ST. PETERSBURG — Fuzzy thinking by furry mascot Raymond led the Rays to issue an apology Thursday for a "lapse in judgment."
The mascot was photographed during Wednesday's game against the Orioles holding a sign the team called inappropriate and others labeled insensitive: a "Rays to-do" list that had "1. Steve Irwin" crossed off, with a World Series berth next.
Irwin was an internationally famous Australian outdoorsman and wildlife expert who was killed in September 2006 when attacked by a stingray.
After the photo was posted on Twitter and picked up by the website Deadspin, it received considerable play across the Internet, and the team checked into the situation and determined that the sign was made by a fan and that the mascot's mistake was taking it and posing for photos, leading to the statement of apology.
From the team:
"Last night Rays mascot Raymond was handed an inappropriate sign brought to the game by a fan. Fans are welcome to bring signs into Tropicana Field provided they are not offensive. The Tampa Bay Rays regret that this particular sign was displayed in the ballpark, and we apologize for the lapse in judgment."
That meshes with an explanation posted later on Deadspin said to be from the fan, who claimed to hand over the sign and that Raymond "obviously thought it was funny because he stood up on the chairs and held it up for literally 3 seconds, obviously realizing what he was doing or when he saw the reaction from some of the fans, and got down and tried to hand it back. That's when I started snappin off photos."
The Rays said any further disciplinary action would be handled internally.