Devil goes down

Devil Rays no more. Tampa’s faux major league baseball team is now officially known as the “Rays.” A new era indeed. Plan the parade.

“I think this gives us, as an organization, an identity,” owner Stuart Sternberg said at a downtown Tampa rally to introduce the team’s new uniforms. “It was something where we were tied to the past, and the past wasn’t something we necessarily wanted to be known for.

“Nobody’s running and hiding from it, and we’re proud of certain aspects of it, but this was something that the organization was really able to put their arms around.”

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The Rays did indeed need an identity. And who can fault them for deciding to go with new unis over a competent baseball operations staff?

Yesterday’s rally drew about 7,000 fans for the laundry unveiling, or about the average crowd for a non-Red Sox or Yankees appearance at Tropicana Field. But now that the “Rays” are in town, Tampa-St. Pete is all abuzz. Why, check out this clip of manager Joe Maddon being interviewed on local news, or as we like to call it, yahoo hour. As embarrassing as some of our distinguished news desks handled themselves during Boston’s World Series run, give them credit: entire news crews didn’t don the home whites on set.

Among the other finalists for a new name were the Cannons, Renegades, Tropics, Wave, and Dukes. The Tampa Elijah Dukes we assume was not in the running.

Writes the Tampa Tribune’s Marc Lancaster: “Any trepidation the team might have felt about maintaining a nominal link to the past it was trying to shed was tempered by one factor in particular: It wasn’t the Rays that seemed to keep people at a distance; it was the Devil.”

Ah, it was the Devil that kept people away, not the perennial last-place finishes. Good to know.

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What’s most baffling about the name change is how they got there. Lancaster writes that the team started with more than a million computer-generated possibilities. A million. And they end up with “Rays.” The team hired a New York corporate image maker for this, and they got “Rays.” Obviously this is the easiest company in the entire world to work for.

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