Essay: Hating the Rays

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays. I hate ‘em. All the while knowing that I shouldn’t.

I have to, though. Hate, I mean. It’s in my contract as a proud supporter of the Toronto Blue Jays. When the team you root for hasn’t qualified for the postseason in, oh, almost 20 years, eventually all you’re left with is hatred for those teams in the American League East that do play baseball in October. I hate the New York Yankees. The Boston Red Sox, too. I ignore the Baltimore Orioles, bless their hearts. I used to be able to say the same about the Rays. I miss those days.

I didn’t think it was possible, but, after reading Jonah Keri’s The Extra 2%, my dislike for the Rays has actually increased. And that’s not to say Mr. Keri’s book wasn’t a great one. It was. I found it, most of all, readable; the type of book you start and finish on a four and a half-hour cross-country flight. I mean, from Tampa’s struggle to finally land a team, to all that losing, to the vision displayed in going against the grain in assembling an unconventional front office, which led to the exorcising of so many demons, and, finally, to their rise from worst to first. What’s not to love? And I didn’t even mention Joe Maddon. The unparalleled Joe Maddon, with his glasses, his love of vino, and, of course, “The Danks Theory,” which he repeatedly put to good use against Toronto, when Shaun Marcum was still a Blue Jay.

I’ve found plenty not to like, though. Ben Zobrist, to start with. I should appreciate the likes of Zobrist, a nomad on the diamond, who’s enjoying a 2009-like renaissance at the plate. But I can’t. And, no, I can’t explain why. Hatred is illogical; there’s no rhyme or reason. Then there’s David Price, and his 8-0 record and 1.99 ERA in nine career starts against Toronto. The Blue Jays bore David Price.

After much introspection, I’ve figured it out: I hate the Rays because they’ve become everything the Blue Jays haven’t. I like to think of myself as being self-aware, so I have to admit it: I’m jealous. The Rays have conquered baseball’s toughest division in a market much smaller than Toronto’s, with far fewer resources, in an even more inferior domed ballpark.

That’s why they’ll always be the Devil Rays to me.

Image courtesy Victoria Lucas.

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Navin Vaswani is a replacement-level writer. Follow him on Twitter.

24 Responses to “Essay: Hating the Rays”

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  1. Cody says:

    As a Rays fan, I understand and accept your hate. I wish you the best my Blue Jay friend.

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    • glassSheets says:

      That’s exactly the type of demeanor that makes everyone hate your team, and probably you personally.

      I’ve heard of bad Yankee and Red Sox fans, but seriously these Devil Ray fans are bringing it to a new low in baseball fandom.

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    • Stay classy, Cody. And I mean that.

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  2. Meredith says:

    Cody seems nice.

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  3. Leo Martin says:

    I hate the Rays too. Their name and uniforms are lame. They have few fans. Their park, particularly the playing surface, is an absolute crime against baseball.

    Sure, they have a core of great young players. But they got there by fielding a AAA team for close to a decade and just racking up top picks. Not that impressive from where I’m sitting. I guess I’m missing something.

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    • Mark says:

      You’re probably missing the fact that most of their top picks either flamed out or aren’t with the Rays, and that the reason they’re such a good team is because of clever FA signings, smart trades that nobody notices until years later, and good drafting in the later rounds.

      If all they needed was top picks, the Pirates would have been in first place a decade ago.

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  4. williams .482 says:

    “I hate the Rays because they’ve become everything the Blue Jays haven’t.”

    This seems much more logical to me than, for example, “I hate them because they are the &$#&%$ Yankees”, which seems to be the norm here in Mass.

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  5. Theo says:

    As a fellow Jays fan, I thank you for placing my exact thoughts into a form that other people can read and understand.

    As a human being, however, I am concerned about the precision with which you read my mind. I am forced to assume you are some manner of Jedi, and have been forced to re-evaluate my opinion of you accordingly.

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  6. Friedman says:

    The team plays in St. Petersburg, not Tampa. Maybe that means you will like them better, huh?

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  7. mett says:

    One reason to rationally hate the Rays is because they’re run by a bunch of bankers. Freidman, Sternberg et al used to work at Goldman Sachs, Bears Stearns, and other places that looted the economy as Investment Bankers. Everyone pretty much uniformly hates Investment Bankers. QED.

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    • For some reason, your comment reminded me of the Seinfeld episode where Newman uses Kramer to try and get out of his speeding ticket.

      Kramer: I was never able to become a banker.

      [Newman has a revelation.]

      Newman: Banker! So you’re killing yourself because your dreams of becoming a banker have gone unfulfilled. You-you-you-you can’t live without being a banker.

      Kramer: Yeah, yeah. If I can’t be banker, I don’t wanna live.

      Newman: You must be banker.

      Kramer: MUST be banker.

      Newman (satisfied): Okay, we’ll go with the banker story.

      Damn bankers.

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  8. adohaj says:

    I also hate the rays. GO YANKEES

    …and I don’t even like the yankees

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  9. William says:

    I haven’t really hated a team since the championship Blue Jays team, and that was mostly due to their broadcasters at the time. Tommy Hutton [shiver]. Now I kind of root for them because of some certain Toronto writer. Funny that.

    The Bay Rays have been on top for two of the last three years and you always want to knock off that top spot. I was so happy the Angels finally got pushed out of the west last year. Change is great. Nobody likes the smartest kid in the class.

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  10. Greg W says:

    I hate them too. I am a Jays fan, and we’ve always had to watch our team lose to the Rays. That AAA team they fielded, yeah, the Jays couldn’t beat them either. Honestly, its always been a struggle for the Jays to look respectable. They have Shoppach, Jaso, Brigniac, Sean Rodriguez all hitting about .210, and have given 78 at bats to Dan Johnson, who is hitting .115.

    The Jays have Juan Rivera, Aaron Hill, and Edwin Encarnacion as their worst players, head to head, better than Tampa’s worst. Corey Patterson is still playing over his head. Our catcher is a rookie with as many home runs as any other catcher in baseball. Also, Jose Bautista. They somehow still win more games that the Jays.

    The Rays won their first division title by outperforming their pythagorean record for a whole season. The season is supposed to be so long that you CAN’T do that.

    I’d like my team to do the impossible once. You know, like back in ’07 and ’08 when they had some of the best pitching and defense in baseball, and still finished 4th, because they couldn’t score any runs.

    I am I distorting all of this? Yes. Why? Because disappointment is a horrible thing.

    But there’s always next year.

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  11. The Gyroballer says:

    I hate the Rays because I have to watch the Red Sox play 10 games at Tropicana Field every year.

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  12. Rays is only a single letter off from Jays though. I am forced to conclude the Rays are your long lost brother, the one who shows up naked on your doorstep on the fourth day of Chanukah, which you don’t celebrate, but ruins the whole thing for you anyway by being incredibly needy and smelling of fecal matter.

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