About Tampa Bay Rays
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The Tampa Bay Rays are a 1998 American League expansion franchise. Home field for the club is domed Tropicana Field in
By the end of the 2006 season the Rays front office had had enough. Word went out that the team would no longer sign proven veterans who were past their best-before date in its efforts to escape the cellar. The club figured that, if it was going to finish in last place anyway, it should at least field young players that would improve with age. In keeping with the new philosophy, the Rays fielded the youngest line-up in baseball for the 2007 season – in fact, it was the youngest the line-up in major league baseball in a quarter of a century.
The 2007 Tampa Bay Rays again finished last with a 66-96 record, the worst in baseball and 30 games behind the winners of the division, the Boston Red Sox. But it was last place with a difference: it was a last place finish with a fast, powerful, high scoring offence. The Devil Rays were third in the American League in home runs and third in stolen bases (131). So what was the problem?
The problem was the bullpen. Starters James Shields and Scott Kazmir both had exceptional seasons. Shields would have been a 20-game winner if he’d had some support after the 6th. As for Kazmir, he struck out a career high 239 batters and had a 3.48 ERA. But the young bullpen struggled.
Credit goes to the Rays front office for recognizing the problem. Despite finishing with worst record in baseball, the club extended manager Joe Maddon’s contract through 2009. It turned out to be a brilliant move.
For 2008 the club dropped the “Devil” from its name and went from worst to first, compiling a 97-65 record and finishing 2 games ahead of the second place Boston Red Sox. In the MLB playoffs the Rays ousted the Chicago White Sox in 4 and the Red Sox in 7 before losing the World Series in 5 games to the Philadelphia Phillies.
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The Tampa Bay Rays are in the 5-team East Division of the 14-team American League of 30-team Major League Baseball.
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