by Gary Shelton on July 9, 2021

in general

Friday, 4 a.m.

Call it 500 Days that Shook the World.

At least, call it 500 Days that Reinvented Tampa Bay as a sports town.

Today, we strut. Today, we are full of ourselves. No one can remember the bad old days of front offices that bumped into each other. No one remembers the draft busts, or the last place finishes, or the goofy ownership groups.

Today, we are Champa Bay. We collect silver.

The Lightning reminded us of this on Wednesday night, when they collected their second straight Stanley Cup and their third overall. Soon enough, the Bucs will launch their own title defense. The Rays are stuck on the American League championship, but as miserly as they are, that's understandable.

These days, sports are fun. We have imported so many stars, and we have won so many games, that it tends to go right to our heads. We are winners. We get it done. We don't lose two in a row.

And furthermore, grr.

Oh, some of you can remember. You remember Leeman Bennett and Ray Perkins, Kokusai Green and Art Williams, Oren Koules and Hugh Culverhouse. You remember Booker Reese and Marc Dennis and Pat Burrell. You remember Toe Nash and Charles McRae and the blurry fax machine.

But winning has changed all of that. These days, fans are amused, even eager, to welcome back the Bucs' creamsicle Jerseys. No one seems angry at Bo Jackson any more.

The last 500 days -- 447 if you're keeping count -- have changed that. That's the ay the Bucs decided to trade in Jameis Winston for Tom Brady, and my, how things have changed since then.

We have seen the Bucs bring in Rob Gronkowski and Tristan Wirfs, Leonard Fournette and Antonio Brown. We have seen a defense grow up. We have seen a long road trip where the Bucs bashed Washington, New Orleans and Green Bay before coming home to beat Kansas City in the playoffs.

We have seen the Rays, plucky over-achievers that they are, bring in Randy Arozarena and their trio of gifted rookies. We have seen Mike Brousseau homer off Ardolis Chapman. We have seen the team survive against Houston.

We have seen the wonderful Bolts win and then win again, holding into the Stanley Cup like a team afraid to let tomorrow come. We have seen Andrei Vasilevskiy pile up the goals, Nikita Klucherov pile up the assists and Braden Point pile up the goals.

Suddenly, our teams are smart, and strong, and talented. They border on the cocky. They collect the heads of their enemies.

There are great stories around here, from Kucherov missing an entire regular season, to Brady getting the last laugh on Bill Belichick, to the Rays climbing underneath the skin of the big-money Yankees. There are likable coaches. There are promising kids.

All in all, this is the best time to be a Tampa Bay sports fan. Every day, we get a little taller, a little Leander, a little better looking.

As the man says, I can't wait for tomorrow.

The Reshaping of Tampa Bay

3-18-20 — Bucs sign Tom Brady

4-20-20— Bucs trade for Gronkowsi

4 22--20— Bucs draft Tristan Wirfs

6-10-20 — Bucs place tag on Barrett

8-11-20 — Lightning beats Blue Jackets in five overtimes on shot by Point to start their journey

8-19-20 – Lightning eliminates Blue Jackets

8-31-20 -- Lightning beats Bruins on shot  by Hedman in double to

9-6-20 — Bucs sign Leonard Fournette

9-17-20 — Lighting beat Islanders to win Prince of Wales Trophy

9-28-20 — Lightning wins Stanley Cup on shutout by Vasi

9-28-20 — Hedman wins Conn Smith

9-30-20 — Rays eliminate Blue jays in best of three playoff series.

10-9-20 — Rays beat Yankees in Game five in playoffs to win AL Division Series on Mike Brousseau’s homer of Ardolis Chapman

10-17-20 — Rays beat Astros fin Game Seven or American League title

10-17-20 — Randy Arozarena named ALCS MVP

10-27-20 — Rays eliminated by Dodgers after manager Cash pulls Blake Snell. 

10-27-20 — Bucs sign Antonio Brown

11-8-20  — Arozareana wins Babe Ruth Award

12-13-20 — After a bye week, Bucs start a four-game winning streak with wi over Minnesota

12-19-20 — Jason Pierre Paul is named to the Pro Bowl, the only Buc representative. The teams the Buc will beat in the playoffs include two from Washington, five from New Orleans, seven from Green Bay and seven from Kanass City

1-9-21    — Bucs win first playoff game since 2003 by beating Washington

1-17-21 — Bucs win on the road in New Orleans after sufferering two losses in regular season

1-24-21 — Bucs win NFC title game on the road in Green Bay

2-7-21 — Bucs win Super Bowl over Chiefs.

2-7-21 — Brady wins fifth Super Bowl MVP

3-12-21 — Bucs sign Brady to an extension

3-13-21  — Bucs sign Lavonte David

3-15-21 — Bucs resign Rob Gronkowski

3-16-21 — Bucs resign Shaq Barrett

3-17-21 — Bucs place franchise tag on Chris Godwin

3-23-21 — Bucs resign Ndamukong Sulh

3-30-21— Bucs resign Fournette

4-28-21 — Bucs resign Antonio Brown

4-29-21 — Bucs draft Joe Tryon

4-20-21 — Bucs draft Kyle Trask

5-16-21 — Lightning start playoffs run as Kucherov returns with win two goals and an assist.he would lead the NHL in poxy-season scoring.

5-26-21 — Lightning eliminate Panthers in six games on shutout by Vasy

6-8-21 — Lighting eliminates Hurricanes in five games on shutout by Vasy

6-23-21 — Lightning loses in overtime to Hurricanes, but Point scores a goal in ninth straight game,  second most in NHL history

6-25-21 — Lightning eliminates Islanders on shutout by Vasy to win Prince of Wales Trophy.

6-28-21 — Vasy is second in voting for the Vezina Trophy. Hedman third in Norris. Neither Jon Cooper nor Julian BrisBoise were finalists in their category.

7-7 -21 — Lightning wins another Stanley Cup by beating Montreal on shutout by Vasy. Vasy closes out all four series (and the title series a year ago) with a shutout.

7-7-21 -- Vasy wins Conn Smythe.

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