What do Tom Brady, Steven Stamkos, Randy Arozarena, Dutch Clark, Hank Greenberg and Eddie Goodfellow all have in common? If you said they all drew a salary, or continue to, by playing sports, you’d be correct.
But should the Tampa Bay Rays accomplish what most anyone inside baseball must believe they can, and should Tom Brady accomplish what he’s done six previous times, the aforementioned six will share one unique sporting accomplishment.
They will have the honor of having been members of professional sports teams to have won titles in the same season and city. That’s right, only Detroit in 1935 can lay claim to that distinction. That year the Detroit Lions, with Clark leading the team in scoring, won the NFL Championship. In baseball, the Tigers and Greenberg, the future Hall of Fame first baseman, captured the World Series. And in hockey, the Red Wings and bad-boy Goodfellow won the Stanley Cup.
For those who are curious, 1935 pre-dated the formation of the NBA. The forerunner to the Detroit Pistons, the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons, won titles in 1944 and ’45 playing in the National Basketball League. And only one city, Philadelphia, had all four major sports teams play for titles in the same year. That would have been 1980, when the 76ers, Phillies, Flyers and Eagles all did it, the Phillies beating the Kansas City Royals to win the World Series.
A host of cities have witnessed two titles in the same year, the latest being Boston in 2018, when fans of the Patriots and Red Sox celebrated. In a couple of those years, the word “Greater” had to be affixed to the city, as in 1986, when the New York Mets won the World Series and the New York Giants, based in New Jersey, won the Super Bowl.
The fact only one city has enjoyed that distinction speaks to its difficulty, but down these parts, the “Greater” Tampa area has a legitimate shot. The Lightning erased any past demons under head coach Jon Cooper by beating six different playoff opponents en route to the franchise’s second Stanley Cup.
And the Rays, supported by the usual formula of pitching and timely hitting, have the hottest thing in their lineup this side of a Cuban cigar. Arozarena went deep again on Sunday in Tampa Bay’s 2-1 Game 1 victory over the Astros. He gives the Rays a legitimate home-run threat who simply murders fastballs. If you don’t think the Rays can win it all in this weirdest of hardball seasons, they you haven’t been paying attention.
It could come down to a guy with six Super Bowl rings in his drawer. The most honest assessment of Brady thus far is that he’s looked both great and ghastly. But you have to expect the Bucs’ offense to improve as Brady gets more comfortable doing things he was never asked to do in New England, namely, drop back 5-7 steps and chuck it.
This season’s Super Bowl is in Tampa. After five weeks of the season, five teams remain undefeated. But a championship never has been handed out in October. Brady and the Bucs playing in Raymond James Stadium in the Big Game isn’t the most mind-blowing thing ever.
Brady coming to Tampa Bay in the first place was.
It seems as if COVID-19, which is forcing the NFL to play hop-scotch with its schedule, could pose the greatest threat to Tampa/St. Petersburg joining Detroit in sporting immortality.
And wouldn’t that be typical Buc luck?