Title Bay? We’re Well on Our Way

It’s an odd time here in Tampa Bay and not just because we’re in the middle of a global pandemic that has turned this, and pretty much every other city, on its head.

No, it’s twilight zone time in Tampa Bay because our sports teams have given us nothing but winners.  This year’s been like a night out at your local casino where you collect on every single slot machine you cram a dollar into.

There is no denying we’re one of America’s great sports towns but we haven’t had all that much to celebrate the last fifteen years.  The Lightning have been competitive over the last seven seasons but it wasn’t until this year that we finally saw them seal the deal.  It’s been a while since anyone in their right mind could call the Buccaneers competitive.  Heck, only a few years ago, they were struggling to get fans into the stands, which is somewhat ironic considering these days NO ONE can go.  (You remember back when televised games were blacked out in the local market, essentially strong-arming fans to attend games in person?  Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and the NFL reversed that ridiculous rule.)  These days, Tom Brady is our quarterback and the playoffs, at a minimum, at least look likely.  After all, this guy doesn’t lose to anyone but Eli Manning and he’s long since retired.  Finally, the Rays, perennially considered afterthoughts in an American League East where the rest of the division spend three times the money, are one win away from the World Series. 

All this adds up to Tampa being smack dab in the middle of its very own sports Twilight Zone, for it is perfectly conceivable (have a seat, Tampa fans) that we start calling this area Title Town… or at least Title Bay (can I trademark that?)

Imagine, if you will.

During Week One of the NFL season, I gathered round the tube with friends and loved ones to ultimately watch the Buccaneers lose to the New Orleans Saints.  I’d be lying if I told you it wasn’t completely odd to see Tom Brady, the ringbearer himself, in a Buccaneers uniform.  Most of us are still pinching ourselves.  It’s like having a yard sale and someone offering you a million dollars for your raggedy old trinkets.  Keep in mind, this is a franchise that has never really had a franchise quarterback then somehow managed to land the most decorated one in NFL history.  His signing made immediate contenders (not to mention media darlings) out of an already talented team that could not put two and two together. 

There have been some bumps in the road early (losses to New Orleans and Chicago, the occasional berating of teammates and the late-game loss of down count) but there is plenty of season left to be played.  Don’t be surprised if the Buccaneers eventually put it all together and are one of the last NFC teams standing. 

We all know about the Lightning.  I don’t know how many more celebratory posts (LOTS MORE!!!) we can write about the Stanley Cup.  But what the Rays have done on a limited budget is nothing short of spectacular.  There are still plenty of players on this roster that I don’t even know.  Don’t get me wrong, that’s because I don’t watch baseball anymore.  But a shortened season without fans suits this Rays team to a tee since no fans show up to seem them anyway.  Either way, considering their payroll is a stingy 27th out of thirty major league baseball teams, these kids are most definitely, as they say, balling on a budget.  Manager and Tampa native Kevin Cash has done his best to make lemonade out of lemons, improving this team’s record in five of his last six seasons.  Their young, pitching staff is among the best in baseball, the bullpen spectacular, their defense crafty and perhaps most importantly, they finally have players who can put the bat on the ball, which has been their bane for ages.

Yes, despite having to wear masks everywhere we walk, those of us who live here in Tampa are currently blessed to be in the Bay, and not just because of the weather.  Everywhere you turn, our sports teams are chalking up W’s.  We expected Lightning greatness but the rest of this is icing on the cake. 

Cup’s here to stay?  Rays one win away?  Brady by the Bay?  I can’t tell you how many sports fans, both fringe and fanatic, have come up to me simultaneously elated and in disbelief.  Wouldn’t it be something, they ask, if the Rays, Bucs and Lightning all won titles in the same year? 

I’d call that Title Bay, friends.

It’s not as far-fetched as you might think.  Now, about that trademark.

14 thoughts on “Title Bay? We’re Well on Our Way

  1. It’s good to have goals…it’s good to dream…I feel your passion Chump, as I’m experiencing, again I might add, that familiar championship feeling. Not so much in Hockey, but the Dodgers are poised to make another WS appearance, this, (at least on the West coast), is supposed to be their year. My Lakers have done their job, and while I am a RAIDERS fan, at least one of the teams, (RAMS), in LA is playing well and is a potential contender. (My RAIDERS, while 3/2, have beaten two of the top teams in the league). If I was a betting man from this past weekend, I could have flown to see you 🙂
    At any rate, I wish you and the other City by the Bay, a continued successful and happy sports season.

  2. Where’d you get the idea that “NO ONE can go” to Buccaneers games? My ticket for this Sunday’s game probably costs the same as airfare to Dallas. Tampa Bay fans should take the opportunity to attend World Series games in Arlington TX, and continue the celebration in all of those places in Texas. The Rays and Buccaneers are cause for many celebratory posts. Why your mindset about the Lightning isn’t totally different, is totally baffling to me. Before their playoff failure against Columbus, a bunch of Lightning players were saying they don’t take care of business when they only reach the Eastern Conference Finals. In 2015, the Lightning were built and coached to be a championship team, and the Lightning’s championship was plainly the time for us to stop being angry or worried that they wouldn’t win.

  3. Yea, Mony, nice work by the Lake Show for sure. I get the feeling their work ain’t done either.

    Solid win by the Grudennaires against the Chiefs the other night. Looks like rumors of the demise of the Gruden-Carr relationship have been grossly exaggerated.

    While Gruden heading west was bittersweet, it’s good to see the guy still has what it takes to put together a winning team.

    We’ll talk when they win a playoff game that matters.

  4. Greg…

    Ray Jay is allowing limited people into the stadium because of the pandemic. As with every other stadium, both college and pro, around the country, they are allowing only extremely limited capacity. Apparently, you didn’t see the irony in a team that once couldn’t draw now can’t host fans.

    And I’m not sure why the argumentative tone these days but if you think for one second that the Buccaneers and Rays weren’t also built to win a title, or that those who put together those teams would admit that, then perhaps you are the one that’s baffled.

  5. Moose…

    Braves has been en fuego lately.

    I’m tellin’ ya’, man. If I were given a quiz within which I had to name these teams’ starting lineups, I’d most certainly fail miserably.

  6. I saw the irony in the Rays’ success this year, not Buccaneers. The seats at Rays games are only filled to capacity in playoff games. Not to mention how unfair it is for everyone to miss out on lots of extra revenue, for the first time in twelve years. And, the Buccaneers were built to win a title eight years ago, in 2012. But the moment that young players such as Mason Foster and Mark Barron failed a little, they immediately got rid of that young talent. And the Buccaneers secondary was jinxed to be a pile of garbage for numerous years, until they got a defensive coordinator who knows how to have communication skills with players in the secondary.

  7. I had to wait for the outcome of the Rays series to comment. My mood was sinking along with my teams odds of winning the pennant. The lightning showed their mental toughness by bringing home the cup.
    The Rays brought a steely determination and a defense that was unyielding. The Bucs have problems they must overcome to make a run, but I am cautiously optimistic.
    Great post my friend and a hearty cheers for Title Bay!

  8. One of us is getting a second major sports title soon. (Never imagined I’d be saying that about Tampa Bay…And with Brady a resident now, a 3rd isn’t impossible, but I digress.)

    2020 may be a crappy year in most regards, but not for my two favorite teams. The last time the Lakers and Dodgers won titles in the same year I was still in high school. Looking forward to it hopefully happening again. VIVA LOS DOYERS!

  9. So much for my earlier comment – Braves spit the bit once again. Where’s Smoltzie when you need him?????

  10. Greg…

    I’m not sure why Jerry Jones gets to host this World Series.

    I can’t even imagine how much money the Bay area has lost by not being able to host a) Wrestlemania, which was scheduled here earlier this year then cancelled b) the entire NHL Playoffs and Stanley Cup Finals and c) World Series.

    I mean, I know why Jerry World is getting its piece of the pie ($$$$$) but why host it in such a large stadium if no fans can attend?

    As if we needed another reason to hate that guy.

  11. Deac…

    Good news… the Bucs certainly looked like they’re putting things together on Sunday. That game against the Packers was an absolute clinic.

    Bad news… after Game One, it looked like the Rays might be overmatched against a Dodgers team that might just want it a little more. Bellinger and Betts were frightening on Tuesday night.

    Time for Cash to remind these kids what’s at stake and make sure they’re not intimidated by the moment and that big bad team from L.A.

  12. Bleed…

    From the looks of it, 2020 might just be your year.

    You should get a shirt that says that and walk around town proudly… while wearing a facemask.

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