It's not that I'm a particular fan of Tampa's baseball team--I couldn't have named a single starter for their team back on April 1 when I predicted a World Series appearance this year, after all--but I do like the name they took upon their inception. I don't know if a Devil Ray is actually bad ass, but it sure sounds like it is.
But you just know that some people are going to correlate the Devil Rays' success this year with their decision to drop the first half of that name. It won't be that the young pitching did better than expected, or that the lineup hit for more power, or that they were successfully aggressive on the base paths, or that Joe Maddon gave a young team a steadying hand down the stretch. No, for some people, the Devil Rays will have enjoyed their success (especially if they win the Series) because they dumped the word "devil" from their name.
Which is why I was nervous about clicking on this article. It started out just as I feared, complete with a quote from a former athlete turned minister:
"I told my wife before the season started, 'Whoever is in that organization made, to me, a very interesting decision,'" said Les Steckel, a former NFL coach and head of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, an evangelical ministry. "Six months later, look what happens."Factor in that the story was written by the religion writer for the AP, and I just knew it was going to be more of the same.
I was wrong.
It's actually an entertaining piece that talks about the varying levels of success that pro and college teams with Devil in their names have enjoyed over the last couple of decades. My favorite example is the New Jersey Devils, whose jerseys have a red tail in the logo and who have won the Stanley Cup three times.
The last part of the article talks about superstitious fans and their odd behaviors, and let me tell you, there are books that could be written on that. Sports fans are the oddest bunch in the world when it comes to imagining that their behaviors, whether at the game or at home or in a sports bar can affect what's happening on the field. They make live-action gamers seem, well, cool.