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Investigation uncovers reasons for Devil Ray's failures

Marc Topkin, Damian Cristodero and Louis Hau of the St. Petersburg Times examines the ten-year history of Tampa Bay's major league baseball franchise, finding that the Devil Rays' lack of success can be attributed to a number of factors:

* Major League Baseball put the new owners in a financial hole before the team ever took the field, raising the expansion fee to an unprecedented $130-million and forcing them to forfeit millions in national TV revenue at a time when the overall costs of competing were soaring. The financial wherewithal of the Tampa Bay ownership group was immediately challenged, and has been a persistent concern.

* While the Rays stocked their inaugural roster with veteran players, they fielded too many rookies in key management positions. The owner, Naimoli, had never owned a sports team; the general manager, Chuck LaMar, had never been a general manager; the manager, Larry Rothschild, had never managed. Of the six department-leading vice presidents on the 1998 staff, only one had done his same job before.

The paper also conducted a poll among area baseball fans to gauge their support and concerns.

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