Major League Baseball has a long history, one which dates back almost 150 years. In tribute to that history, teams have occasionally worn throwback uniforms from their own storied pasts. For example, the 2012 Houston Astros can be seen below, wearing the team’s amazing original Colt .45s uniform from 1962 in commemoration of their fiftieth anniversary.
It’s a great tradition, even if it’s also yet another way for teams to sell overpriced merchandise. But what is a lowly expansion team, one with just fifteen years of history, to do? Apparently, for the Tampa Bay Rays, the answer was not “wait until we have some real history”. Instead, the team opted to create a godawful fake throwback uniform. Here’s manager Joe Maddon “modeling”:
In previous Turn Back The Clock games, Tampa Bay wore uniforms from other Florida teams of the past, like the Tampa Tarpons or St. Pete Pelicans. They’ve even brought back the original 1998 Tampa Bay Devil Rays uniform:
You deserved better, Mr. Boggs.
Ugly though that was, at least it was authentic. The fauxback seen above, however, is entirely a work of fiction. The organization stated that the uniforms were designed to look like what the team would have worn in 1979, and that they were inspired by the late 70s Padres uniform:
So very 70s
It seems that “inspired by” is a euphemism for “blatantly ripped off from”, which means that in addition to being phony, the Rays’ fashion fiasco isn’t even original. Perhaps the only custom touch is the design in the center of the “a” (as well as the “b” on the hat), which appears to be a reference to the roof of Tropicana Field, the Rays home park.
Tropicana Field from above; Inset: The counterfeit Rays logo
[Photo credit: USRaven]
That would be a nice touch, but for the fact that the Trop is one of the worst stadiums in the bigs. Construction on it started way back in 1986, before St. Petersburg even had a team, and it ultimately didn’t attract a Major League team until the Rays started playing there in 1998. Its fixed dome is ringed by four catwalks which can be hit by batted balls, resulting in some truly bizarre ground rules. The attempt to do something creative is respectable, but reminding folks that you play baseball in a venue that can best be described as a poorly-lit Sam’s Club is probably not the way to go.
In the end though, there is some good news, as karma may just be real. While wearing their phony throwbacks on Saturday night, the Rays were handed a 6-2 loss by the Detroit Tigers.