks. The team had their first game in March 31, 1998. The Rays’ first match was against the Detroit Tigers. On that day, the Rays got their very first home run through Wade Boggs. They lost that match but would have a good start in their first season. However, they would lose more games and would not reach a .500 win percentage for the season. To help them in their cause, the team signed Jose Canseco before the start of the 1999 season.

The Tamba Bay Rays in the 21st century

Boggs ended his career after the 1999 season. His number was retired by the Rays, although he has spent more time with the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. In 2005, Boggs was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Although Boggs was no longer part of the Rays, the team already has the services of Greg Vaughn and Vinny Castilla. These sluggers, together with Canseco and Fred McGriff were known as the “Hit Show” due to their reputation as strong batters. Yet, the talents of these players were already waning and the team continued their struggles in the coming seasons.

The Rays were looking to become better during the off-season and they made major signings, both in the roster and in their management. The team got the services of Ben Grieve and they removed Larry Rothschild as team manager to be replaced by Hal McRae. However, the team did not improve and the owners decided to cut down on their payroll. The Rays went for youth movement and worked around Aubrey Huff, Randy Winn, Carl Crawford and Toby Hall. These players are key components in their new lineup’s rotation. Yet, their combination was not enough to earn them a spot in the playoffs.

By 2003, the Rays were being managed by Lou Piniella. He was essential in the championship run of the Cincinnati Reds in 1990 and the winning seasons of the Seattle Mariners in 1995, 2000, and 2001. In his first year as manager of the Rays, the team did not improve in the standings but they did manage to get seven more wins as compared with their previous season. The Rays had an emerging player in Rocco Baldelli, who showed his skills by breaking off the bat of Sammy Sosa. The team was not among the critics’ favorites to become better the following season but the Rays proved them wrong by posting their best team record, 70-91.

Huff, Crawford and Baldelli were emerging as strong hitters and the team owners were looking to acquire another young talent to add to their roster. In July 2004, their pitcher Victor Zambrano was traded to the New York Mets for Scott Kazmir. Their new player would become their best pitcher in years to come. In 2005, the Rays yet again suffered a losing season, forcing Piniella to the brink. He got frustrated with the owner’s push for success thus he asked to be released from his contract. The Rays would then look to rebuild their team once more, focusing on their young talents such as Baldelli and Crawford.

Joe Maddon would become the new manager of the Rays after the departure of Lou Piniella. Under his tenure, the team owners would make big improvements in Tropicana Field. New seating was installed in the ballpark and the prices for the tickets were lowered. The management was looking for more fans to attend their games. With all these changes, 40,199 fans came in to the 2006 home opener. By the All-Star break, the Rays were only 11 games below the .500 mark. Yet, the management was not convinced that the team would reach the playoffs. They would then trade much of their veteran players to rebuild on their young group.

The Rays would continue their losing ways for the coming years. Yet, the team got more people to watch their games by having an increase of almost 20% in attendance. To make up for the team’s losing efforts, the Rays looked for talent overseas. They would then get the services of Akinori Iwamura. The Rays would also commit themselves to improving their new talents. By 2007, the Rays already have the youngest starting lineup in the league. Pitchers Jamie Shields and Scott Kazmir were the team’s front runners while they were supported by Carl Crawford, BJ Upton, Akinori Iwamura and Delmon Young.

There were many analysts who again counted out the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008. The team made significant trades by giving away Delmon Young, Jason Pridie, and Brendan Harris to the Minnesota Twins for Jason Bartlett, Eduardo Morlan, and Matt Garza. The team also acquired Troy Percival and Cliff Floyd. Their third baseman, Evan Longoria, was moved to the starter spot. The Rays also managed to get David Price, one of the top college baseball players during that time. During 2008 spring training, the Rays finished with 18 wins. This was a club record.

The Tampa Bay Rays of today

By July 2008, the Rays were leading their division by more than 5 games. This achievement would push the team to go even further. The Rays would eventually reach the postseason for the first time. They would go on to face the Chicago White Sox in the American League Division Series, whom they would defeat in four games. In the next round, the Tampa Bay Rays would meet with the Boston Red Sox. The series would go for seven rounds but the Rays would come out as the victors. In the 2008 World Series, the Rays would face the Philadelphia Phillies. Even though the Rays have home field advantage, the Phillies were able to beat them 4-1. The Rays' season was over. Yet, many analysts praised their performance as they proved their doubters wrong.