Congratulations this morning to the Tampa Bay Bucs and their fans, who finally have something to feel good about this season after the Mike Glennon-led Bucs stunned the Steelers in Pittsburgh yesterday in the final seconds, 27-24.
There probably aren't too many people talking about the Tampa Bay Rays this morning, as they concluded their tremendously disappointing 2014 regular season quietly yesterday, losing to the Cleveland Indians and finishing their regular season 77-85. They scored only 612 runs all year in the process, the fewest in the American League and the fewest in their 17-year history as a professional organization.
So, the season is over now for the Rays and 19 other Major League Baseball franchises, and finally, the best part of baseball can start with the playoffs, including single-elimination games on Tuesday and Wednesday nights before the best-of-five division series begin in Thursday in the AL, Friday night in the NL.
And while the Rays' regular season was a bust, so was much of Major League Baseball in 2014, I would argue. Yes, you had a spectacular no-hitter thrown in Washington yesterday (one of a record-tying five no-hitters in the National League), you had a nice farewell for Derek Jeter, and many other fun things throughout the year, but there were far too many warts on this regular season that we can only hope will fade away after the next month of exciting, tense, post-season ball.
Basically, there simply isn't enough offense in the game. A record-breaking 37,441 batters struck out this year, surpassing last year's total of 36,710, the previous record. Oh, and the regular season batting average was .251, the worst since 1972. Teams averaged 4.07 runs per game, the lowest since 1981.
Moving on to the local action: No doubt there will be lots of television cameras in the County Center in Tampa on Wednesday when the Hillsborough County Commission votes to have the Tampa Sports Authority be the local agent to handle discussions with the Rays about a possible baseball stadium. A deal involving Mayor Rick Kriseman and team executives will hopefully be consummated shortly, allowing that to finally happen.
And it's about time that did happen. With tourist tax money that could be diverted toward constructing the public portion of a public/private stadium project coming up for discussion and redistribution in 2015, it's time to let Stu Sternberg see what the market might bear for the Rays outside of St. Petersburg. And another desultory baseball statistic to deal with this morning: the Rays ended the season averaging less than 18,000 attendees a game (17, 857), the third consecutive season they've been at rock bottom among the 30 MLB teams.
In other news....
The activist group 15 Now has ambitious plans to make Florida a better place to live for middle-class residents. CL's Ashley Whitney attended the group's press conference on Saturday afternoon in front of St. Pete City Hall.
And on ABC's This Week yesterday, House Speaker John Boehner was profiled. According to some reports, if enough Tea Party-like Republicans advance to the House in November, his tenure as the most important man in the House of Representatives could be in peril.