Tag Archives: Tampa Bay Rays

The Tampa Bay Lightning thrives while the Tampa Bay media look elsewhere in sports

Late this summer, before the NFL season was underway, the Tampa Bay Times did the Tampa Bay-media thing and played up the Tampa Bay Buccaneers season ahead. “Most talented offense ever?” discussion before a regular season game had been played seemed like… well, an attempt to raise expectations.

I’m not here to judge the Buccaneer season as it nears a conclusion, I’m here to ask about the Tampa Bay Lightning.

See, with that hype about the Bucs, there hasn’t been the same headline-priority work for the Bolts in the Tampa Bay media, at least not from what I’ve seen. All while the Bolts are doing what counters Tampa Bay college and pro sports teams most of the time: Winning and winning. And winning.

After Saturday night’s lop-sided victory over the Colorado Avalanche, the Lightning stood at 23-7-1 after 31 games of play so far. That’s a .742 win percentage and point percentage (the common average stat in the NHL with thanks to their point system). Despite injuries hampering the team (which has rendered the franchise impotent in years past – 2016-17 specifically) the club is still at the top of the pops, leading the NHL in points (47), wins(23) and goals-for (124).

Here’s another number of note: 23 wins is half of what the 2003-04 Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning amassed in 82 regular-season games. The club’s current 124 goals-for is just more than half the 2003-04 club’s season total of 245.

I’d also like to touch on Brayden Point’s Oh-my-God hat trick in 91 seconds of play (interrupted by an intermission). This was the fastest natural hat trick the league had seen in almost 30 years. [Author note: This did not happen in the 7-1 win cited in this piece, it happened in November and was one hell of a feat.]

Point is vying for the NHL lead in goals, everyone is lighting the lamp for God sake (including Ondrej Palat, who returned from injury to score his first and second goals of the season in the Avs game Saturday).

My question to the Tampa Bay Times is: Where’s the hype? Where’s the admission that the hockey team currently at play at 401 Channelside Drive renders the mediocre standard of Tampa Bay sports as null and void? Major League Baseball is one hell of a challenge and raising expectations with winning for the Tampa Bay Rays is asking MLB itself to change. The University of South Florida Bulls aren’t the nation’s top tier of college sports, nor the state of Florida’s for that matter.

And the Buccaneers… Oh, lordy, you’ve kissed the ass of one of the least competitive franchises in professional sports for too long. You’ve given priority to Jameis Winston’s transgressions as if they matter more than standard news affecting the masses… All while the Lightning is meh filler news fodder despite earning international interest for their contention in the premiere league of ice hockey.

The media questions that should be asked of relevance in headlines right now are:

  • Is this the best Tampa Bay Lightning team of all time?
  • Is Lightning hockey the most potent offense it has ever known?
  • Will the Lightning contend for Lord Stanley’s Cup?

51 games of NHL play remain. That’s one hell of a chore before the proverbial second season of the NHL begins. If the Lightning make the playoffs (which seems certainty with current play), they will have achieved the feat 11 times in 25 seasons of play (26 years of existence — but the 2004-05 lockout erases one season of play). That tops the Buccaneers 10 playoff appearances in 42 seasons.

One last question: Will the media give the Lightning a better dose of coverage with continued success? Sadly, that’s arguable. Prioritizing the status-quo of the sports that dominate national media is what will continue, even if the Bucs don’t contend and the Rays play as also-rans.

It’s a shame, really, because Lightning success gives a reason to take local pride. Damnit, this Bolts team is fantastic and I’m proud!

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Filed under Personal, Sports, Tampa Bay, Tampa Bay Lightning

Regionalism versus myopia: The resumption of Hatfields versus McCoy in Tampa Bay sports

More than a year ago, I wrote about the issue with St. Petersburg and the Rays. The city’s logistical location at the southern tip of Pinellas County is a rather isolated locale for the greater Tampa Bay metro region. Of course, for residents of St. Petersburg, the issue is simply because Tampa gets the unfair advantage, it’s the difficult place of the region to travel to and … and… and…

And I’m hearing too much of this Hatfields vs. McCoy’s bullshit once again. A myopic mentality has come to light once again after the Rays unveiled their new stadium proposal in the Ybor City area of Tampa.

Remarking about the proposal before getting back to the topic of this blog post: An $892 million stadium, only seating between 28,000 and 30,000 was proposed with a translucent roof structure so natural grass can be used in an indoor ballpark. A very-much excessively priced structure with an experimental asset? If you’re a resident of Tampa, St. Petersburg, elsewhere in the region, or even in Montréal for that matter, you should take issue with this. This is Jeffrey Loria-like tactics being employed by Stuart Sternberg. Oh, there is something fitting here, that a small park in Ybor City would mix with the neighborhood a-la Wrigley Field in Chicago.

This isn’t a neighborhood baseball club though. This franchise is supposed to represent the Tampa Bay Metropolitan region. That stadium plan fails unless you’re going to utilize the We must or else! strategy that St. Pete utilized in the 1980s and resulted in the construction of the domed venue now known as Tropicana Field. Continue reading

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A note on Tampa Bay sports and the playoffs

Though it literally does not play out like this:

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers make the playoffs on average less than once every four seasons of play. I’ve already pointed out the Bucs annual win percentage is abysmal and this just illustrates the club has only made the playoffs 10 times in 41 years of existence.

In contrast, the Tampa Bay Lightning makes the NHL playoffs once every two-and-a-half seasons or so… Well, that is if they make the playoffs this season and to say that’s highly likely is an understatement. As of this writing the Bolts have 94 points on the season and lead the league. If things stand pat and the Lightning make the playoffs, it’ll be the 10th time it’s been done in 25 years of existence and 24 seasons of play (remember the 2004-05 Nil season was entirely wiped out due to lockout).

I was simply going to share this among friends, hammering home the once-every-four-years vs. once-every-two-and-a-half stat but I felt like I’m being cruel to leave out the Tampa Bay Rays. This will be Tampa Bay’s Major League Baseball team’s 20th season of play (only 5 seasons younger than the Lightning) and it’s notable that the Rays post-season faring is more comparable to the Buccaneers than the Lightning: In 19 completed season of play, the Rays have only made the playoffs four times (2008, the team’s 10th anniversary season, was the first time the club ever went to the playoffs).

As awful as that looks, there’s a defense for the Rays compared to the Buccaneers or lightning for that matter: MLB’s playoff system is a much tighter beast than the NFL and NHL. The league only started using wild cards (single slots in each league) in 1994. It was expanded to two in 2012.

At any rate, unless the Lightning suffers a grand disaster of play to close the 2017-18 season (and there are only 16 games remaining for them), they’ll tie the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in all-time playoff berths. The Rays won’t be coming close anytime soon, if ever, with thanks in part going toward the differences in schedule and playoff formatting between the three pro sports leagues.

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Filed under baseball, football, hockey, Tampa Bay Lightning

Isolation and the Tampa Bay Rays quest for a new stadium [UPDATED]

Insecure, narcissist and self indulgent. These words are commonly thrown toward current United States President Donald J. Trump (as they should be). Yet what’s inspiring these words at the moment is reflecting on a city; one town in a grander regional area that wants to be on top. It’s a town that wants prominence in the region through a national spotlight, even if that spotlight is dimmed by way of the city itself.

St. Petersburg, Florida’s population is almost 250,000, 16,000 more than Reno, Nevada (“America’s Biggest Little City”). It’s part of the grander Tampa Bay metroplex. Its quest to one-up Tampa (the larger city in the Bay area) was part of why the town constructed the venue known now as Tropicana Field. Never mind the fact there was no slated pro sports team to play within the building when construction was approved in the mid-1980s; St. Petersburg had to force the location if and when (if ever) Major League Baseball expanded or relocated to Tampa Bay.

Being a Tampa Bay resident for so long, having seen and experienced life with the Dome and St. Pete in general, I cringe and shake my head now. Topping another city to lock in control of a potential jewel only shows a lack of self awareness. St. Pete has one, basic fault that keeps it understated in a the wider region; a very simple fault that’s on display at Tampa Bay Rays games and which is why a new stadium is a hot point with the club and why relocation outside of the region is a possibility….

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On Tampa Bay sports disappointment and media coverage

A disappointing season in sports – both professional and amateur — is just that, a disappointment, a downer. Things don’t go as planned and the results are lesser than you (as a fan) wish. It’s something that you can’t hold against a high school or college team while the pro sports competitive disappointments can be outright atrocities of a competitive kind, run asunder by a multitude of choices by management as well of incidents of both a competitive variety and by bad luck.

The 2016-17 Tampa Bay Lightning season is a disappointment of a competitive nature where bad luck (injuries) and a horrible schedule played part in the Bolts not roaring into a competitive, playoff-bound position that has become a constant the last three seasons. There was a noted attitude problem in the Lightning locker room, and once that was brought into check the team turned up its competitive vibe and is where it is now: Just outside the playoff bubble with a scant chance of making it and a growing chance of missing the playoffs.

It’s a disappointment, yeah. Yet the strength of the team hasn’t collapsed, things haven’t been put asunder with bad coaching or low quality management moves. For the casual fan that’s locked in on disappointment in the trades of Ben Bishop, Brian Boyle and Valtteri Filppula: They weren’t going to stick around long term by way o the salary cap and costs to do so. Bishop and Boyle will be unrestricted free agents come July 1st, Filppula was due to become one in the summer of 2018. With the club already working with a very tight salary cap, retaining them over retaining forthcoming restricted free agents Ondrej Palat, Jonathan Drouin and / or Center Tyler Johnson just couldn’t be done.

Disappointing to lose fan favorite players, especially Bishop who was such a steady hand in the crease. But when looking at the broad picture, at the “Yzerplan” that accentuates player development, it’s understandable as something that had to be done.

To cut that short: shit happens. Ho hum. Next season is going to be something worth checking out, just as this season was, and the season before…

In comparison to professional sports in the history of the greater Tampa Bay Metropolitan area which has existed 40+ years, this season of Lightning hockey ranks a hell of a lot higher on the disappointment list than oh-so-many others coming from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Rays and Lightning. All that history, all the back-story of each club doesn’t gain web-clicks or sell newspapers at the immediate moment though.

See, Tampa Bay Times (and former Tampa Tribune) sports columnist Martin Fennelly made a bold decree that this Tampa Bay Lightning’s season is the biggest disappointment in the history of Tampa Bay sports. He does quick-quick takes of other top-tier disappointing seasons for local clubs, but highlights the current state of the Lightning as “desperation hockey” and the reason why this season is the top disappointment – ever.

That’s where I’ve been revitalized as a sports blogger, because something so limited in view, perspective and opinion got the green light from the only newspaper in the region. Something so inane, random and weak didn’t just get published – it’s going to get someone his paycheck because he put words down and it fit a column length requirement. Continue reading

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by | March 22, 2017 · 8:17 AM

he weight of the Lightning and an absence from the headlines

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Filed under baseball, football, Raw Charge, Sports, Tampa Bay, Tampa Bay Lightning

Jeff Vinik’s Channel District plans aren’t with the Tampa Bay Rays in mind

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Filed under baseball, Personal, Raw Charge, Tampa Bay

Politics, religion, money and sports

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Filed under Raw Charge, Sports, Writing

Why is that stadium in St. Pete anyway?

One of the hot topics around the Tampa Bay metro region right now is the Tampa Bay Rays proposed stadium in St. Petersburg, Florida. I’m not going to bother getting into the arguments but after reading a few knee-jerk reactions and misinformation about the plans… Well, I felt it was important that people actually familiarize themselves with why the Dome was built in St. Petersburg in the first place.

I read Stadium for Rent by local author Bob Andelman during high school and it showed the battle — political and logistical – to get Major League Baseball in town.

It’s out of print but there are copies for sale out there, also the entire thing is available at the above link. It’s very much worth a read for both pro and anti-stadium people. I oppose the stadium for economic issues (the timing sucks, Stu) as well as logistical reasons, but it’s important to be armed with the facts instead of making up hearsay or misconstruing what is really going on.

I plan on buying a used copy of Stadium For Rent for quick reference in the future. I’ve held it in high regard long enough….

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Filed under Books, Personal, Politics, Tampa Bay

J.J. Hardy and ChiSox at Devil Rays last Thursday

My friend Bryan Wolfe has been a Wisconsin sports fan since I met him — he was a die-hard Packers fan at age 14, and able to talk circles around most when it came to football. I admire the guy for it, I really do. His passion also carries over to the Milwaukee Brewers and the Bucks in the NBA.

Of course with the Brewers exploding in the NL Central as baseball’s best team, Bryan is feeling vindicated for holding onto his belief that the Brewers were on the verge of something special.

With all of that in mind, I’m writing this for Bryan who was dumbstruck last Thursday at the Devil Rays / Chicago White Sox game at Tropicana Field. I don’t know all the details and I don’t want to paint this as a reaction specifically because of his Milwaukee sports pride, but my friend is now smitten with a girl who wore a Brewers jersey to the game. Not just any Brewers jersey but JJ Hardy.

Jenny, are you out there?

With exact circumstances unbeknownst to me, Bryan and Jenny struck up a conversation somewhere in and around the stadium and Jenny wowed Bryan with her insight and knowledge. She invited him to sit with her and another guy but Bryan chickened out because she was “with someone.”

That someone being her uncle, he would later find out.

So, if you’re reading this Brewers-fan-Jenny who attended last Thursday’s Rays-Chisox game in St. Petersburg with your uncle — Bryan is searching ever so desperately to get in touch with you again. He’s planning on attending more Rays games because he thinks you are a regular and hopes that will do the trick.

Me? I’m blogging for my good friend in hopes that you somehow stumble across this on the World Wide Web. Lord knows I’ve had others do that before whom I never would have suspected to ever see things I wrote.

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