Shooting from the lip: Tom Jones gives his Two Cents on the world of sports
These days, this area is the sports capital of the United States.
Think about it. There might not have been a better place to be a sports fan in the past nine months than in Central Florida. With a little bit of cash and a half-tank of gas, you could’ve gone to watch the championships of three of North America’s four major sports.
In October, the World Series was at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. In February, Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium hosted the Super Bowl. And now, in Orlando, the Magic is playing in the NBA Finals. That’s three of the four major sports holding championships in our area.
Many cities have hosted two championships in the span of a year or a few months, although it’s rare that the same community hosts the Super Bowl and the World Series — probably the country’s two premier sporting events — in the same general time frame.
A look back at some other cities that, for a short spell, could lay claim to being the sports capital of the United States:
It’s hard to find a city that played host to more championships in a short spell than Minneapolis. From the last week of May 1991 to the first week of April 1992 — a span of 11 months — Minneapolis was home to the Stanley Cup final, golf’s U.S. Open, the World Series, the Super Bowl and the Final Four.
It started with Mario Lemieux and the Penguins winning their first Cup by beating the old North Stars in May 1991. Two weeks later, Payne Stewart won his first U.S. Open title at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, a suburb of the Twin Cities. The Twins followed that in October with a thrilling seven-game World Series victory against the upstart Braves. At Super Bowl XXVI at the Metrodome in January 1992, the Redskins handed the Bills the second of four consecutive Super Bowl losses. Then, on April 6, Duke won its second consecutive NCAA basketball title with a victory against Michigan.
San Diego, 1998
As a sports town, San Diego is famous for never winning a championship in a major sport, not even at the college level. But in 1998, San Diego did host this country’s two premier sporting events. On Jan. 25, 1998, Qualcomm Stadium hosted a pretty decent Super Bowl as the Broncos and quarterback John Elway won their first NFL title with a 31-24 victory against Brett Favre’s Packers. In October of that year, the Padres advanced to their second World Series, but it was a short stay as they were swept by the Yankees.
Another city to have the double dose of the Super Bowl and World Series in the same calendar year. In Super Bowl XL on Feb. 5, 2006, at Detroit’s Ford Field, Motor City native Jerome Bettis returned with the Pittsburgh Steelers and beat the Seattle Seahawks 21-10. In October, the Tigers, just three years removed from losing 119 games, advanced to the World Series, where they lost in five games to the Cardinals.
Los Angeles, 1977
Pasadena’s Rose Bowl hosted Super Bowl XI on Jan. 9, 1977, when the Raiders pounded the Vikings 32-14. In October of that year, the Dodgers fell victim to the Yankees in the World Series. That was the season of Reggie Jackson’s three-homer performance to wrap up the series in Game 6 back in New York.
Los Angeles, 1972-74
This is a longer stretch of time, but from spring 1972 to fall 1974, Los Angeles hosted two NBA Finals, a Final Four, a Super Bowl and a World Series.
What is it with former Bucs and the broadcast booth? With former safety John Lynch and former coaches Jon Gruden and Tony Dungy all joining the booth this offseason, the Bucs now have seven former players or coaches who are talking into microphones. The list:
NBC’s Football Night in America
He knows his stuff, but he’s so soft-spoken and pleasant that it’s hard to imagine he’s going to be the dynamic voice viewers usually see in a studio. We’ll have to wait to see how good he will be.
Fox and Bucs preseason games
Good looks and intelligent. Hey, the guy went to Stanford, so we know he can speak. Here’s hoping he’s not too technical.
The former Bucs QB doesn’t have the on-field resume of many jocks-turned-broadcasters, so some viewers might not give him tons of credibility. He’s extremely outspoken and brutally honest but not just for the sake of being outspoken. The guy tells it like it is.
He brings a solid ex-star mentality to the set. He doesn’t even mind playing the part of the ex-diva, the coddled superstar, and that makes a perfect foil for the hard-nosed Mike Ditka.
Consider us shocked because not only is he the best of the former Bucs on the air, he might be the best football analyst there is. It seems that everything that comes out of his mouth is exactly the way he meant it to come out. And all of it is interesting.
No surprise that he is entertaining because he isn’t afraid to criticize anyone. But sometimes you have to wonder if he says something crazy just to say something crazy.
Three things that popped into my head
1. How weird is it that the Rays will have the 30th pick in Tuesday’s Major League Baseball draft? Anything lower than No. 3 seems strange. By the way, a couple of the mock drafts have the Rays taking Wil Myers, a 6-foot-3, 185-pound catcher/third baseman from Wesleyan Christian Academy in High Point, N.C., but some scouts have moved Myers up into the top 20.
2. You get the feeling that if Roger Federer, right, cannot win the French Open now that nemesis Rafael Nadal is out, his chances of winning two more majors and breaking Pete Sampras’ record of 14 might never happen. You just know that Nadal is going to be loaded for bear at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
3. Is anyone interested in the Belmont now that Rachel Alexandra has dropped out of the race?
[CHRIS ZUPPA (Rays fan), DIRK SHADD (Super Bowl), BRIAN CASSELLA (Jon Gruden)]