Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Ray of Hope: The Devil Speaks Out

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays finished in last place in the Al East in 2007. In 2008 the Tampa Bay Rays finished first in the AL East and made it to the World Series for the first time. Was it the development of the club’s young starters? The emergence of Rookie of the Year candidate Evan Longoria? The wisdom of the wily veteran Cliff Floyd? Nope—it’s because the franchise’s deal with The Devil was finally over after a decade. Without “Devil” in their name (and the dark prince of all that is unholy messing up the works) Tampa Bay finally has a winner. To get more on this story, we tracked down The Devil at his vacation home in the Caribbean, where he was creating hurricanes to destroy lives in North America. 

Zisk: So what do I call you? Satan? Beelzebub? Your holy darkness? 

The Devil: You can call me Ron—but just don't call me late to dinner like my last wife, Anna Nicole Smith! Whoa, I thought things would be great when I brought her down to my pad, but she would not shut up! She was the eighth wife in a row I had to burn to a crisp. 

Zisk: Um, okay Ron. So as I understand it, you originally made a deal with former Rays owner Vince Naimoli that you would make Major League Baseball give him an expansion franchise. And part of that deal was you getting a piece of the name? 

The Devil: Well, the deal for the devil name was only for 10 years because I wasn’t sure how being associated with the game would impact my public image. I mean, this was right after the strike of 1994, and baseball’s public image wasn’t much better than mine. (Laughs evilly) So I said we’d do a deal for a 10-year period only, and that we would revisit it during the 2007 season. 

Zisk: Legend has it that when you make a deal for a soul, people usually get something great at first and then it comes back to bite them in the end. It seems to me with the Devil Rays that nothing good ever happened. 

The Devil: Well, Naimoli said he wanted a competitive team quickly, and he got one. They did compete in games. That didn’t mean they would actually win any of those games. You humans are always suckers. Well, except for that Daniel Webster guy. That case still chaps my ass. 

Zisk: I guess it’s easy to hold grudges when you’re immortal. So now that the deal with the team expired when Naimoli sold and the new ownership group removed your name from the team, do you have any regrets about causing all that misery? I mean, people did notice the team started playing better when your name was taken off the uniforms. 

The Devil: Nah, I don’t have any regrets. That deal got me great seats to see the Red Sox and the Yankees. Being the lord of all that is unholy doesn’t get you great seats at Fenway without at least a grand to back it up.

Zisk: One last question while I have you on the phone—who did the worse job portraying you on the big screen—Al Pacino or Elizabeth Hurley

The Devil: Oh, Pacino, that’s for certain. The day we signed that deal so he could be in The Godfather he said to me, “I like your style. I’m going to remember that if I ever play you in a movie.” He got my hair all wrong.

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