Best Of 2014

Best "I'm gonna miss that guy"

Don Zimmer was one of the few Yankee or Red Sox players that Rays fans adored, and that’s because the effervescent, super-cuddly “Zim Bear” spent 10 years on our side as a coach and advisor. Zim — who died in June at the age of 83 — got a touching tribute when Rays broadcaster Todd Kalas announced his death during a game against the Miami Marlins. “I felt like I was getting a gift every time we talked,” Kalas said as he choked back tears. “Really sad news.” Deadspin ran this video clip of his remarks.

Judge Luis Garcia.
Judge Luis Garcia.

“This court concludes that a citizen’s right to marry is a fundamental right that belongs to the individual.” Those were the words of Judge Luis Garcia of the Monroe County Circuit Court, whose July ruling was the first in a slew of similar decisions by “activist judges” that may eventually wind up toppling the state’s anti-gay marriage amendment. Fun fact to rub in the face of John Stemberger Republicans: Garcia was appointed by Republican Governor Jeb Bush.

Best Columnist

Romano continues to carve out a distinct space in the Tampa Bay commentariat world in his Tampa Bay Times column, an effective progressive voice against the inanities that take place in the region, particularly in Pinellas County. [John Romano and Tim Nickens are tied for the Best Columnist award.]

Best Columnist

Most of Nickens’s work comes to us sans byline; he’s editor of editorials at the Times. But we’re recognizing him for when he does put his name on his work. Whether it’s David Jolly, Charlie Crist or Rick Scott, Nickens eviscerates his subjects with a rapier-like sting. [Tim Nickens and John Romano are tied for the Best Columnist award.]

Best combination of bicycles, books and booze

This past May, Tampa International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival Executive Director Margaret Murray led more than 100 literature (and liquor) lovers on a circuitous bike tour of the ’Burg, stopping off at a number of places near and dear to the late Beat writer and hipster icon. The marvelously educational trek benefited from great company, great weather and a great starting/ending location at local dive The Flamingo, one of Kerouac’s favorite haunts.

Best excuse to show your undies in public

Tampa Bay’s cycling community grows every year, and while we’re still the nation’s second most dangerous place for cyclists and pedestrians, the annual Risky Business Bike Ride is an easy way to get noticed on two wheels while scoring good karma points. The #RiskyRide — inspired by one Joel Goodsen and brought to life by local Manny Alamo & friends — requires riders to wear only underwear, Wayfarers, a long-sleeve white button-down, and tube socks (on feet) while they explore the city’s finest watering holes, all in the name of raising money for Moffitt Cancer Center. Doing good while showing off your goods? Yes, please!

Best Fare Fighters

Uber & Lyft are the two ridesharing services that have revolutionized transportation, and pissed off a lot of entrenched interests while doing so. Uber was more in the news, as the San Francisco-based service was working with local legislators to have the Hillsborough County Public Transportation drop its minimum fare of $50 for any ride in a towncar (like the “Uber Black”). But then in April, both UberX and Lyft said to hell with the rules, and began offering rides in Tampa and St. Pete, much to the consternation of local officials.

Best Hillsborough Democrat

She’s bounced back from a personal setback (her beloved husband Juan died last fall) to continue to bring up issues that her colleagues don’t. And she’s not afraid to take on Mayor Buckhorn.

Best Hillsborough Republican

Sharpe has owned this title in recent years, but the outgoing Hillsborough County Board of Commissioners Chairman might have hurt his Tampa mayoral fantasies for 2019 by standing behind Rick Scott at too many press conferences where the governor robotically refused to answer simple questions.

Best history lesson on wheels

Guided tours aren’t just for tourists, and locals would do well to join Eric Turner and his wife Katie on one of their monthly bike excursions exploring various Tampa neighborhoods. Knowledge gets doled out the way Oprah drops goodies on her studio audience, but your ass will get a minor workout, too, since you’ll be joined by handfuls of fellow bicyclists looking to either get learned on their amazing hometown or simply find out more about this city they wish they could call home.