When will it be Tampa Bay’s time in the sun?

by Gary Shelton on June 25, 2019 · 2 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Bucs, Tampa Bay Lightning, Tampa Bay Rays

Dungy was a key figure for the Bucs./JEFFREY S. KING

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

A common draft suggests the home team has as many chances as the next one.

A salary cap, which two of the three teams have, suggest that, eventually, things will even out.

Shared TV revenues say that everyone has a shot at confetti.

So when is it our turn?

When does Tampa Bay get to the winner’s circle again?

Content beyond this point is for members only.

Already a member? To view the rest of this column, sign in using the handy “Sign In” button located in the upper right corner of the GarySheltonSports.com blog (it’s at the far right of the navigation bar under Gary’s photo)!

Not a member? It’s easy to subscribe so you can view the rest of this column and all other premium content on GarySheltonSports.com.

[s2If current_user_can(access_s2member_level1)]

Maddon got the Rays to a World Series./CARMEN MANDATO

Oh, there for a while, things were going along swimmingly. After the 2002 season, the Bucs reached the Super Bowl. Two years later, the Lightning won the Stanley Cup. Four years after that, the Ray made the World Series.

And then…nothing.

Crickets chirp. Coyotes howled. The tumbleweeds blew down the street.

And other teams won titles. Other towns had parades. Other fans felt fulfilled.

But not us.

And you wonder: When is our next title coming?

You might have thought this year’s Lightning had a shot. They were unleashed hell in the regular season — not that that counts for much. They were slick and fast and talented … and they finished with egg on their faces. It was the single most disappointing playoffs following the single most successful regular season you could imagine.

The Bucs? Yes, they have a new energy with coach Bruce Arians. But Arians and his staff appear to be leaning on too many players who have proven they can’t play. Most of the oddsmakers don’t like Tampa Bay’s chances this year, either.

And, of course, there are the confusing Rays, a team that started like a house on fire and lately has looked like a team on fire. They are a .500 team for their last 60 games, a victim of their taxed bullpen and a hitting that fades in and out.

So what’s going to change?

And how long will it take?

It has been 5,994 days since the Bucs won a playoff game. It has been 5,495 days since the Bolts won their Cup. It has been 3,893 days since the Rays made it to the World Series. That’s more than a decade since Tampa Bay’s fans had a real reason to cheer.

Think about it. Since the Super Bowl, the Bucs have played in 256 regular season games. They’ve played in two playoff games, both losses. The Rays have played in 1,698 regular season games. The Lightning has played in 1,136 regular season games. And there have been precious few playoff games.

The Bucs are particularly disappointing. They have had high draft picks, and haven’t done nearly enough with them. They play in a league where fortunes change all the time (see: the Rams, the Eagles). And yet, they spin their wheels repeatedly. Only Cleveland can match their run of bad seasons, and things are looking better for the Browns.

Again, the Bolts have been very, very good … in the regular season. But ask yourself this: How many regular season games does the Lightning have to win this year before you believe in them again? All of them?

Then there are the Rays, who keep picking the worst possible times to talk to Tampa, or to talk about Montreal. We all know the attendance problems. We all know the financial hardships. But it’s hard to blame fans for wanting more wit a franchise that has made the post-season just four times.

Here’s a question: Assuming it ever turns around, how does it turn around?

The last time the Bucs really changed their fortunes, the key figure was Tony Dungy. Yes, you can debate whether he or Jon Gruden was the better coach, but there is no arguing that when it came to taking a bad team and making it good, Dungy has been the impact person.

With the Lightning, it was John Tortorella pushing and kicking his team until it believed its young talent.

With the Rays, you can debate whether it was John Maddon or Andrew Friedman.

But again, the key was one key figure in leadership who figured out the slots for the young talent of the franchise.

Frankly, it’s time for winning again. The Bolts certainly have the talent. The Rays have some of it. The Bucs? Well, we’re waiting for them to prove us wrong.

We grow old as we wait. Our eyesight fades. Our nerves are shot.

Still, we wait.

 

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Larry Beller June 25, 2019 at 9:33 am

The Lightning are the only team with a realistic shot for a championship in this market. They have talented players, a great owner and with a few upgrades could get back in the hunt next year. The Bucs have bad ownership and that means no good hires get made to run the football operations since the owners don’t have a clue. The Rays are on the way out but even if they stayed it’s a bad bet to think they could ever get to the top with their limited resources in a sport with no salary cap. The big market teams will always out spend them by miles.

So it’s not all doom and gloom but our chances are down to 1 of the 3 franchises. Go Bolts!

Reply

Gary Shelton June 26, 2019 at 12:31 am

The Bolts are closest, I agree. But they have their own brand of frustration. Still, who is more disappointing? Winston or Snell?

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: