Three of the last four perfect games thrown in the American League have come at the expense of the Tampa Bay Rays. The White Sox’ own Mark Buehrle started this trend, Dallas Braden of Oakland kept it going, and most recently King Felix Hernandez completed the trifecta by perfecting the Rays in Safeco Field.
In a time not so long ago, throwing a perfect game against Tampa would be akin to throwing a perfect game against, say, the Houston Astros. An accomplishment for sure, but not terribly surprising an opponent to have bested. This isn’t that time though. The Rays are consistently in the playoff hunt and regularly outlast either the Red Sox or Yankees in a tough AL East which pundits erroneously claim is owned by the two rivals. So why the Rays?
I’ll tell you why: a deal with the devil. In 2007 the Tampa Bay Devil Rays completed their 10th season, the 9th in which they finished last (they finished 4th once). A makeover timed with appearance of some additional young talent occurred in the off-season and with that came the exorcising of “Devil” from the Tampa name. A marketing ploy they’ll tell you, but here’s what really happened:
The Tampa brass was approached by Satan himself, likely in person but under the guise of an existing person. For the sake of visualization, let’s say it’s Scott Boras. Boras Satan walked right up to Tampa’s General Manager Andrew Friedman and laid it out.
“You want to be good? You want a team that can win?” he asked not without taunting.
“Of course, Scott (Satan), you know that, you know I want nothing more.” Andrew replied desperately.
A few short minutes later a handshake occurred and the deal was complete. Friedman knew he now had a winner on his hands, but he was filled with regret. He had just made a deal with the devil, there would be no turning back. In an act of defiance he plead with the organization to remove the “Devil” from the Rays name. “All in the name of marketing” he claimed, knowing both that this would help satisfy his conscience and also make him look like a genius. They bought it, and the new image was put into place. The Tampa Bay Rays would take the field in 2008, they would field a competitor, and they would get perfect games thrown at them repeatedly for the rest of history.
It should also be noted that the WPA by Felix Hernandez in his perfect game against the Rays: .666
Why do the Rays get no-hit all the time? Satan*.