(Tampa Bay Rays on Twitter)
Between the 2007 and 2008 seasons, the Tampa Bay Rays dropped the "Devil" from their nickname, presumably because Satan hasn't won a pennant since "Damn Yankees" was on Broadway. In an effort to "help" club employees stop calling their own team by the old name, the front office created a "donation" box, into which $1 was to be stuffed for every transgression said out loud. The Rays even sent a letter to members of the media who misspoke to donate money to the "Drop the Devil" fund.
Great marketing, and funny. And, as the Stew's Kevin Kaduk wrote in 2008, it really wasn't that difficult of a transition. Heck, by 2014, hardly anyone makes the mistake anymore, even in the mind, probably.
That's why it might have rubbed the Rays the wrong way to find the Chicago Cubs using an old "Devil Rays" flag with Tampa Bay in town for a three-game series. The Rays are getting into the fun by wearing "a "What if?" uniform of their own for the "throwback" game on Sunday, because the team didn't even come into existence until 1998.
They are tailored after retro uniforms they wore at home in 2012. It's a little more 1970s than '80s, but it works.
Regardless, seeing a "Devil Rays" flag must have stung a little, or enough for Tampa Bay's Twitter account to note that Tropicana Field might fly an "Orphans" flag the next time the Cubs play in St. Petersburg. "Orphans" was one of the Cubs' nicknames before Cubs, and it's not particularly complimentary.
The 1980s were a heck of a decade for the Cubs. They won the NL East twice. Ryne Sandberg had the Ryne Sandberg game. The ballpark got lights. Greg Maddux and Don Zimmer worked at Wrigley Field. Harry Caray came to the organization and sang "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" like he meant it. Ferris Bueller even went to a game — even though he was sick as a dog. Moments to cherish.
All the Rays want to do is join in, while being treated with respect by ignoring that whole "Devil" thing. Is it too much to ask, Cubs? Oh, and that's a fine.
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