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Rays say new look passing expectations
By EDUARDO A. ENCINA, Times Staff Writer
Published November 10, 2007
[Edmund D. Fountain | Times]
ampa Bay Rays designated hitter Jonny Gomes rips off a new Rays t-shirt to reveal his new uniform during a fashion show organized to unveil the new uniforms at Straub Park in St. Petersburg
TAMPA - Inside the Rays' downtown Tampa team store, there was no sign of the old look. Even a life-sized photo of outfielder Carl Crawford running the bases in Devil Rays duds was reduced to a silhouette.
A day after the Rays officially unveiled their new name, logo and uniforms - and hoped to turn the page on a decade of losses - the team reported Friday that the new look was a hit at the cash register and, most important, in exposure.
On Thursday, an estimated 7,000 came to St. Petersburg's Straub Park for the uniform unveiling. And on Friday, a lunch-time picnic at Tampa's Gaslight Park drew fans downtown and placed them at the steps of the team store, where fans could purchase new jerseys, T-shirts, caps, women's and children's clothes and even Christmas ornaments. All 18 area Champs Sports stores also sold new merchandise and hosted player appearances, one of which drew about 700 fans at International Plaza.
"Success is based upon visibility and participation," team president Matt Silverman said. "Given the crowd in St. Petersburg and the crowd today, we've exceed all of our expectations."
While Rays senior vice president and chief sales officer Mark Fernandez said he wouldn't put a dollar figure on the first day of sales, he said sales at the Tampa store doubled their projections.
"Until they were able to see the uniform in person, there was mixed reaction, but it's turned positive now that they're out in the public," Silverman said. "I figured our most critical audience would be the players, and their positive reaction has been great for the organization. They have to wear it every single day and it's more personal to them. They've really embraced the traditional look."
PENA HONORS CONTINUE: Rays first baseman Carlos Pena became the first player in club history to win the Silver Slugger award, given to the top offensive player at each position in each league. Pena, who batted .282 and reached franchise bests with 46 homers and 121 RBIs, was one of seven first-time winners of the award, which has been awarded annually since 1980. The other first-timers are: Tigers second baseman Placido Polanco in the AL and Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins, Mets third baseman David Wright, Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder, Diamondbacks pitcher Micah Owings, Dodgers catcher Russell Martin in the NL. Alex Rodriguez won his ninth Silver Slugger.
Cubs sale process slows
ORLANDO - It doesn't look as if the Cubs will be sold before the 2008 season begins. Since it was announced in April that Tribune Company was being sold, it was believed that incoming chairman Sam Zell would spin off Wrigley Field and the team in the final quarter of 2007. But the Chicago Tribune reported that commissioner Bud Selig has not been able to keep the process moving fast enough, ruling out a sale before the end of the year and making one before training camp in the spring unlikely.
Giants: Omar Vizquel agreed to a one-year, $5.3-million deal that includes a club option that could make it worth $10.2-million over two seasons.