It's customary for teams to wear their team name on their home uniforms, and the city that they represent on the road unis. But for the Tampa Bay Rays, the youngest team in baseball and one that is struggling with establishing a local and national brand, the name of our harbor has not graced the front of their jerseys since 2007.
The "TB" monogram has remained the cap insignia since Year 1. However with the Cardinals introducing their new "St Louis" birds-on-bat wordmark in 2013, the Rays sit with the Angels and Phillies as the only teams in baseball that don't rep their borough (and for the Phillies, I think we can all say that their nickname is a sufficient identifier for any person unfamiliar with the century-old franchise).
So what gives? Tampa Bay had followed this pattern prior to the 2008 renaming and and rebranding effort.
Maybe it's the lettering, but for whatever reason I seldom see the Tampa Bay wordmark on any Rays merchandise or team shops. It doesn't arc like most teams' city names, and it isn't written in that iconic ascending script that so many teams use. In fact it feels more like a fast-food joint's logo than a baseball team. Think Hardee's or Sonic.
Bear in mind that the only Rays uniform to feature "Tampa Bay" on the jersey is their 70's fauxback alternatives, worn only once each year since last season.
So why is this a big deal? Well, it isn't. It's a small deal. But as a small-market team, the Tampa Bay Rays need to do a better job of promoting the franchise. And geographic location is a good start. Being in Texas, I've had no fewer than two strangers ask me "How long have you been playing baseball?" assuming my Rays shirt is from some high school or community team. And who knows; with their new "sunburst" caps we may be getting used to seeing the Tampa Bay Rays without a hint of "Tampa Bay" about them.
On a side note, could we get the official MLB Twitter account to actually acknowledge the Rays Twitter? Although their handle @RaysBaseball doesn't follow the style of any other teams either.