As 2019 winds down and we enter a new year and new decade, its time to reflect a bit on the good, the bad, and the ugly in Tampa Bay Sports for 2019.
Here are the top 10 moments that we debated and talked about that defined Tampa Bay sports in 2019
10. The XFL announces it is re-starting the now defunct league that last played in 2001 and one of the eight teams will play at Raymond James Stadium and be called the Tampa Bay Vipers.
Offensive guru Marc Trestman will serves as head coach and offensive coordinator, while Jerry Glanville will handle the defense.
A couple of players with ties to the area, Arron Murray, Quinton Flowers, and Vincent Testaverde JR. will battle for roster spots with Murray the Plant High product expected to be the starting quarterback.
9. Buccaneeers hire Bruce Arians to be the 12th head coach in franchise history.
After two consecutive 5-11 season, the culture needed a shakeup at One Buc Place and Jason Licht knew just the man to do it in Bruce Arians.
Arians was retired and living on a private lake in Georgia when he got the call from Licht to come to Tampa and try to turn the Bucs fortunes around.
Not only are the Bucs on the brink of their first .500 season in three years, but the run defense leads the league, and overall the young defense continues to improve every week.
8. The lightning had three players with 40 or more goals, as Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, and Braydon Point all notched north of 40 goals in the record season Stamkos with 45, Kucherov with 41, and Braydon point with 40.
7. Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa bay Lightning scores 41 goals and records 128 points in a season, and sets an all-time franchise record for the most points in a season. The 128 points are also the most that any player has had since the 1992-93 season.
Kucherov would go on to win the Hart Trophy as the leagues MVP and the Art Ross trophy as the leading scorer.
6. Linebacker Shaq Barrett ties Warren Sapp as the all-time Buccaneer sack leader with 16.5. With one game remaining, there is a good chance that Barrett will break Sapp’s record and hold the all-time sack record exclusively.
5. The Jameis Winston saga continues! Will he stay or will he go? This was one of the hottest debated topics of the football season and will be the hot topic in the Buccaneer off-season until the Bucs make a decision on Winston.
You either love him or hate him. One minute he looks like he’s ready for the Hall of Fame, the next minute it looks as if he has never read an NFL defense.
Jameis Winston. One of the most polarizing sports figures in Tampa, that has the fan base split right down the middle. Winston could be the first quarterback in NFL history to lead the league in passing yards, touchdowns passes, and interceptions.
Earlier this season Winston set the NFL record as the only quarterback with two consecutive games with over 450 yards passing.
4, The Lightning set a franchise record with 62 wins. The 62 wins also ties an NHL record for most wins in a season and the team finishes with 128 points which was good for third place all time in NHL history.
3. The Rays make the playoffs with lowest payroll in baseball at just over $64 million according to Spotrac winning 96 games and taking the American League Champion Houston Astros to seven games in the ALCS.
Despite being second to last in attendance in baseball,drawing 14,733 fans per game, the Rays were able to sell out Tropicana Field in their two playoff home games against the Astros.
2. Rays owner Stuart Sternberg proposing that the Rays split the season with the City of Montreal with baseball being played in St. Petersburg during the months of February through mid June, and Montreal hosting the Rays from Mid June till the end of September.
There was no discussion as to what city would get to host the home playoff games.
Needless to say this idea went over like a lead balloon and for all intents and purposes the idea is dead until the 2028 season.
1. The Lightning coming off the second best season in NHL history with 62 wins and 128 points get swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round of the playoffs 4-0.
This was the biggest upset in all of sports in 2019 and one of the biggest upsets in sports history as no team had ever been so dominant in the regular season and then swept out of the playoffs in the first round by a lower seed.