The Tampa Bay Rays have sure stirred things up during the franchise’s brief tenure in the American League East. Debuting as an expansion franchise in 1998, the Rays have already developed heated rivalries with traditional division powers Boston and New York, made four postseason appearances (including a trip to the 2008 World Series), and become a force to be reckoned within arguably MLB’s most competitive and moneyed division. Rays tickets appeal to fans across Central Florida and beyond, who come to the 42,735-seat Tropicana Field to see the likes of franchise favorite and former Rookie of the Year Evan Longoria, considered by many the best active third baseman in the game.
TAMPA BAY RAYS TEAM INFO
Following six straight winning seasons (2008 to 2013), the Rays have been battling to get back above the .500 mark, having finished at the bottom of the division in 2016. Gone is the bespectacled Joe Maddon, who managed the team between 2006 and 2014, and last year guided the Chicago Cubs to its first World Series title since 1908. But Tampa Bay has plenty to be excited about, including pitcher Chris Archer, a Cy Young short-lister in 2015. A productive offseason also landed former Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos, an All-Star and Silver Slugger Award winner in 2016.
TAMPA BAY RAYS HISTORY
Following nearly three decades of futility in trying to land an expansion franchise or enticing existing teams to relocate to Central Florida, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays began play in the 1998 Major League Baseball season. The ballclub’s first decade was a rough won. Tampa Bay finished last in the A.L. East in all but one season (2004), when they finished fourth. But a subsequent name change seemed to make all the difference. The franchise abbreviated its name from Devil Rays to Rays in 2008 and went on to post its first winning season, first division title, and first pennant (defeating the rival Boston Red Sox in the ALCS). Though they went on to lose to the Philadelphia Phillies in their World Series debut, the Rays have since been consistent contenders, gaining postseason berths in 2010, 2011 and 2013.
TAMPA BAY RAYS GREATEST MOMENTS
On the final day of the 2011 regular season, the postseason fate of four teams fighting for two playoff spots across both leagues was decided, among them the Tampa Bay Rays, who defeated the division rival New York Yankees with dramatic home runs in the ninth (by Dan Johnson) and 12th (by Evan Longoria) innings to win the A.L. Wild Card berth. Including Game 162 matchups between the Red Sox and Orioles, Cardinals and Astros, and Phillies and Braves, the on-the-edge-of-your-seat events of that day are remembered by many as the "most thrilling 129 minutes in baseball history.”