Looking back, it shouldn't surprise anyone that Carl Crawford caught a ball. Or, for that matter, a bat.
After all, Tampa Bay athletes have been bringing home one piece of hardware after another for most of the past decade.
Let's see. In the communal trophy case, there is a Lombardi Trophy, a Stanley Cup and a William Harridge (American League Championship) Trophy. Also, there have been season MVPs and playoff MVPs. There have been rookies of the year and coaches of the year. There have been humanitarian awards, scoring awards, defensive awards. And now, Crawford has that glass bat that represents winning the MVP from Tuesday night's All-Star Game.
So where does Crawford's award rank among the individual awards of Tampa Bay's professional teams? Perhaps not as high as you think, which perhaps says more about other athletes than it does Crawford.
Here is a ranking of the top individual awards in Tampa Bay history. And note: It doesn't count if a former Tampa Bay athlete wins something big playing for another team (like Doug Williams being MVP of Super Bowl XXII) or a current one playing for someone else (like Vinny Lecavalier winning MVP of the World Cup while playing with the Canadian national team).
1 Lee Roy Selmon, Bucs, 1995 Hall of Fame electee: Think of it like this: Whatever else a local athlete has won, he'd trade it for entrance into the Hall of Fame of his sport. Selmon accomplished it despite a shortened career, and despite the fallen image of the franchise by the time of his induction. (Note: Former Ray Wade Boggs was voted into the Hall of Fame in 2005, but since most of his numbers came elsewhere, he did not make our Top 10.)
2 Marty St. Louis, Lightning, 2003-04, NHL MVP: No other Tampa Bay athlete has won a seasonal award as impressive as St. Louis' Hart Trophy, earned for scoring a league-leading 94 points as the Lightning won the Stanley Cup.
3 Derrick Brooks, Bucs, 2002 NFL defensive player of the year: It was Brooks' best season. It was the defense's best season. Most of all, it was the Bucs' best season. There is no better way to remember Brooks than streaking downfield with a championship-clinching interception for a touchdown, the fourth time he did that in 2002.
4 Brad Richards, Lightning, 2003-04 NHL playoff MVP: Granted, it's usually more impressive to win a season-long award than one for a shorter postseason. But when Richards won the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the playoffs, it was for a 23-game grind. Richards scored 12 goals in those playoffs, including seven game-winners.
5 Warren Sapp, Bucs, 1999 NFL defensive player of the year: By this point in his career, Sapp had already made the Pro Bowl twice. This, however, was the year the world caught onto Sapp, who had 12½ sacks as a defensive tackle. The defense carried the Bucs as far as the NFC Championship Game, but Tampa Bay lost 11-6.
6 Selmon, Bucs, 1979 NFL defensive player of the year: Until the last decade, this was pretty much it for Tampa Bay. Selmon had 11 sacks in '79, the second-highest total of his career. The Bucs defense was the best in the NFL that year, and it held the Rams without a touchdown in a 9-0 loss in the NFC title game.
7 Matt Garza, Rays, 2008 ALCS MVP: Garza won the biggest game in Rays history when he shut down the Red Sox, 3-1, in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series in October. For the series, Garza was 2-0 with an ERA of 1.38.
8 Crawford, Rays, 2009 All-Star Game MVP: It was the bottom of the seventh when Crawford became a part of the highlight package for the next 50 All-Star Games. Pretty cool, huh? In all, what Crawford did was snatch a run from the scoreboard, the MVP from someone else's hands and an even sweeter deal when his next contract comes around. By comparison, Brooks winning the MVP of the 2005 Pro Bowl doesn't quite stack up, does it?
9 John Tortorella, Lightning, 2003-04 NHL coach of the year: Torts would tell you it's all about players, but we know better. It was Torts who turned things around for the Lightning franchise, and when it won the championship, all yaps were open. Joe Maddon's manager of the year award last year was impressive, too, but Torts' team won the title. Strangely, neither Tony Dungy nor Jon Gruden won a major NFL coach of the year award.
10 Dexter Jackson, Bucs, Super Bowl XXXVII MVP: How can Jackson be this far down? Simple. He shouldn't have won. Simeon Rice, Michael Pittman and Brooks had better games. But Jackson was smart enough to get his interceptions in before the voting deadline.