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 email@example.com. Follow @TBTimes_Rays