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Joe Maddon, Rays Support The USF Bulls

Over the past few years, there has developed a sort of kinship between the various sports team in the Tampa Bay area. Rays players have been seen at Lightning home games on multiple occasions -- Evan Longoria seems to love the Bolts -- and Lightning players have been invited over to Rays games to throw out the first pitch. Former Bucs coach Raheem Morris was close with Rays manager Joe Maddon, and both of them supported each other off the field -- which led to this awesome video of Maddon conducting an interview in a football helmet.

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And now that the USF Bulls' basketball team is sitting on the NCAA bubble, the Tampa Bay Rays are decking out to support their St. Petersburg neighbors.

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Photos courtesy of the Tampa Tribune.

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Do any other MLB teams support their surrounding local clubs at all? I don't follow many other regions that closely, but this sort of close-knit support of local teams seems rather unique to the Tampa Bay area. And Joe Maddon appears to be the center of this connection, going out of his way to promote the other local teams and giving us yet another reason to label him the coolest manager in baseball.

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The Bulls play their first game in the Big East tournament this Wednesday at 9:00pm. A win would give them an excellent shot at a bubble bid for the NCAA tournament, so whether you're a Bulls fan or a Rays fan, hopefully you'll tune in to cheer them on.

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Photographs by cstreet.us, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.