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David Price's Cy Young Award joins short list of Tampa Bay honors

David Price basks in the moment after being announced as the first Cy Young Award winner in Tampa Bay Rays history.

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

David Price basks in the moment after being announced as the first Cy Young Award winner in Tampa Bay Rays history.

Rays ace David Price picked up one of the greatest honors in sports on Wednesday, winning the American League Cy Young Award, handed out annually to the league's best pitcher.

Counting the Bucs, Lightning and Rays, there have been 70 total seasons dating to 1976. In that time, Price's Cy Young is only the 13th major regular-season or postseason award won by a Tampa Bay player in one of the big North American sports. (No, we don't consider the NHL's Lady Byng to be a major award.)

So where does Price's Cy Young rank on the list of major awards won by Tampa Bay athletes? Here's one opinion.

1. Marty St. Louis, Lightning

Hart Trophy, 2003-04

Picking the greatest individual award in Tampa Bay sports history is a no-brainer. You can't do better than the best player in the league. Not only was St. Louis the best player and leading scorer on the league's best team during the 2003-04 season, he was awarded the Hart Trophy, given to the MVP in the NHL. St. Louis remains the only Tampa Bay player to be named his sport's regular-season MVP.

2. Derrick Brooks, Bucs

NFL defensive player of the year, 2002

This was the crowning year of Brooks' marvelous career. The 2002 Bucs were the NFL's No. 1 defense, and that Super Bowl-winning defense was led by the linebacker out of FSU. Brooks set an NFL record for linebackers with five touchdowns — three off interceptions and two off fumbles. I thought about putting Price at No. 2, but there's more competition for this award.

3. David Price, Rays

AL Cy Young, 2012

The fact that this is third isn't meant to diminish what Price did or the Cy Young Award itself, but it's merely a testament to just how impressive the accomplishments of St. Louis and Brooks were. And, well, you do have to consider this: There are two Cy Young Awards each season. Price won his award against half of Major League Baseball's pitchers. St. Louis and Brooks had to win against their entire leagues. Still, a Cy Young is a special award and rarely does it ever go to a less-than-elite pitcher.

4. Joe Maddon, Rays

AL manager of the year, 2008

I hesitated to put Maddon this high because, after all, he didn't swing a bat or throw a pitch during the 2008 season. But the Rays' turnaround from worst-to-first was due, in large part, to the masterful managing and leadership of Maddon. The Rays had never won 70 games in a season and were coming off a 66-96 campaign when Maddon skippered the Rays to 97 victories and a trip to the World Series. Don't forget just how stunning that 2008 season was.

5. Lee Roy Selmon, Bucs

NFL defensive player of the year, 1979 6. Warren Sapp, Bucs

NFL defensive player of the year, 1999

The choice to put Selmon's one slot ahead of Sapp's was simple. Selmon didn't have as many great players around him as Sapp did.

7. Brad Richards, Lightning

Conn Smythe Award, 2004

Because of the gruelling two-month marathon that is the Stanley Cup playoffs, no trophy in sports is tougher to win. To be the best player of that two-month grind is an exceptional accomplishment and traditionally reserved for only the game's star players.

8. Evan Longoria, Rays

AL rookie of the year, 2008

9. Jeremy Hellickson, Rays

AL rookie of the year, 2011

Some of the all-time great players have won rookie of the year awards, such as Cal Ripken, Frank Robinson and Willie Mays. But it has also been won by forgettable players such as Jerome Walton, Ben Grieve and Pat Listach. Here's the thing about rookie of the year awards: The competition isn't that deep. There aren't that many rookies to begin with and only a handful make the kind of impact worthy of consideration.

10. John Tortorella, Lightning

Jack Adams Award, 2003-04

A respectable award, to be sure, given to the NHL's coach of the year. But Tortorella's best work was the season before, taking the Lightning to the playoffs for the first time in seven years. The Stanley Cup year was merely a continuation of a job well done.

11. Joe Maddon, Rays

AL manager of the year, 2011

Maddon leading the Rays back from an 0-6 start and nine-game deficit in September was impressive, but he already had a pretty good team and had won this award just three years earlier.

12. Cadillac Williams, Bucs

AP offensive rookie of the year, 2005

Why so low? Honestly, how many offensive rookies of the year can you name in NFL history? I debated even counting this as a major award.

13. Matt Garza, Rays

ALCS MVP, 2008

Garza's ALCS MVP was well-deserved — 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA, including a Game 7 victory — but he is last on this particular list because his award was won for just two games.

David Price's Cy Young Award joins short list of Tampa Bay honors 11/14/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 11:25pm]
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