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Rays City Connect Uniforms Ranked Greatest Achievement in Franchise History





The Tampa Bay Rays are among the nine Major League Baseball (MLB) teams releasing new City Connect uniforms in 2024, and they’re already so popular that they’re being hailed as the greatest accomplishment in the history of the 26-year-old team.

“Sure, making the postseason all the time now and winning two American League pennants is pretty great but have you seen these things? They’re the best thing they’ve ever done, no contest,” said longtime Tampa Bay sports columnist who doesn’t work for anybody anymore but still somehow gets press box access, Larry Chandleton. “Personally, I don’t get it but everybody loves them so I guess I’m on board too.”

MLB City Connect is a leaguewide initiative, beginning in 2021, that aims to highlight the cultural aspects of each MLB team’s home city through alternate uniforms that may or may not feature colors and identity elements not normally expressed in a team’s regular uniforms. 

For a franchise that has historically not only made missteps in several areas but been derisively mocked just for trying innovative new things, the spectacular popularity of these uniforms has been a surprise. Especially with the efforts of many older, established teams being criticized for being uninspired, boring and just plain ugly.

“Pgh!” is about right

The Rays opted to depart from their traditional blue color scheme and go back to the purple and fluorescent green gradients that highlighted their original uniforms dating back to 1998 when the team was known as the Devil Rays. They also eschewed traditional Tampa Bay tropes like beaches, palm trees and pirates, opting instead for a dark and gritty tribute to the area’s skateboard culture history as a motif. 

Typically, unorthodox developments in Tampa Bay sports have not been greeted enthusiastically.

”Remember when Mike Veeck was here and he launched his ‘Off The Wall’ marketing campaign, where the premise was simply that baseball is supposed to be fun? Well, me and some other writers didn’t like that so we shot the concept down without trying to consider it, embrace it or even understand it,” said Chandleton. “That was a golden era in Tampa Bay sports journalism, when you could just openly shit on someone trying to solve an issue creatively.”

“I can tell you without hesitation that if they had tried to pull a stunt like this back when me and Tom McEwen were alive, err, I mean, relevant, it wouldn’t have happened,” he said. “Same goes for analytics, whatever that even is.”

“Even people in New York are saying they like these crazy things,” he added. “And as a traditional media personality who once held considerable influence here in Tampa Bay but hasn’t mattered in a very long time, nothing is more important to me than the approval of New Yorkers.”

Clark Brooks

About Clark Brooks

Senior Supreme Executive Premium Content Editor for Tampa News Force. Comedian, writer and ordained minister. ClarkBrooks.com. Twitter: @ClarkBrooks | Instagram:@ClarkBrooks54

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