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The Devil’s In The Details: Tampa’s Name Change

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(Updated October 24, 2008, at end of post.)

First time I heard about the Tampa Bay Devil Rays dropping the Devil from their name was last week, in the aftermath of the rumble with the Yankees down in Florida. Which just goes to show that what’s in a name isn’t always descriptive: a Devil by any other name can still raise hell a-plenty. You can see the whole skirmish here—it shows the fight while a talking head supplies the background of who did what to whom and when. In the wake of the battle, players from both teams got suspensions to be enforced at the start of the season. I’m wondering what an incident like this before the season even starts might mean for Joe Girardi’s management, not to mention Steinbrenner Junior’s custodianship of the Yanks. We’ll have to wait to find out–but meanwhile, 1934867182_c51e41a081_m.jpgthe Rays’ name change should not go unnoticed.

My first thought was that some Christian fundamentalists had pressured the team to stop glorifying the forces of evil, but my research turned up nothing in this vein; however, the Church of Satan did weigh in.

Although the true reason behind the name change remains unclear, the head of the Church of Satan, Magnus Peter H. Gilmore, believes the team made the move to spite the church.”We were in the midst of negotiations for the souls of some of their players when thecos-smalln.jpg organization low-balled us and we had no choice but to walk out.”

For a minute I thought I’d stumbled onto the website of The Onion, but in fact this was on a blog called The Serious Tip. I’m told it’s a joke, but it reads like the gospel (ahem) truth to me!

Tampa Bay claims they gave the Devil his due in the hopes of reinventing the team and climbing out of the cellar this season. Whatever their reason, Tampa Bay, or The Rays as they’re now called, have proven that changing a team’s name isn’t a major trauma with monumental logistical problems. As owner Stuart Sternberg put it, “We were tied to the past, and the past wasn’t necessarily something we wanted to be known for.”

That said, I am taking this golden opportunity to raise, yet again, one of my ongoing baseball issues: the powers that be in Major League Baseball should ask, or encourage, or even demand, that the Cleveland Indians trash their outdated, racist name, and their offensive logo along with it. I’m not saying they should call themselves Native Americans—just something, anything, that isn’t an insult to the indigenous people of this country. If the Devil can be ousted, then surely a symbol of ignorance and racism can be quietly retired.

October 24, 2008: Is it some kind of miracle? They drop Satan from their roster and suddenly Tampa Bay is the hottest property in Major League Baseball. As of this writing, they’re one-on-one with the Phillies in the World Series, and I must say I greatly enjoyed watching them kick Red Sox butt. After watching them play the Phillies, I’d say Tampa has a better than even chance of becoming World Champions. I’m rooting for them, even though they now constitute a serious future threat to my Yankees, unless this year is a one-shot fluke. Who can resist this story? Besides, I feel a bond with the Rays: this post brought more viewers to my site than any erotic story I’ve posted, and nearly as much as other sex-themed material. The number’s over 1400 and counting. To give you an idea of what that means, my post on the film Tropic Thunder drew 270 readers, average for a non-sexual topic; the one on the Masturbate-a-thon got 839 hits, about average for sex. People Google “Tampa Bay Devil Rays name change” and they end up here. I hope some of you guys stick around to read some of my other stuff. Meanwhile...Play Ball!



6 responses »

  1. I remember when the Devil Rays were just talk in the Florida area. Even then there was much talk about the controversial name that they picked. I believe that they even changed it once before going to the official name of the Devil Rays. Its unbelievable to me how much a name can bother people.

    Mike Wilson

  2. Here’s some good discussion on the matter of the Indians. They may not have been named after Lou Sockalexis, but they were inspired:

    But “what’s in a name?” I personally like the Louis Sockalexis story and that he made it to the bigs, despite cultural barriers. I think Cleveland should somehow keep or alter its name to honor his legacy. He broke the technical color barrier and dealt with enormous racism. I will agree with you the logo of Wahoo (circa 1952) appears extremely racist. That should go, no question.

    In our bankrupt culture, I’d like to try and celebrate the Native Americans. (I remember) even when growing up as a little boy, they fascinated and were revered by everyone–rugged people that lived off the land in harmony with nature, spiritually deep. In a world of spiralling gas prices and near total spiritual loss, we could learn a thing or two from the Native Americans, I think. And since we hold sports in America practically on a par with religion, you could make a case that having a nickname for a team dedicated to you is perhaps the highest honor we can bestow in our weird world.

    Are “Braves” “Chiefs” and “Seminoles” racist? Maybe “Chiefs,” because I think it’s such a common cliche … But I don’t think there’s anything inherently racist about the others. Maybe naming the Indians after a local tribe would be less offensive. Or hey, maybe America should just be forced to wear “Indians” as a badge of ironic shame as our cultural IQ improves over time. I mean, a white guy got lost and thought he was in India.

    Randy–Thanks so much for that pointer–that website is very interesting. I moved it to the top of your comment hoping people will go visit it.

    I agree with you that the name isn’t quite as bad as the logo, and that’s what has to go. But I don’t see it happening any time soon. Thanks for all your input.–MS

  3. Thanks for the link. I had to laugh at “real reportage”. I hope you saw the “satire” tag on the bottom of the post. Me? Interview the head of the church of Satan? I’d probably pee myself.

    I didn’t see the “satire” tag! Thanks for the elucidation!–MS

  4. Good article, I will bookmark this one. I should keep on blogging, too. ^^

  5. Interesting though that they add the “light” logo to their name (which is also placed on their pitcher’s mound). I’m not a religious fundamentalist by any stretch, but I’m not ignorant of religion either. In Isaiah (the old testament) the devil is referred to as the “morning star” (christ is called the same in Revelation). Notice how the TB Rays’ “sunlight” symbol points *downward* instead of up. Could that be a silent token homage to their former name? Just a fun “conspiracy” comment, not to be taken too seriously! 🙂

  6. Thanks for the Tampa Bay Trivia, Tim! Great fun. It cracks me up that all these years later people are still reading this post. Thanks for stopping by.

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