Attention: The Tampa Bay Rays Own The Heavens

Let it be known henceforth that if you produce a t-shirt with a starburst on it, the Tampa Bay Rays will hunt you down and sue you until you bleed from various orifices. Does the image on the right — which Tampa resident Billy Castro claims is his company logo — closely resemble the image on the left, which is the tiny starburst in the “Rays” logo? Well yes, it kind of does.

And that’s why the Rays and MLB have waged a two-year campaign to sue Castro for copyright infringement, noting that the Rays fan had a duffle bag with 10 or so t-shirts outside of Tropicana Field last year before Tampa Bay’s first-ever World Series game, which he was attempting to sell for $5 each (Castro denies this). Clearly a major crime and a threat to democracy and our very freedom as Americans. Can’t we just throw him in Gitmo?

Castro has his own clothing line, As I Be, which he operates on the Internet. He said he invented the logo while playing around on Adobe Illustrator, and was just handing out about a dozen shirts to friends as they hung out before a Rays game last year.

“The intent never was anything to do with the Rays,” Castro said. His attorney, Judith St. Clair, said that should be obvious to anyone who sees the shirts.

“The shirts look nothing like the Rays would ever and have ever marketed,” said St. Clair, an assistant public defender. “It doesn’t even say ‘Rays’ on it.”

But the Rays saw it differently. And here’s my favorite part of their logic. MLB won’t just come out and say that they’re protecting their merchandising revenue stream by prosecuting these cases. Instead, they claim that they’re actually protecting us. Yes, we’re just looking out for the common man.

Major League Baseball always is on the lookout for counterfeit merchandise, especially at big events such as the All-Star Game and playoffs, said spokesman Matt Bourne. He said it’s to protect fans from subpar merchandise. He also said Major League Baseball licenses its name and logos only to manufacturers who make high-quality goods, because “we want to make sure it meets our standards of quality.”

MLB, you see, can’t stand to think of little Trevor lying in bed asleep while wearing an inferior set of Kansas City Royals footie pajamas.

It also makes perfect sense for the team that’s ranked 12th out of the 14 teams in the AL in attendance to create negative publicity over this. The cop couldn’t have just said “Pack up your crap and get out”?

Meanwhile, Conan O’Brien doesn’t see what all the fuss is about.

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