Enjoy a luxury suite at the next Tampa Bay Rays game at Tropicana Field
The Sunshine State of Florida is home to the AL East’s Tampa Bay Rays. Approved as an MLB expansion team for the 1998 season, the Rays struggled mightily in the early years of their existence, rarely moving out of the last place spot in their division.
They were able to capture their first divisional championship in 2008, eventually earning their first AL pennant while advancing to the World Series where they lost to the Philadelphia Phillies in five games. A disappointing end to a great playoff run, the team just had no gas left in the tank after an incredible American League Championship Series against the Boston Red Sox which went seven games. More playoff appearances would follow in 2010, 2011, and 2013 but the Rays have never made it back to the Fall Classic.
Advancing to the postseason will never be easy for Tampa as they play in the famous AL East alongside tough opponents such as the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. Last season’s record of 80-82 was an improvement for the club, but not enough for them to make it to the postseason. Sitting at number three in the division, the Rays are looking to get even more out of their players this year to make the playoff leap.
The Tampa Bay Rays have, historically, had a tendency to grow their talent through the draft and farm system. However, in today’s MLB you need a small boost in addition to this philosophy if you expect to make an impact. The Rays may finally be accepting this as they made a few moves in the offseason with the hopes of improving their club. Free agent catcher Wilson Ramos signed on with the Rays last season but he was out of commission for some time with a torn ACL. Back behind the plate and finally healthy, Ramos is a solid addition to the lineup. Also healthy is Matt Duffy, who finally was able to start for the team in 2018. Joey Wendle was traded from the Oakland A’s in the offseason and finds himself as the starter at second base. Adeiny Hechavarria was traded mid-season last year and has been solid at shortstop as Brad Miller retains his spot at first.
Other newcomers include outfielders Denard Span, Carlos Gomez, and DH CJ Cron. Third year player Mallex Smith is excited to start in center field. Chris Archer, Blake Snell, and Jake Faria lead the charge from the pitcher’s mound while Alex Colome mops up in relief.
While the off-season trade of Evan Longoria, the team’s longtime third baseman, still stings with the fans, there is reason to believe that this move may prove to be fruitful for the club at Tropicana Field. Between the cash and group of players that they received in exchange for the fan favorite, Tampa may have helped set themselves up for the future. Time will tell how lucrative the deal turns out to be, but there is no doubt that management is committed to making tough decisions if they think it will better their ball club.
While the history of this team has not yet run into its third decade of existence, there have been a number of important players to lace up their cleats for this organization. Among the most favored by the Tampa faithful are Evan Longoria, David Price, Ben Zobrist, Carl Crawford, and James Shields. Click here to learn more about the Tampa Bay Rays franchise.