Advertisement
  1. Rays

20 years of Rays and ‘the things we’ve loved’ about them

20/20 Vision: Looking back at 20 years of the Rays and 20 things we've loved about them
Tropicana Field lit up after the Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Boston Red Sox in game two of the American League Championship at Tropicana Field. The photo was taken around 3:14 a.m. [Times files (2008)]
Tropicana Field lit up after the Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Boston Red Sox in game two of the American League Championship at Tropicana Field. The photo was taken around 3:14 a.m. [Times files (2008)]
Published Mar. 24, 2018
Updated Mar. 25, 2018

With the Rays planning a year-long celebration of their 20th anniversary, the Times is taking a look back – with 20 lists of 20 things about those first 20 seasons.

Check out the rest of Marc Topkin's coverage here, on:
20 words on the 20th anniversary
20 numbers to remember
The 20 weirdest moments
Tampa Bay's 20 'Forrest Gump moments'
20 years of Rays and 'the things we've loved' about them
Greatest moments in franchise history
Best signings, trades and deals
20 players who surprisingly finished with them
20 players you forgot ever played for them
20 most notable draft picks
20 Things we've hated over the years
The 20 best players
The 20 best quotes
Recounting the 20 most memorable injuries
The 20 worst players
Ranking every season
Here are the 20 things we've loved about the Rays:

• Don Zimmer being involved, every single day that he was.

• 9 = 8

• RayHawk haircuts — on players, team officials, fans.

• The occasional intensity of the rivalry with the Red Sox, given the long list of brawls and other issues between the teams, which they don't have elsewhere.

• Lighting the Trop roof orange after wins, having the touch tank and the now-closed cigar bar.

• Post-game concerts that drew big crowds.

• That there's only been 20 seasons so we have been able to see them all.

• Taking on the challenge of battling the better financed beasts of the east.

• The "starters jump" at the mound to celebrate a complete game.

• Listening to Lou Piniella and Joe Maddon answer pretty much any question.

• Watching the ease of how Evan Longoria charged in to make a play on a bunt.

• Watching Kevin Kiermaier's grace as he runs down fly balls no one else can get.

• Watching the intensity James Shields and Alex Cobb had on the mound.

• Seeing Chris Archer's passion for the game.

• Learning something any time we hear TV analyst Brian Anderson talk.

• How willing they are to try creative and innovative methods to make up ground, and how much of what they've done (shifting, platooning, extending young players).

• The first-and-third bunt play, when it's done right.

• Seeing Fernando Rodney shoot the arrow (and wear his hat askew), and Rafael Soriano untuck his shirt right after the final out.

• Knowing the huge role in franchise history some otherwise fringe players have played (Dan Johnson, Elliot Johnson, Jonny Gomes).

• That they — for now — play at the Trop, under a roof, making the weather on bad days a non-factor.

Contact Marc Topkin at mtopkin@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Rays