First of all, when it comes to baseball I am a Braves fan and have been since the day I was born. But a few years ago I thought I might pick an American League team to pull for. I set up a few qualifying factors, primarily that they must be a team that was not currently a good team at that time. That way if either of the three ever start winning I can say I was there when times were rough, see? I am not the type of guy who’ll jump on a BoSox bandwagon just because they decided finally to compete with the Yankquees at their own game. (But if I had to pick between the two, obviously I’d pick the Sox).I printed out a list of all AL teams, crossed out the winningest teams on the list, and then just began crossing them off until I had three left: Detroit, Seattle, and Tampa Bay. Detroit because it’s old school cool, and the other two just because I liked their logos and team names/colors and such.
So: The Tigers. I like the team, the history, the classic look of their uniforms, but…I’m just not a Motor City kind of guy, I guess. Seattle is a cooler city, but I don’t know if it’s a baseball city. It seems too preppy to be a baseball city. Too rainy. Too damn far away, too. Tampa is a lot closer to me (Alabama) and I like the Tampa/St. Pete area, I like(d) the logo, the team colors, and, ultimately I decided my AL team should be in the Eastern Division, just like my NL team…so I chose Tampa. (Disclaimer: In Braves vs. D-Rays matchups, I’m for the Braves. Against all other teams, I’m for the D-Rays). And so far, it’s looked like the team was going to just suck forever. In fact, when I was looking for a favorite AL team, I pretty much liked everything about Tampa except the stadium, which is absolutely the worst in all of baseball, and the fact that they’re in the same division as the Yanks and Sox. Let’s face it, there’s not been much to be supportive of, and I’m not going to travel to St. Pete for a baseball game that is played in that stadium. It’s out of the question.
But now, fast-forwarding to 2008, all of a sudden the winds are changing. The things I liked about the team are changing. The things I didn’t like are also changing. And I’m kind of at a point in my support of the team (which so far equals one ball cap. I also keep up with how much they’re losing. That’s about as much involvement as I can stand) that I want them to win. I was excited when they hired Piniella. I was hoping he could do something with them, but the simple fact is they’ve got to get more, better players for any manager to be able to do anything with them. So what’s changing for ’08?
New Unis: Meh. The new ones are as good as the old ones.
New Logo: Meh. The new one is as good as the old one.
New Name: the Devil Rays are, sadly, no more. Enter the Rays. Frankly, I liked the Devil Rays name, a lot more than the Rays. But that’s really the only change that’s finding me cold.
New stadium plans: Now this is where it really gets exciting. The Rays are planning on building a new stadium, possibly to open 2012. With a modern, attractive new stadium, the Rays might just entice me to make a few trips down to see them.
So, things are looking up in St. Pete. Now if the team can just start winning a few games here and there. Let’s see if we can catch lightning in a bottle.
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