10 disappointing days for Tampa Bay sports fans

by Gary Shelton on April 16, 2019 · 0 comments

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

Emanuel's non-catch still irks fans.

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

The sun does not shine. The air is not sweet. Food does not taste good.

The traffic is annoying. Your co-workers get on your nerves. The water is never chilled.

These are the days after failure. The worst of all possible times. The night before, there was life, and there were possibilities. But that was before disappointment ruled the day. This was before defeat. This was before elimination.

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The darkest days are always made with the same misery. You cannot help but talk about the waste, the broken promises, the days that should have been brighter. They team had spent a season building to a grand finish, and then ... nothing. Someone shut off the light. Someone locked away the playing field.

Soon, barring an unforeseen comeback, we will feel the sting again. For a long time, the Lightning was so good, so talented. And then they were just another collection of individuals skating aimlessly about.

Before we get to the worst moments that Tampa Bay has suffered, a few ground rules. A list of the ultimate disappoints does not include the regular season. No matter how bitter the loss, there is no finality like in the playoffs. A regular-season game can hurt, sure (remember the Colts-Bucs in 2003?). But ultimately, a season is judged -- good or bad -- in the post-season.

A second rule: A crushing disappointment does not come in a series in which the home team won. Sure, game five in Calgary was a disappointment for the Lightning in 2004. But it wasn't crushing. The Bolts overcame it.

No, the days were talking about were key ones in a series or game that was squandered. It ended a season in which you thought should have continued. And the ache did not fade for months.

If the Lighting were to lose one more game (of the next four), this would qualify. A Tampa Bay team has never looked so good, so dominant before it left you feeling empty.

So far, the 10 worst days to be a Tampa Bay fan.

1.Bucs vs. Rams, NFC title game, January 23, 2000: Of course it was a catch. Receivers have gotten into the Hall of Fame with exactly that kind of catch. The only question is if the Bucs would have traveled the remaining 22 yards for the score. They never got a chance, however. Because of an instant replay review, the Bucs ended up on the short end of an 11-6 loss. It stopped Tampa Bay from reaching the Super Bowl with Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, John Lynch and Ronde Barber. Until now, there has never been an ache quite like it.

2. Lightning at Chicago, Stanley Cup Finals game six: June 15, 2015: The Lightning led the Stanley Cup final after three games, but then lost three straight games to lose to Cup to the Blackhawks. In Game Six, they were shut out.It was as close to the Cup as the Bolts have gotten since winning it in 2004.

3. Phillies vs Rays, World Series game five: October 27. 2008: the Rays lost their only World Series in five games, although three of the losses came by one run. The most frustrating one was their final game, because it took three days to play because of the weather. Some suspected the TV networks didn't want to play on Tuesday night because of the showing of the popular series "House." At any rate, the Bolts fell 4-1 when Pedro Feliz drove in Eric Bruntlett, who was pinch-running for Pat Burrell.

4. Rams vs. Bucs, NFC title game, Jan 6, 1980: The Bucs were almost a made-for-TV movie. Only four years after their birth, and only two years after winning their first game, Tampa Bay was one game away from the Super Bowl.But the Bucs couldn't move the ball (Doug Williams hit one of his first nine passes for one yard. For the day, he hit two of 13 for 12 yards). A 27-yard touchdown pass that was called back with three minutes to go would have just made the score closer.

5. Capitals vs. Lightning, Eastern Conference finals. May 23, 2018. The Bolts had a chance. They led Washington three games to two, and needed only one win to get to the Stanley Cup finals. Alas, they were shut out in back to back games, including a 4-0 loss in game seven.

6. Giants vs. Bucs. NFC Wild Card game, January 6, 2008: A team ought to win its playoff games at home. It's that simple. But while the Bucs had trouble scoring, the Giants started a run that would end in a Super Bowl title with a 24-14 win. The Bucs led 7-0, but ran for only 69 yards against the Giants.

7. Bruins vs Lightning, Eastern Conference finals, game seven. May 28, 2011: It may have been the most overachieving of all Lightning teams. Guy Bouchard's club pushed Boston within one game of the Stanley Cup. The Bolts lost when Nathan Horton scored a third-period goal.

8. Redskins vs. Bucs, wild-card game. Jan. 7, 2006: Tampa Bay hasn't made a lot of playoffs lately. Maybe that's why it hurt when the Buc lost a 17-10 game to Washington when Chris Simms' pass to Edell Shepherd was dropped in the end zone. The Bucs gained only 120 yards on offense.

9. Rangers vs. Rays, Divisional Playoff, Game Five. October 12, 2010: The Rays lost the deciding game when Cliff Lee out dueled David Price in Game 5. Lee struck out 11. Ian Kinsler hit a two-run homer in the ninth in a 5-1 victory.

10.Bucs vs. Eagles, NFC wild card game. Jan 12, 2002. For the second straight season, the Bucs went to Philadelphia  for a wild card game and were embarrassed. This time, the score was 31-9. The Bucs gained just 63 yards rushing in what would be Tony Dungy's final game.

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