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Saturday, 4 a.m.
Looking at the Cleveland Indians' success this year, their payroll is "only" about 40 million more than the Rays and they are ranked 21st compared to the Rays being 30th. Your thoughts as to why the Indians are more successful--better front office, coaching, player development, Lebron James, all of the above?
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Larry, I don't think we know yet. I think we'll find out a lot Sunday against Oakland.
Remember, the Bucs really haven't played a lot of great quarterbacks this year. There was Matt Ryan in the opener, but them came Case Keenum and Paxton Lynch (most of the game) and Derek Anderson and Colin Kaepernick. Yes, you have to win against whoever you play, but the secondary and pass rush will get tested in the weeks to come.
My gut feeling is that the Bucs are a year away. I think they can get into the race, and they they can reach .500. But it may be 2017 before they really make you happy.
That's really not so bad, is it? If Koetter could bring the Bucs to the playoffs by then, and end this ridiculous streak of non-essential seasons, I'd buy in. Wouldn't you?
I loved your column the other day about TB sports. I am curious about your answers. Who do you think was the worst owner in TB? The worst coach? The biggest Bucs draft bust? What do you think is the biggest blunder ever made by a TB sports team?
Thanks, Jim. I had fun writing it. You could tell by how long it was.
The worst owner? Wow, that's tough. I'd say it was Takashi Okobu, the old Lightning owner. No one even know if he existed. Even when he had team members go to Japan for the Nagano Olympics, he didn't meet them. But Hugh Culverhouse was no day at the beach. Neither was Vince Naimoli or Art Williams or Oren Koules. I know, I know. A lot of people praise Williams for taking care of the team's debt; I've always had a hard time cheering a guy for paying the light bill, however. How about this: How about a five-way tie for last place?
The worst coach, to me, was Richard Williamson. He was a nice enough guy, but I wrote at the time that he wouldn't have been considered for the Florida job, or the FSU job, or the Miami job. So why hire him? Evidently, his players wanted him. But why should they get a vote?
Williamson was supposed to be a stopgap for a big name coach (Bill Parcells, who kept playing dodgeball with the Bucs). Instead, he was awful.
The Bucs' biggest draft bust isn't easy, either. How about Dexter Jackson, the wide receiver who the team took in the second round? On a team with lousy receivers, he never caught a pass. Not a screen, not a post. Nothing. Charles McRae was bad, too. He hated football.
But the biggest bust, and the biggest blunder, was Booker Reese. That's because he actually messed up two drafts. He messed up 1982, because the team wasted a draft pick on him. And he messed up 1983, because the team traded away their No. 1 pick to take him in '82. Remember, Doug Williams had left the Bucs; well, if they had kept their 1983 draft pick, they could have had Dan Marino to replace him.
The Bucs have had a lot of busts. Reese and Curry and McRae and Gaines Adams and Keith McCants and Brian Price. I would defy any other team in the league to match them for missed picks.
The rest of the questions? The worst quarterback bust was JaMarcus Russell. Sternberg should own the Rays (any owner would push for a new stadium). DeBartolo, a Hall of Fame owner, should own the Bucs. Vinik should own the Lightning (layup). Brad Johnson, who outplayed every quarterback in the playoffs, should start the Bucs' opening game. David Price, despite his post-season record, should start an ultimate game for the Rays.
You should pull for Maddon to win it all, because we aren't vindictive. Marty should have the puck in an ultimate game. Dungy was the Bucs' best coach,even though he didn't win it all. The new Rays' stadium should be in the Gateway area.Ronde Barber was the Bucs' best secondary performer, edging John Lynch. Ben Bishop is the Lightning's best goalie. Booker Reese is the biggest bust.
Jon Cooper is the Lightning's best coach, although Tortorella won the cup. But Cooper doesn't melt faces. Lynch is the Hall of Famer here, though all of the athletes mentioned should be in. The biggest play was Barber's return. Gruden is the best Bucs' TV analyst. Belichick's leaving the Jets is huge; the team's front office should have grabbed his leg and made him drag them. The only guy who can stop Brady is Roger Goodell.
The worst owner in Tampa Bay sports was Hugh Culverhouse. Spygate was the most important ruling Goodell made, and he tried to hide it. McKay's execution of the offense was the best quote. Alvin Harper was the worst free agent. The blade used to cut off Alvin Harper's finger was the best piece of equipment.
As of now, who do think will have the better career: Maritoa or Winston?
As of right now, this second, I have Winston slightly ahead. But I watched Mariota on Thursday night, and he was terrific.
The real answer, of course, is it depends on how the teams surround both of them with talent. But I think Winston has a bit more juice as a leader, and I think his arm is big time. For him, the key is always going to be limiting his interceptions. Part of that, of course, is to have a strong running game and faster receivers. Evans is fine, but the Bucs could use a game-breaker on the other side.