Jun 6, 2022 - Sports

Rays' advocacy efforts get mixed reviews

Illustration of a baseball being thrown through a newspaper.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

The Tampa Bay Rays have been striking out in the headlines.

Driving the news: After the controversies sparked by the team speaking out against gun violence last week, its LGBTQ Pride night drew attention to players who chose not to wear rainbow attire.

Details: Most of the team on Saturday wore rainbow-themed caps and jerseys, but several players, including pitchers Jason Adam, Jalen Beeks, Brooks Raley, Jeffrey Springs and Ryan Thompson, wore standard Rays caps and peeled rainbow-colored logos off their jerseys, per Tampa Bay Times Rays reporter Marc Topkin.

  • ​​Adam told the Times that not wearing the gear was a "faith-based decision" and that players didn't want to encourage the "lifestyle" of those in the LGBTQ+ community.

What they're saying: OutSports' Cyd Zeigler wrote that "Rays management should be ashamed of the disaster they created."

  • Paul D. Sanders, co-founder of LGBTQ Sports Fan Groups on Facebook and moderator of the Rays' LGBTQ fan group, G-Rays, said the move was a "huge setback" for the team.
  • "The Rays dropped the ball big time," Sanders told Axios. "By allowing five players — including two who had a hand in [Saturday's] loss — to hijack the night … It's another signal that you're tolerated but not fully welcomed."

Catch up fast: During a May 26 game against the New York Yankees, both teams tweeted out gun violence facts and statistics instead of game stats. The Rays later announced a $50,000 donation to gun violence prevention group Everytown for Gun Safety.

Clapback: Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed $35 million in funding Friday for a potential Tampa Bay Rays spring training complex in Pasco County as part of a $3.1 billion cut from the state's next budget.

  • Afterward, he told the Times he would have done so anyway, but that, just as he said about Disney, private companies shouldn't get government funding to promote political views.

Creative Loafing also took a dig at the Rays donation, reporting that the team has given a comparative $180,000 to Florida Republicans who are about to make Florida a constitutional carry state at DeSantis's request.


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