The Tampa Bay Rays have formally apologized after their mascot Raymond the Stingray posed with a sign mocking the death of TV nature host Steve Irwin. 

The sign, created by a fan for last Wednesday's game against the Orioles, lists two items on a “Rays To Do List.” On the list are “World Series” and a crossed-out first item, "Steve Irwin." Back in 2006, Irwin was killed while filming a television special in Australia after a stingray became spooked and pierced his heart. 

“Rays mascot Raymond was handed an inappropriate sign brought to the game by a fan,” team spokesman Rick Vaughn said in a statement. “Fans are welcome to bring signs into Tropicana Field provided they are not offensive. The Tampa Bay Rays regret that this particular sign was displayed in the ballpark, and we apologize for the lapse in judgment.”

The sign's creator, Lloyd Johnson, believes otherwise — calling on those who found it offensive to stop taking things so seriously. 

"I love Steve Irwin, but come on, it's funny," he said. "Every time I stood up I was stopped to take a picture with someone.

"The reaction, at least from what I heard at the stadium and on Facebook, was positive."

Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

Tampa Bay Rays apologize for offensive Steve Irwin sign
Major League Baseball team says mascot's decision was a 'lapse in judgment.'