I may have touched on this Best of the Bay thingie while talking about music (sweet music…music everywhere) but the topic of note is the one that my name is usually linked to: The Tampa Bay Lightning. Creative Loafing’s 2017 reader poll doesn’t lack nor neglect notable aspects of the Bolts – directly or indirectly – which sets the table for Lightning fans to show support for cogs they know regarding the club.
Mind you, there may be more nominated aspects and assets with ties to the franchise (Amalie Arena, or perhaps a locale within the arena). What’s being cited here is from the section called People, Places, Politics which features categories pertaining to public figures, locations and sports.
For starters, the most predictable nomination that could be bestowed pertaining to this topic, the Tampa Bay Lightning are nominated for Best Local Pro Sports Team. Of course the Bucs, Rays and Storm also make the list. The Clearwater Threshers (Single-A baseball affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies) were also nominated.
At the toppermost of the poppermost, Lightning owner Jeff Vinik wasn’t nominated as Best CEO… No, no, Vinik is nominated in the category Best Local Citizen which is tied to his business work, his development work in downtown Tampa’s Channelside district, philanthropy, and of course his oversight of a certain professional sport franchise which he rescued from OK (Not Really) Hockey LTD in 2010. Speaking of Vinik’s development work among other things, he is also nominated for Best Mover & Shaker.
Another certainty nomination for the Bolts is Head Coach Jon Cooper appearing in the Best Sports Coach. The category isn’t without a fault though. Also nominated is a fellow named “John Gruden” – a misspelling of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden. For the record, former Lightning head coach John Tortorella had his Lightning teams (2001-01 through 2007-08) make more playoff appearance than Gruden’s Buccaneers (four appearance to three). There’s more drama and debate to note for the differences between coaches but that’s going off on too much of a tangent. Gruden was nominated by a fanboy while historic coaches who turned their franchises around (Tony Dungy with the Bucs, Tortorella with the Bolts, Joe Maddon with the Tampa Bay Rays) were neglected. We’ll leave it at that.
Coverage of the Tampa Bay Lightning also made the Best of the Bay ballot in three categories. We’ll start with Best Local Sportswriter where longtime Lightning beat writer Erik Erlendsson is a nominee. Also in the category is the Lightning’s official team reporter, Bryan Burns. One key name missing here is Tampa Bay Times beat reporter Joe Smith. Joe’s not in the Best Local Sportswriter category, no, no… Smith is a nominee in the Best Local Newspaper Reporter. So, the three big names tied to Lightning coverage in the Bay area are on the ballot.
Of course there’s also the little coverage of the Lightning by way of the Tampa Bay blogosphere. Long time Tampa Bay area blogger and Raw Charge contributor Clark Brooks is featured under Best Local Blogger. Not to be neglected, Lightning Shout founder and front man W.B. Philp is also a candidate in the category. There are a lot of other nominated writers and blogs under the Best Local Blogger category and I may be missing those who write for Raw Charge, Bolts by the Bay, Lightning Shout, Bolt Prospects or another Bolts blog which I don’t know of. I’m not deliberately leaving anyone out though. Please leave a comment below if you notice someone notable from the Boltosphere I’ve missed.
Voting on the 2017 Creative Loafing Best of the Bay is open until August 23 and there are more sections and categories and noteworthy candidates to cast a vote for, so take a gander when you have a chance and cast a ballot for each section.