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Athletic’s unexpected redemption for Tampa

Athletic's unexpected redemption for Tampa

Of all the US states, Florida isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to sports. The Miami Heat played the last of the NBA Finals and is still remembered for their titles with LeBron James, but the city itself is also home to two of the most disappointing teams currently in North American sport, the Dolphins in Soccer and the Marlins in Baseball. If Miami has had sporting difficulties, in Tampa – 400 kilometers to the north – it has been even worse: the city has had a bad reputation for its teams for years, and has often been seen as a place of retreat for others. But last season, everything changed without anyone having time to notice.

Between 2020 and 2021, there was a team from Tampa in three of the four North American Major League Finals. On September 30, Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup, the National Hockey League (NHL) final, by beating the Dallas Stars. A month later, Tampa Bay Rise played in the World Baseball Championship, surrendering to the Los Angeles Dodgers only in the sixth and penultimate game of the series, after eliminating the New York Yankees during the playoffs. Last Sunday, at last, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the Super Bowl, NFL Final, by beating champion Kansas City Chiefs despite the odds.

And that’s not all: the number of titles won in the city would have been greater had the NFL not been interrupted last season before the final that Tampa Bay Rowdies were supposed to play against the Phoenix Rising. Additionally, a few months ago, there was also a basketball team in Tampa, which has been missing until now: the Toronto Raptors, who settled in the city after the Canadian government prevented them from traveling up and down the border with United. Countries for reasons related to the epidemic. A new home team could find space in the NBA: the premise has been around for quite some time and the renewed popularity of the city could move something, like Writes The The New York Times.

Pirate fans outside Raymond James Stadium in Tampa (Octavio Jones / Getty Images)

In the history of sports in North America, the most successful cities were New York, Los Angeles, and Boston. The first two are the largest and most famous cities in the United States, while Boston has over time cultivated one of the most deeply rooted American sporting traditions, including Celtics (basketball), Red Sox (baseball), Patriots (football) and Bruins (hockey). Among these, Tampa appears to be an intruder. Its population is about half that of Boston (which also does not reach a million); It’s the third most important city in Florida, after Miami and Jacksonville, and arguably doesn’t offer much, if not what can be found across the state: beaches and good weather.

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Its history in the sport began to change, albeit slowly, in the 1990s, after nearly a century, major league baseball teams stopped attending due to their traditional training retreats for the new season. After the baseball game ran out, residents of Tampa asked to form their own baseball team. And so in 1998, the Tampa Bay Rays made their major league debut. The same thing happened before with football: in the 1960s, despite no team, Tampa sometimes hosted some NFL matches until the Pirates were founded in 1976.

Either way things didn’t go well, at least in the beginning. The Pirates took two seasons to win their first game, after losing twenty-six in a row, and even the improvements in the following years did not change their image. In baseball, the Rays finished ten seasons with less than seventy (few) wins, setting the record for losses (106) in 2002. Even in hockey, the city struggled a lot in its beginnings, in the 1990s: between 1992 and 2000 Lightning was from Among the worst teams in the NHL, so much so that they neared bankruptcy when they struggled to foreclose assets – including discs, uniforms and skates – of accumulated debts that were later repaid with great effort.

I Tampa Bay Lightning Con La Stanley Cobb (Bruce Bennett / Getty Images)

The reasons for this noticeable change aren’t entirely clear, like Tampa Bay Times. In the city it is said that water is the common factor, as you can say everywhere, jokingly: the local newspaper Achieve The same among environmental engineering experts, who assert that Tampa’s water is of excellent quality. They also added, however, that in their opinion it had nothing to do with the success of the local teams. It seems that what unites pirates, rays and lightning is just their history, marked by initial difficulties and improvements obtained over time. The first national football title arrived in 2002, in hockey the following year and in baseball they are still waiting: but in 2008 the league title arrived, which allows access to the world championship.

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The Rays have steadily improved since then, despite having one of the lowest seasonal budgets in the entire major league. On the other hand, The Buccaneers were considered a minor team even after the Super Bowl they won in 2002, but from this year they probably won’t be. They are actually the seventh title team for Tom Brady, the most successful player in American football history, who managed to win Tampa in his first year with the team, after twenty years in Boston with the New England Patriots. A joke has been circulating among fans since Sunday that Brady will score the successes that made the Boston teams famous to Tampa as retirees move to Florida from cold Massachusetts to enjoy the good weather year-round.

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