In the past few years, Boston sports fans have had a whole lot to cheer about. Since the turn of the new century, Boston’s professional sports teams have each reigned in their respective leagues at least once since 2000; this makes them the only city to accomplish this. The city of Boston has celebrated 12 championship parades since then; the New England Patriots have won six Super Bowl Championships, the Boston Red Sox won four World Series titles and the Boston Bruins and Celtics have each won a sole championship throughout the last 20 years of sports. To fans all around the country, this is an impressive feat. But, will they be dethroned to an up and coming sports city?
The city of Tampa, Fla. has shown incredible success to their fans in recent years, and many think that Tampa will be the next big championship hub of all of professional sports. With two Boston legends, Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, reuniting on the football field to represent the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, combined with a young and star-studded Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team, all signs point to Tampa taking the championship torch from the city of Boston. On top of the other leagues, the Tampa Bay Rays (35-19) are currently sitting atop the American League East division of Major League Baseball, with the famed Red Sox dead last (20-34). Although the city does not currently host a National Basketball Association team, I believe that Tampa will quickly rise as the next championship hub for professional sports.
Let’s start with the Buccaneers, who have been one of the hottest and most frequent headlines in NFL news lately. The team has recently added some big names to their group, most notably the former New England Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady, who hauled in an impressive six Super Bowl wins. With his recent repeated playoff success in Boston, there is no doubt that he can repeat this in Tampa. He is surrounded with old and new faces on his offensive line, one being his go-to tight end, Rob Gronkowski, who came out of retirement to catch footballs for his former quarterback. Also joining them on the gridiron is former Penn State University wide receiver, Chris Godwin, and seasoned receiver Mike Evans. Finally, with the recent pickup of running back Leonard Fournette, the Bucs offense looks rather scary to opposing NFL defenses. Even if the Buccaneers do not dive into their winning ways right away, don’t panic; within the next few years and with the addition of more young stars, they will be able to secure the Lombardi Trophy in no time.
The Lightning, out of every other Tampa sports team, has had the most success in the past five years. They gave fans a spark of excitement in 2015 when they ran an impressive Stanley Cup run in the National Hockey League, only to lose in the championship to the Chicago Blackhawks. In 2015, the tide of the NHL changed, with the Blackhawks’ dynasty breaking apart and the Lightning’s rise to success just beginning. Young stars began to take shape; Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point and Andrei Vasilevskiy have been three standout players in the Lightning’s last few seasons. They have been slowly, but steadily, rebuilding their team, and now they have created one of the most solid offenses in the league. This year they posted a league high of 245 goals, proving they are a dominant scoring team. They most recently fended off the New York Islanders in game six of the Eastern Conference Finals, after a hard fought battle to make it to the final stage of the playoffs. There is a very legitimate chance that you will be seeing this year’s Lightning team bring home the cup and kickstart the city’s championship era.
Finally, the Rays team has been on the rise recently. Although they had a brief streak of bad news in the last week, with the loss of their first baseman Ji-Man Choi to an injury and a split of their series versus the Red Sox, that is simply a mere fork in the road for the red hot Rays. The last year showed that the Rays can play with the big dogs, more specifically the Houston Astros. They began the playoffs with a wildcard game win over the Oakland Athletics, and then took the dominant Astros to a five game series, where their postseason came to an end. Currently leading the pack in the American League East, they have proved that they are not letting their small setbacks get in their heads, and they will keep pushing forward, possibly into the realm of playoffs. This Rays team can play baseball, and they will undoubtedly prove this in the future, if they have not already.
Through an analysis of the three Tampa sports teams, I can say with confidence that Boston will no longer be the dynamic championship-winning city they used to be because the Tampa teams will prevail. In this decade, the Buccaneers, Lightning and Rays will have a lot to prove to the sports world, but I believe that they will make a name for themselves and shock the world. The future is incredibly bright for Tampa sports; the fans will soon have their turn to line the streets and celebrate in the way that Boston has become accustomed.