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Why Rays.com tells you nothing about the baseball team

Big League Stew

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At some point over the course of the season you've probably surfed over to Rays.com to read more about baseball's newest darling — the Tampa Bay Rays.

But Rays.com, as you've probably seen, has nothing to do with Joe Maddon and company. Clicking on it actually brings you to a Seattle restaurant/catering company named Ray's.

Huh?

Here's the full story: Early in 1996, after being hired by Ray's, marketing and PR manager Lori Magaro wanted to create a website to showcase her new company. Several domain names were considered, but she ultimately settled on Rays.com. The team in Tampa Bay was still two years away from its inaugural season.

"I was surprised nobody had taken (the domain name) yet," Magaro told me over the phone Tuesday. "So I jumped on it."

Twelve years later that decision has given Ray's, and Magaro, some unexpected publicity thanks to the baseball team on the other side of the country.

It probably wouldn't be happening if the team still went by "Devil Rays", but since the franchise decided to drop the Devil portion of its nickname late last year, Ray's has received a tad more attention than before.

Magaro has spent all season fielding phone calls from curious people wanting to know if the Rays — who already own the rights to TampaBayRays.com, TBRays.com, RaysBaseball.com and DevilRays.com — have contacted her or the company about selling the domain rights.

Surprisingly, the answer is no and there's a chance they may never call because they wouldn't be alone. The Rays are actually one of eight MLB teams that don't have their exact team name (ie: Angels.com, Cardinals.com) as a web address.

If the Rays ever do decide to pursue the rights, though, they're going to have some competition.

"Lots of other people have pursued me for the name," Magaro said. "Hi my name is Ray, I have this business and I'd really like to have the name ... how much are you willing to sell it for?"

That answer is simple for now. Rays.com is not for sale.

As for the website's popularity, Magaro says the Rays' 97 wins and AL East title haven't necessarily influenced the number of hits they've been getting.

"I haven't noticed that we're getting significantly more hits because of the discussion of the Rays," Magaro said. "But I have been getting a lot of calls from sportswriters."

As for the Ray's employees, let's just say that Tampa Bay Rays fever hasn't caught on in the restaurant yet.

"Florida is kind of far away," Magaro said. "They're all still Mariners fans, though they're pretty disappointed."

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