Here is the thing that bugs me...
According to this Washington Post via the Chicago Tribune news report, Rays president Matt Silverman, upon being asked who would throw out the ceremonial first pitch before their first playoff game ever, said,
I'm sorry, WHAT??!
Okay, so the Rays (formerly Devil Rays) have not had much of what you could say, a winning tradition. I mean, when your team has lost more than a hundred games three times in its brief history, and have had a cumulative record of 645-972 before 2008, it's understandable. But to say that "nobody in the history of the franchise has done anything to be worthy of the honor," is insulting to the number of players who have worn the jersey of your franchise, even before the name change.
I mean, they've got a number of "worthy candidates" including:
- Wade Boggs, who not only is a Tampa area native, but finished his career with the team and got his 3000th hit with the Rays (a home run to boot). The Rays even retired his uniform number 12. Oh, did I mention he's also a Hall of Famer???
- Fred McGriff, also an area native, hit 99 home runs in his years in Tampa, and is among the team leaders in almost EVERY batting statistical category, and still is the leader a good number of them.
- Roberto Hernandez, the closer for the first three years of DRay history. He recorded 101 saves for the team over his three years in Florida, which contributed to more than half of the Devil Rays victories in their first three years of existence.
- Rolando Arrojo, the team's first All-Star. named to the team in 1998. He finished the first year with a 14-12 record and a 3.56 ERA, being the team leader in both wins and ERA.
- Tony Saunders...okay, so he only lasted two seasons, but he was the first player chosen in the Expansion Draft!!!
- Greg Blosser, the first player with MLB experience to sign with the team.
- Mike Kelly, the first MLB player traded TO the Devil Rays (via Cincinnati).
- Ryan Rupe, the first DRay draft pick (6th round, 1998) to debut with the Rays.
- If you want to go even further back in time, find out what Paul Wilder is doing, he was the first DRays pick in the amateur draft in 1996. Or get Adam Sisk, the first player ever signed to the franchise, all the way back in 1995!!!
There are so many people to pick in the brief history of the Rays that are worthy of throwing the first pitch. And on the short list of celebrities? Dick Vitale and General David Petreaus. I can't wait to see who they pick.