This is the Tampa Rays’ 10th year in baseball; and how time flies when you’re not having fun. During their tenure they have sunk to last place in their division eight out of nine years. In the current day bizarro American League division, the Rays are in first place and have the second-best record in all of baseball.
Why am I writing about this? What does this have to do with the price of vintage tees in China? Monitoring current trends is a key to success in the vintage t-shirt market, or any market for that matter. When the Red Sox are doing well, the value of their vintage merchandise skyrockets faster than a David Ortiz clutch home run. Fans of all sports love to go throwback, especially in the midst of a great season.
But as far as Rays fans go, their throwback shirts are hanging way below the Mendoza clothes line. Most of them are going unsold, even when the opening bid is only $6. In 2007 the Tampa Devil Rays exorcised the “Devil” from their name. Die hard fans usually appreciate the novelty of name and logo changes making the various incarnations of previous branding a hot commodity. Not in Tampa where despite the team’s first breakthrough season, fans could care less about their inaugural t-shirts.
Do the fans here suck? Probably. But do you blame them? Try putting yourself in their cleats for a moment. Rays fans are a nine year by-product of the worst team in baseball. Team loyalty aside, would you want to wear their merchandise? The branding has always looked more like a theme park ride than a team. Worse yet, purple was a mainstay in their palette. The only person who can pull off purple is Grimace, and he’s not even a person.
So what’s the solution? Well, more than just a winning season is needed before Rays gear ever becomes throwback cool. Add at least five more competitive seasons, at least one World Series berth and a boat load of resuscitated fans. Then wait for that rare moment in fashion when purple is all the rage. Good luck.