History of the Tampa Bay Rays
In 2008, the Tampa Bay Rays, after 10 years in major league baseball, won the American League pennant, under the leadership of their manager, Joe Maddon. The Rays managed to go from a 66-96 win-loss record in 2007 to a 97-65 record in 2008 and the team that had consistently been at the bottom of its division was playing in the World Series. They have continued their winning ways, earning the American League East division title in 2010 and the AL Wild Card in 2011.
The Tampa Bay Devil Rays became a major league franchise team in 1995 and they began playing in the majors on March 31, 1998. Included in their roster was future Hall of Famer Wade Boggs. But even with Boggs, the Rays ended the season with 99 losses.
The next year, Jose Canseco was added to the line-up. The Rays again had a losing season and Boggs retired after the season ended. The Rays continued losing despite changes in managers and players.
In 2003, Lou Piniella was hired as manager of the Rays, but even he could not turn the Rays into a winning team. They did, however, improve and at the end of the 2004 season, their record was 70-91 and they were in fourth place in the American League East instead of in last place.
With a record of 67-95 in 2005 and the second worst ERA in the American League, Piniella asked to be released from his contract. Joe Maddon was hired as the new manager and young players, including Jorge Cantu, Scott Kazmir and B.J. Upton, were added to the roster. The changes didn't help and the Rays ended the 2006 season with the worst record, 61-101, in major league baseball that year. The same fate awaited the Rays the next year.
Determined to change the Rays' fortunes in 2008, the team's major owner, Stuart Sternberg, began by dropping the "Devil" from the team's original name. A few roster changes were made, including adding third baseman Evan Longoria to the line-up. The new name and Longoria seemed to be the magic the Tampa Bay Rays needed. They ended the 2008 season in first place in the American League East with a record of 97-65. They went on to defeat the Chicago White Sox in the American League division playoffs and then the Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship series. They then faced the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series, but the Rays were no match for the National League team with its strong pitching and starting line-up.