The Tampa Bay Devil Rays have begun their reinvention process by shortening their moniker to “Rays.”
Since 1998 when they entered Major League Baseball, they have been consistently been among the worst teams, finishing above last place in the American League East only once – 2004 – when they were fourth of five teams. In their 10-year existence, they are 645-972 for an overall winning percentage of .398.
In 2005, Stuart Sternberg purchased the team with the intention of creating something different for the franchise. From the outset, he was interested in changing the team’s identity. His first choice was a shortened version of the original name – indicating a certain degree of respect for the origins of the team, but a new direction as opposed to choosing a completely new identity in the form of a new name.
Some within the organization considered names like “Cannons” or “Dukes.” Of over 1000 suggestions, 80 were seriously considered and ultimately the remake was to drop “Devil” from the name.
The new logo shows a bright yellow burst, evoking the bright sunshine of Florida and the promise their new direction is taking. And while the team hasn’t completely backed away from the “Devil Ray,” the Rays seem to now evoke the Sunshine State as opposed to a feared cartilaginous fish. The new uniforms are also evocative of a more traditional baseball uniform with a more classic look.
The approach from the start has been to restate the image of the team as “classic baseball” – the new darker blue (more than half the teams in Major League Baseball wear it) and the diamond in the new logo. The overall look is one that speaks to baseball in Florida. It also speaks to the intention of the ownership keep the team in Florida, by rebranding the team with such a Sunshine state influenced logo.
The darker blue is representative of the dark blue Florida water, the lighter blue evocative of the bright Florida sky, along with the Sun burst. The rolling in the “R” of Rays evokes a rippling in the water.
Some in the area were concerned with the dropping of the words “Tampa Bay” from the front of the road uniforms as a possible hint that relocation is in the offing at a later time. Five other teams also display the team nickname on the road uniforms.
The hope truly seems to be to rebrand the losing image of the team to a wider, national audience while remaining in Florida. By shortening the nickname instead of completely changing it, evoking St. Petersburg/Tampa in the logo and colors, it is clear that the intention was to give a new beginning without breaking completely from the team’s roots.
Wikipedia, URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tampa_Bay_Devil_Rays
Canadianpress.com, URL: http://canadianpress.google.com/
MLB.com, URL: http://tampabay.rays.mlb.com/news/
TampaBay.com, URL: http://www.sptimes.com/2007/11/09/