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  • The Tampa Bay Rays are going back to 1979....create a fictional backstory for them!

    The story:

    http://www.bradenton.com/2012/06/21/...ro-jersey.html

    The Tampa Bay Rays will turn back the clock to 1979 when the Detroit Tigers visit Tropicana Field on Saturday, June 30 at 7:15 p.m. Tropicana Field will be accented in a '70s theme and Earth Wind & Fire will perform following the conclusion of the game as part of the Rays 2012 Summer Concert Series produced by Ruth Eckerd Hall on the Road. This marks the tenth "Turn Back the Clock" game in Rays history.The Rays have designed a hypothetical uniform from 1979 that is intended to be a lasting fixture for Rays fans, fully embracing the style of the era while keeping the Rays modern colors. A patch on the left sleeve of the jersey features a City of St. Petersburg seal that was used in 1979.

    (More at link)

    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ _________

    So, this story gets my creative mind going. How would a franchise that started play in 1998 go back to 1979? Intriguing to say the least, but I've come up with something of a backstory for them. Feel free to indulge if you like:

    In March 1976, as a result of a lawsuit filed by the City of Seattle due to the loss of the Seattle Pilots, the American League chose to award an expansion team to Seattle, to be named the Mariners, and play as the 13th AL franchise. However, to avoid an unequal number of teams, the league was pushed into a conundrum as where to place the 14th team. Three candidates eventually emerged....Washington DC, Toronto, and Tampa Bay. Each city had their advantages and disadvantages. Washington's RFK Stadium was still relatively new, but the departure of the Senators just 5 years earlier left a bad taste in MLB's mouth. Toronto would give the AL a foot into Canada (much like Montreal did for the NL in 1979), but the team would be forced to play in Exhibition Stadium, a CFL Football stadium oddly configured for baseball and subject to the cold open elements in April and October. A latecomer to the expansion race was Tampa Bay, who promised a new stadium to open within two years of being awarded a team, with the team temporarily playing in an expanded Al Lang Stadium for those two years.

    The vote was close, with Tampa Bay barely edging out Toronto for the 14th team. Thus, the following year, the Tampa Bay Rays--bespeckled in combination baby blue and navy blue uniforms--took the field against the Chicago White Sox on April 7, 1977 before a sold out crowd of 21,748 at Al Lang Stadium.

    Unfortunately, the team's poor play (as was natural for expansion teams) tempered enthusiasm in the area for the new stadium the region had promised the AL. Most problematic was the constant squabbling between the city governments of Tampa and St. Petersburg as to where the new stadium would be located, with each city wanting the bragging rights but neither city willing to foot the stadium bill alone. As a result the combination of poor play on the field, uncertainty as to the location of the new stadium, and clearly inadequate and cramped conditions at the team's temporary home at Al Lang, attendance plummetted in the early 1980s.

    Further uncertainty only called into question the team's future in Tampa Bay. Although the Rays managed to put together their first winning season in 1983, by 1984 a group of investors from Toronto was heavily courting Rays ownership to sell the team, which would be moved to Toronto and renamed the Blue Jays. Speculation about the team's future in Tampa Bay continued throughout 1984 and 1985 as the Toronto rumors persisted; the City of St. Petersburg managed to put together a ballot proposal for a new 45,000 seat domed stadium, but local opposition remained high.

    What ultimately changed the situation was the Rays improbable 1985 playoff run, with the team ultimately winning 92 games and beating out the New York Yankees to win the AL East title. In the ALCS, the Rays took a 3-1 lead to the Kansas City Royals but were unable to hold on to that advantage as the Royals ultimately won the series 4 games to 3. While the ALCS was a disappointment for Tampa Bay fans, they were nonetheless re-engergized by the thought of post-season baseball, and the fanbase truly embraced the team for the first time. As a result, the St. Petersburg ballot initiative for the new stadium, once thought to be a long shot, passed by a narrow margin, and the team's future in the region was finally secured.

    The Rays final seasons at Al Lang featured competitive teams and improved attendance. However, Rays ownership wanted a new direction once the team moved into its new stadium; as such, it was announced that the team would be renamed the "Devil Rays" once the new stadium opened in 1990.

    On April 10, 1990, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, wearing newly redesigned rainbow uniforms, opened the Florida Suncoast Dome with a 2-1 victory over the Texas Rangers before a sellout crowd of 45,369. That season would see Devil Rays pitcher Dave Stieb pitch the franchise's first ever no-hitter, and the Suncoast Dome (at the time praised by many critics as being the "best, most modern stadium in baseball") drew over 3 million fans that year.

    The following year would see continued success on the field and at the gate for the Devil Rays and the hosting of the 1991 All Star Game, and another AL East title.

    But things would only get better for the Devil Rays. In 1992, the Devil Rays went all the way to the World Series and defeated the Atlanta Braves 4 games to 2 for their first ever MLB title. Not satisifed with just one trophy, the Devil Rays returned to the World Series to face the Philadelphia Phillies. In one of baseball's greatest moments, Devil Rays right field Joe Carter hit a three run home run off of Phillies closer Mitch Williams in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 6 to capture the Devil Rays second straight World Series championship.

    Sadly, the Devil Rays' golden age would end shortly thereafter. Attendance at the Suncoast Dome would slowly decline due to the rise of the more popular, baseball friendly "new classic" stadiums such as Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Fans were left bitter and disillusioned by the player's strike of 1994. The Devil Rays' championship season of 1993 would be its last winning season for 15 years.

    Attendance at the Suncoast Dome, now renamed Tropicana Field after the orange juice company bought the stadium's naming rights in 1998, would continue to fall, and the team fielded some of its worst teams in franchise history throughout the late 1990s and early to mid 2000s.

    Hope began to spring again for the team in 2005 with new ownership and minor improvements to aging Tropicana Field, but the team still felt it needed a new direction. Thus, prior to the 2008 season, the ownership announced it would be reverting to the old name "Tampa Bay Rays" (eschewing the cursed "Devil" moniker) and returning to the baby blue/navy blue color scheme the team utilized at the beginning of its history. The change appeared to work, as in 2008 the Rays would clinch the AL East and win their third AL Pennant. While the Phillies would enact their revenge against the Rays for their prior 1993 loss by winning the 2008 World Series 4 games to 1, there was a sense that the new-old Rays had been given a re-birth.

    While attendance at Tropicana Field remains inconsistent and ownership continues to look at options across the Tampa Bay area to replace Tropicana Field, the Rays have continued to succeed on the field, capturing their Seventh AL East title in 2010 and winning a thrilling "Game 162" to clinch their first AL Wild Card title in 2011.
    Last edited by PeteU; 06-21-2012, 07:39 AM.

  • #2
    Very clever. I love baseball-related alternate histories. The Rays' history from 1977-1997 is a bit too similar to that of the Blue Jays from that period in OTL (as was your intent, I assume) to be completely realistic, but still, good show.
    *** Submit your personal HOF as your ballot for the Single Ballot BBF Hall of Fame! *** Also: Buck the Fraves!

    Comment


    • #3
      I was hoping for a Tampa-Montreal World Series in 1994.
      The Mets have the best, smartest fans in baseball.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by DJC View Post
        Very clever. I love baseball-related alternate histories. The Rays' history from 1977-1997 is a bit too similar to that of the Blue Jays from that period in OTL (as was your intent, I assume) to be completely realistic, but still, good show.
        Yeah, I didn't have the time to go too crazy creating the Rays/Devil Rays history from 77-97, so I basically borrowed the Blue Jays history during those years. (In my alternate timeline, Toronto gets an expansion team in 1998, but that's neither here nor there). If I had more time, I would have given the alternate Rays their own history.

        I also used as inspiration the Seattle Mariners' playoff run in 1995, which was a key catalyst in getting approval for Safeco Field , for the means which the Suncoast Dome was built.

        I do believe back in the 1970s or 1980s before the Suncoast Dome discussions of using an expanded Al Lang Stadium as a temporary venue. It would be interesting to see how that would have been done.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Blue387 View Post
          I was hoping for a Tampa-Montreal World Series in 1994.
          That would have been cool.

          I remember back in October 1994 Sports Illustrated did a "what-if" for the cancelled World Series that featured a Red Sox-Cubs matchup, with the Cubs ultimately winning. (This of course was before the Curse of the Bambino was ended).

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by PeteU View Post
            Yeah, I didn't have the time to go too crazy creating the Rays/Devil Rays history from 77-97, so I basically borrowed the Blue Jays history during those years. (In my alternate timeline, Toronto gets an expansion team in 1998, but that's neither here nor there). If I had more time, I would have given the alternate Rays their own history.

            I also used as inspiration the Seattle Mariners' playoff run in 1995, which was a key catalyst in getting approval for Safeco Field , for the means which the Suncoast Dome was built.

            I do believe back in the 1970s or 1980s before the Suncoast Dome discussions of using an expanded Al Lang Stadium as a temporary venue. It would be interesting to see how that would have been done.
            Are Colorado and Florida still added in '93 and Arizona in '98 in your TL?
            *** Submit your personal HOF as your ballot for the Single Ballot BBF Hall of Fame! *** Also: Buck the Fraves!

            Comment


            • #7
              They're pretty ugly uniforms but I gotta admit they did a good job creating a uniform that looks like it would be from the 70's.
              "(Shoeless Joe Jackson's fall from grace is one of the real tragedies of baseball. I always thought he was more sinned against than sinning." -- Connie Mack

              "I have the ultimate respect for Whitesox fans. They were as miserable as the Cubs and Redsox fans ever were but always had the good decency to keep it to themselves. And when they finally won the World Series, they celebrated without annoying every other fan in the country."--Jim Caple, ESPN (Jan. 12, 2011)

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by DJC View Post
                Are Colorado and Florida still added in '93 and Arizona in '98 in your TL?
                Sure...wouldn't really change the narrative, except for the fact that the Marlins would be the second team in Florida and not the first.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by PeteU View Post
                  Sure...wouldn't really change the narrative, except for the fact that the Marlins would be the second team in Florida and not the first.
                  Ah, I see. If you're interested in alternate history, here is a short MLB TL I made.
                  *** Submit your personal HOF as your ballot for the Single Ballot BBF Hall of Fame! *** Also: Buck the Fraves!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by DJC View Post
                    Ah, I see. If you're interested in alternate history, here is a short MLB TL I made.
                    Pretty cool.

                    Although "Seattle Tsunamis" in honor of Japan just seems cruel, IMHO.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by PeteU View Post
                      Pretty cool.

                      Although "Seattle Tsunamis" in honor of Japan just seems cruel, IMHO.
                      I came up with the name well before that particular disaster, so I figure it's OK. That TL had been kicking around my computer for a few years before I posted it here.
                      *** Submit your personal HOF as your ballot for the Single Ballot BBF Hall of Fame! *** Also: Buck the Fraves!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Weren't there enough butt-ugly 70's uniforms already without concocting another one?
                        Attached Files
                        They call me Mr. Baseball. Not because of my love for the game; because of all the stitches in my head.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Here is my lengthy, yet fun idea of how the same story goes Pete. Let me know what you think:


                          Here is my version of the story. The Pilots move to Tampa to become the Tampa Bay Rays. They select the colors sky blue and yellow to represent the sunshine state. Since Tampa had just gone through its first full NFL Season, people already knew that neighboring Al Lopez park (spring training home of the Yankees at the time) would be a perfect spot for the new team. The abundance of parking and the central location for most Tamponians who didn’t live very far north of the stadium yet, made it the ideal location. Yet per major league pressure an agreement had to be made to build a new state of the art stadium for the new team. The location directly west and across the street (now home of the current Yankee spring training site) was picked to be the location. With the Florida heat, unpredictable rains, and failure of Houston’s outdoor stadium; a dome was the only real option.

                          Not too many domed stadiums were built in baseball yet, so the options were kind of limited at the time. Houston went with an all concrete roof with glass in it to allow light in was one option, The newly opened Olympic park with a concrete roof with retracting trash bag like texture was another more expensive and unproven option. Yet Tampa wanted to be cutting edge so they went with the first and only air pressured Teflon roof (used in Minn. But more importantly later used at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa). Upon completion of the new dome, Al Lopez was quickly torn down for parking. The new dome was a major success the first few years as people marveled at how they could be in a city with 90 degree heat but stay 75 degrees inside the dome. Others maintained the reason for such success seemed linked to Florida already being a baseball town for the youth, and even more said it was the lack of pro sports in Tampa that helped as well (an issue brought up about why hockey was so successful at first in Tampa). No matter the reason, the team flourished for the first years having plenty of fan support.

                          During the offseason of 1988 a unique issue happen, the roof ripped open. Major winds from a tropical depression hit Tampa hard and caused part of the Teflon to rip. It didn’t take up too much of the roof, but it was large enough to deflate the roof. After fear of a repeat situation the team was sold in 1989 to a group of investors looking to restore the magic in the once great city of Tampa whose team had come in last the past two years. Things looked great or the next few years, until a small snag happened in the year 1992.

                          The owner of the New York Yankees George Steinbrenner claims he is tired of not having a personalized state of the art stadium like the one in Kissimmee. Unbeknownst to New Tampa owners, there was an issue with how the Yankees were forced out of Al Lopez Park. Steinbrenner files a law suit saying his team was wrongly evicted from their spring training site and Tampa never sought the Yankee’s permission for tearing down Al Lopez Park. Since that time Steinbrenner claimed the team was treated like gypsies traveling from old outdated stadium to the next. It what was a landmark sports case, nicknamed finders vs. keepers, but in the end the Yankees were awarded their site back in Tampa. The only problem was the bucs and Rays were now using the area for parking and did not want to give up the land. What worked out was again a masterful case for the future of sports. The Rays ownership team had been working on some renderings on a new park in the downtown area, thinking it could spruce up the dilapidated downtown area and try out these new modern retractable roofs. So they were more than willing to give up their dome that they had called home for almost 15 years. In exchange the now flourishing economy city of Tampa would build a new stadium right on the water (where the current hockey arena is located). This lawsuit would pave the way for teams to get new stadiums from their cities i.e. pitts and philly. It also paved the way for teams like minn so to get out of their stadiums after only a few years of use.

                          Both teams got their wish the Yankees tore down the dome and built a mini me version of Yankee Stadium and called it Legends field, while the rays built a new retractable roof. The design was the first of its kind, a square airplane hangar looking building with a roof that split down the middle and moved left and right (Just like the diamondbacks stadium today). A loophole caused an issue with the current ownership though. Apparently the city made them pay for the demolition of their old dome and pay back the tax money of the bonds used for the stadium every year. This caused the ownership to be unable to pay their bills.

                          In 1996 owners then sell the team to Vince Namoli and friends who claim since the team is on the water it needs a more water type feel. Vince decides to change the name to the devil rays based on the sea animal native to Florida water to make it less cute and adorable then they’re tired 1970s rays’ name. The team colors are also changed to match the gorgeous sunsets in Florida to the Primary colors of Purple and black. Vince’s wife known to enjoy a drink or two has a martini driven idea one day while watching the sunset by their stadium. The rays then add a splash of a rainbow type of design to their uniforms because the sunsets don’t have just one color. The colors are a flop and Christian activist groups are in a roar with the use of such a demonic name. Jersey’s are burned in effigy and attendance plummets. Some say it is the unnatural look of the stadium that drove people away from the stadium. Some say it is because the roof is never open out of fear of skin cancer during the 90s. Others say it was the mistake of putting Astroturf in a stadium that has an open roof. Either way the ownership feels the crunch and sells off to a minority owner Stewart Sternberg who ends up having to spend millions to make the stadium tolerable by making the windows in the outfield open towards the water to give a slight breeze, putting in a better looking fake grass called field turf, and painting the roof a sky blue with clouds to appease fans even when the roof is closed. On the field the Rays are eventually given the old name again with a darker blue used to make it more modern. Something works and the team continues to start a winning streak for the next few years.

                          By the year 2012 the dome is a shear mystery. It’s not a fixed dome like some of the ones of the past, but it’s retracting time and the look itself isn’t as modern and sexy as Seattle or Milwaukee. The debate on whether they should have used real grass is always talked about it. The question of not having large enough suites for the owners to make a profit seems to come up as well. Then there is also the question about whether it needs open concourses so people can sit in line for the concession stands and have a direct line of site of the game like newer stadiums. No matter what the stadium has a winner on the field, an owner who seems to know what he is doing.

                          Quick Timeline:
                          1976 Team moves to Tampa changes name to Rays
                          1978 Finishes new domed stadium and tears down old stadium for parking
                          1992 Sued by Yankees for land so must give up dome
                          1994 New retractable roof dome is finished on downtown waterfront
                          1996 New owners take over and change name to Devil Rays
                          2005 New owners change name back to Rays and Renovates Stadium
                          2012 Team has throwback night and wears original jerseys
                          The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Chevy114 View Post
                            Here is my lengthy, yet fun idea of how the same story goes Pete. Let me know what you think:


                            Here is my version of the story. The Pilots move to Tampa to become the Tampa Bay Rays. They select the colors sky blue and yellow to represent the sunshine state. Since Tampa had just gone through its first full NFL Season, people already knew that neighboring Al Lopez park (spring training home of the Yankees at the time) would be a perfect spot for the new team. The abundance of parking and the central location for most Tamponians who didn’t live very far north of the stadium yet, made it the ideal location. Yet per major league pressure an agreement had to be made to build a new state of the art stadium for the new team. The location directly west and across the street (now home of the current Yankee spring training site) was picked to be the location. With the Florida heat, unpredictable rains, and failure of Houston’s outdoor stadium; a dome was the only real option.

                            Not too many domed stadiums were built in baseball yet, so the options were kind of limited at the time. Houston went with an all concrete roof with glass in it to allow light in was one option, The newly opened Olympic park with a concrete roof with retracting trash bag like texture was another more expensive and unproven option. Yet Tampa wanted to be cutting edge so they went with the first and only air pressured Teflon roof (used in Minn. But more importantly later used at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa). Upon completion of the new dome, Al Lopez was quickly torn down for parking. The new dome was a major success the first few years as people marveled at how they could be in a city with 90 degree heat but stay 75 degrees inside the dome. Others maintained the reason for such success seemed linked to Florida already being a baseball town for the youth, and even more said it was the lack of pro sports in Tampa that helped as well (an issue brought up about why hockey was so successful at first in Tampa). No matter the reason, the team flourished for the first years having plenty of fan support.

                            During the offseason of 1988 a unique issue happen, the roof ripped open. Major winds from a tropical depression hit Tampa hard and caused part of the Teflon to rip. It didn’t take up too much of the roof, but it was large enough to deflate the roof. After fear of a repeat situation the team was sold in 1989 to a group of investors looking to restore the magic in the once great city of Tampa whose team had come in last the past two years. Things looked great or the next few years, until a small snag happened in the year 1992.

                            The owner of the New York Yankees George Steinbrenner claims he is tired of not having a personalized state of the art stadium like the one in Kissimmee. Unbeknownst to New Tampa owners, there was an issue with how the Yankees were forced out of Al Lopez Park. Steinbrenner files a law suit saying his team was wrongly evicted from their spring training site and Tampa never sought the Yankee’s permission for tearing down Al Lopez Park. Since that time Steinbrenner claimed the team was treated like gypsies traveling from old outdated stadium to the next. It what was a landmark sports case, nicknamed finders vs. keepers, but in the end the Yankees were awarded their site back in Tampa. The only problem was the bucs and Rays were now using the area for parking and did not want to give up the land. What worked out was again a masterful case for the future of sports. The Rays ownership team had been working on some renderings on a new park in the downtown area, thinking it could spruce up the dilapidated downtown area and try out these new modern retractable roofs. So they were more than willing to give up their dome that they had called home for almost 15 years. In exchange the now flourishing economy city of Tampa would build a new stadium right on the water (where the current hockey arena is located). This lawsuit would pave the way for teams to get new stadiums from their cities i.e. pitts and philly. It also paved the way for teams like minn so to get out of their stadiums after only a few years of use.

                            Both teams got their wish the Yankees tore down the dome and built a mini me version of Yankee Stadium and called it Legends field, while the rays built a new retractable roof. The design was the first of its kind, a square airplane hangar looking building with a roof that split down the middle and moved left and right (Just like the diamondbacks stadium today). A loophole caused an issue with the current ownership though. Apparently the city made them pay for the demolition of their old dome and pay back the tax money of the bonds used for the stadium every year. This caused the ownership to be unable to pay their bills.

                            In 1996 owners then sell the team to Vince Namoli and friends who claim since the team is on the water it needs a more water type feel. Vince decides to change the name to the devil rays based on the sea animal native to Florida water to make it less cute and adorable then they’re tired 1970s rays’ name. The team colors are also changed to match the gorgeous sunsets in Florida to the Primary colors of Purple and black. Vince’s wife known to enjoy a drink or two has a martini driven idea one day while watching the sunset by their stadium. The rays then add a splash of a rainbow type of design to their uniforms because the sunsets don’t have just one color. The colors are a flop and Christian activist groups are in a roar with the use of such a demonic name. Jersey’s are burned in effigy and attendance plummets. Some say it is the unnatural look of the stadium that drove people away from the stadium. Some say it is because the roof is never open out of fear of skin cancer during the 90s. Others say it was the mistake of putting Astroturf in a stadium that has an open roof. Either way the ownership feels the crunch and sells off to a minority owner Stewart Sternberg who ends up having to spend millions to make the stadium tolerable by making the windows in the outfield open towards the water to give a slight breeze, putting in a better looking fake grass called field turf, and painting the roof a sky blue with clouds to appease fans even when the roof is closed. On the field the Rays are eventually given the old name again with a darker blue used to make it more modern. Something works and the team continues to start a winning streak for the next few years.

                            By the year 2012 the dome is a shear mystery. It’s not a fixed dome like some of the ones of the past, but it’s retracting time and the look itself isn’t as modern and sexy as Seattle or Milwaukee. The debate on whether they should have used real grass is always talked about it. The question of not having large enough suites for the owners to make a profit seems to come up as well. Then there is also the question about whether it needs open concourses so people can sit in line for the concession stands and have a direct line of site of the game like newer stadiums. No matter what the stadium has a winner on the field, an owner who seems to know what he is doing.

                            Quick Timeline:
                            1976 Team moves to Tampa changes name to Rays
                            1978 Finishes new domed stadium and tears down old stadium for parking
                            1992 Sued by Yankees for land so must give up dome
                            1994 New retractable roof dome is finished on downtown waterfront
                            1996 New owners take over and change name to Devil Rays
                            2005 New owners change name back to Rays and Renovates Stadium
                            2012 Team has throwback night and wears original jerseys
                            Pretty cool stuff. If I were to be a nitpicker, I'd point out that the Pilots moved from Seattle after 1969 but the Bucs didn't start play until 1976, and that the Yankees never trained at Al Lopez (they trained in Fort Lauderdale until 1995 before moving to Legends Field), but hey, it's an alternate universe and anything goes, so that would defeat the fun of it. I do feel a bit like Dr. Sam Beckett...."Oh boy!"

                            One question though....is a "Tamponian" a proper term, or a snide insult of sorts? For the benefit of the 335,709 residents of Tampa, I think I'd rather prefer the latter than the former.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I was wondering why the king dome was built in 76. I guess I meant the Blue Jays. Then my story might be more accurate. Also I could have sworn that the Yankees played there, well I guess just insert the proper team owner lol.
                              The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time.

                              Comment

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