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Previously known as Tampa Bay Devil Rays (1998-2007)

First Game: March 31, 1998 vs. Detroit Tigers at Tropicana Field 6-11

Franchise Record: (through 2014) 1,272-1,480 (.462)

Post Season Record: 13-17 (.433)

World Series Titles: 0

American League Pennants: 1 (2008)

Postseasons: 4 (2008, 2010, 2011, 2013)

Ballpark: Tropicana Field (March 31, 1998-)

Franchise Players: Carl Crawford, Aubrey Huff, Scott Kazmir, Evan Longoria, David Price

Tampa Bay Devil Rays logo

Created in the expansion of 1998, the Tampa Bay Rays finished last in AL East Division six consecutive years (1998 to 2003) and again from 2005 to 2007. The Rays play at Tropicana Field. The team was known as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays its first 10 years. A number of All-Stars and veterans have been among the Rays Managers and Coaches in their history.

The Devil Rays finished fourth in 2004 with 70 wins, the most in franchise history and their only non last-place finish under their original name. By the end of the 2007 season, they had the worst franchise winning percentage of all current teams. They also had the worst attendance in the American League each season from 2001 to 2005.

Current owner Stuart Sternberg took the club over from Vince Naimoli after the 2005 season. After the 2007 season the team changed its name to the Tampa Bay Rays.

Their fortunes turned around dramatically at that point, as the team, led by a core of youngsters including pitchers Scott Kazmir, James Shields and Matt Garza, OF B.J. Upton, C Dioner Navarro and 3B Evan Longoria, suddenly emerged as one of baseball's best teams in 2008. They kept pace with the World Champion Boston Red Sox early in the season, and saw the New York Yankees progressively drop away from the race. They bested their previous team-high for wins by late August and outpaced the Red Sox down the stretch to win the AL East title outright and finish with the second-best record in the American League at 97-65.

In the ALDS, the Rays defeated the Chicago White Sox in four games thanks to strong pitching and power hitting by Longoria and Upton, then defeated the Red Sox in the ALCS with Garza winning two games, including the deciding 7th game, and the entire team continuing its hot hitting. However, the fairy tale came to an end in the 2008 World Series, as the Rays lost in five games to the Philadelphia Phillies. Still, the team had gone in one season from a laughingstock to one of baseball's best teams, with a core of young players promising more success in future years.

[edit] Further Reading

  • Jonah Keri: The Extra 2%: How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Baseball Team from Worst to First, ESPN Books, Random House, New York, NY, 2011. ISBN 978-0345517654


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