The days of that magical 2008 season are long gone.
So are most of the fans who remember it. Tropicana Field sits as a hollow reminder of Tampa's unpredicted run to the World Series, a silent dome haunted by the distant ringing of cowbells amid meaningful games.
Like their counterparts on the opposite Florida coast, the Tampa Bay Rays have entered a full rebuild mode. They enter the 2018 season as a big question mark. Can they replicate their 80-win season from a year ago mainly on the backs of young and energetic kids of considerable skill, or will they resort back to the 68 win-form of 2016?
However, though some of well-known offensive names have been shipped to other teams for strong prospect packages, the strength of the Rays has always been predicated by their pitching staff. While serious contention is a longshot in a division that seems to shape up as a two-team race between the Red Sox and Yankees, the Rays still have the pieces to be the one thing they've been consistent at for the past five years: American League East spoilers.