As previously promised we had representation at the Straub Park celebration last night, naturally that means we asked him to write something, but not to do something utterly redundant and routine, a la "Carl Crawford and Don Zimmer strutted out in new gear then Kevin Costner acted like a musician," with that in mind here's your guest author Joshua Downie with a perspective column; his words after the jump.
Hope, excitement, and the smell of chicken fingers were in the air tonight as over 7,000 people crowded Straub Park in St. Petersburg for the official unveiling of the new Rays uniforms, along with a special fashion show by former and current players, as well as a performance by baseball movie staple Kevin Costner and his band Modern West, followed by a fireworks display. The crowd, larger than expected, had a certain energy and excitement to it and the event could only be considered a success.
Ever since the ownership change there has been rumors of an identity redesign, to assert the new ownership and to help welcome in a new Rays era from the maligned Naimoli reign of old, and it almost happened last year, but the change officially happened tonight. Sternberg and company took the opportunity to officially excise the word "Devil" from the moniker, which had been backed away from over the course of the team's existence. The Glazers tried this same idea to great success when they took over the Buccaneers, and you can't help but compare the two teams. New ownership for both after being doormats and laughing stocks with disliked owners, and most importantly, an extremely talented young core of players ready to lead the team into winning territory.
Granted, the Rays don't have the new stadium like the Bucs did, but they're certainly hoping for a major turn-around from a perennial bottom dweller to a perennial playoff contender in a short timespan akin to the Bucs, to help associate their new look with winning. The thing is, it's not such an absurd concept, is it? If not for the dismal bullpen performance last season the Rays could have made their presence felt in the AL East, and hopefully making some noise this off-season to address the bullpen, it's not such a stretch to think the Rays could be following in the Buccaneers footsteps. Naturally there's more parity in football, but still it's a nice thought, and a wish shared by every Rays fan to go from laughing stock to Cinderella story. Hopefully that will happen, and if it does the new uniforms will be along for the ride.