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About Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member of the American League (AL) East division. Since its inception, the team’s home venue has been Tropicana Field. Following nearly three decades of unsuccessfully trying to gain an expansion franchise or enticing existing teams to relocate to the Tampa Bay Area, an ownership group led by Vince Naimoli was approved on March 9, 1995. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays began play in the 1998 Major League Baseball season.

Their first decade of play, however, was marked by futility; they finished in last place in the AL East in all but the 2004 season, when they finished second-to-last. Following the 2007 season, Stuart Sternberg, who had purchased controlling interest in the team from Vince Naimoli two years earlier, changed the team’s name from “Devil Rays” to “Rays”, now meant to primarily refer to a burst of sunshine rather than a manta ray, though a manta ray logo remains on the uniform sleeves. The 2008 season saw the Tampa Bay Rays post their first winning season, their first AL East championship, and their first pennant (defeating the rival Boston Red Sox in the ALCS), though they lost to the Philadelphia Phillies in that year’s World Series. Since then, the Rays have played in the postseason in 2010, 2011, and 2013.

Tampa Bay Rays’ chief rivals are the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. Regarding the former, there have been several notable on-field incidents. The Rays also have an intrastate interleague rivalry with the National League (NL)’s Miami Marlins (originally the Florida Marlins), whom they play in the Citrus Series.

Tampa Bay’s primary rivals are the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. The Red Sox/Rays rivalry dates back to the 2000 season, when Devil Ray Gerald Williams took exception to being hit by a pitch thrown by Boston pitcher Pedro Martínez and charged the mound, resulting in a game full of retaliations and ejections on both sides. There have been several other incidents between the teams during the ensuing years, including one in 2005 which resulted in two bench-clearing fights during the game and a war of words between then-Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella and then-Boston pitcher Curt Schilling through the media in the following days. The rivalry reached its highest level to date during the 2008 season, which included a brawl during a June meeting in Fenway Park and a 7-game American League Championship Series between the teams that ended in the Rays’ first ever pennant win.

As a fellow member of the AL East division, the Yankees and Rays play many times each season. There has always been some feeling of a rivalry between the teams because the Yankees make Tampa their spring training, as well as having a minor league team in the Tampa Tarpons; home and fan loyalty in the Tampa Bay area has historically been divided, especially among transplants from the northeastern U.S. The rivalry became more heated in spring training of 2008, when a home plate collision between Rays outfielder Elliot Johnson and Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli was followed the next day by spikes-high slide by Yankees outfielder Shelley Duncan into Rays’ second baseman Akinori Iwamura, prompting Rays outfielder Jonny Gomes to charge in from his position in right field and knock Duncan to the ground.