Where does Garza's No-Hitter rank in Tampa's Greatest Sports Moments?

Started arguing this issue with my brother as we walked outside the Trop.  The top two moments are pretty obvious, but everything from Moment Number Three on down are up for debate...

1) Derrick Brooks' INT of Rich Gannon to clinch Super Bowl XXXVII vs. Oakland.  Every town with multiple pro sporting leagues (plus top-tier collegiate sports) will have one sport predominantly favored over the others (New York will be Yankeetown always, Pittsburgh is Steeler Country, Detroit loves their hockey).  In Tampa, the Bucs came first and for all the love and hate, the Tampa Bay metro lives and dies with our Bucs.  For Tampa Bay to win the Super Bowl, and with one of our more beloved players making the key play, this is a no-brainer NUMBER ONE MOMENT IN TAMPA SPORTS HISTORY.

2) Tampa Bay Lightning wins the 2004 Stanley Cup.  Yeah, yeah, hockey in Florida blah blah.  Don't forget that the Lightning have a solid and dedicated fanbase even with all the franchise woes.  And winning a sports title is a BIG DEAL, especially when said trophy (the Stanley Cup) is one of the most cherished and traditional in all sports.  Bonus points for beating a Canadian team and making Canadian hockey fans suffer a bit longer. :)

3) Matt Garza pitches a No-Hitter at the Trop.  This is where the debate begins.  I say that Garza's No-Hitter goes here because A) a No-Hitter is statistically hard to get, B) highlights the pitching and defensive talents of the 2010 Rays lineup, C) few other things get national attention outside of a No-Hit game, D) This was huge for the fans in attendance, and may yet help boost the meager attendance the team doesn't deserve ("Hey guys, let's go to a Rays game!  You never know, we might see a No-No again!").

4) Ronde Barber's INT pretty much at the goal line, returning it for a TD against Philly to secure a trip to the Super Bowl.  My brother argues this is bigger than Garza's No-Hit.  It secured the Bucs' first NFC Championship title, first trip to the Super Bowl ever, and ended all that talk about the Bucs' poor play in cold weather.

5) Michael Spurlock.  First Bucs Kickoff TD ever.  How huge was this?  The entire nation knew about the KO drought.  Every time the Bucs were lined up for a return, the TV announcers would joke about it.  Someone started up a website three weeks earlier dedicated to the kickoff jinx (guy turned it into a Spurlock tribute site... I can't find the site now).  I'm pretty sure retired sportswriter Tom McEwen turned to the guys sitting with him in the pressbox and said "I can die now."

6) Aki makes the catch and tags Second Base to defeat the BoSox, and the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays go to their first ever World Series.  The 2008 season itself is remarkable in that it was the first time since realignment that a team other than the Yankees or Red Sox had won the AL East banner.  If the Rays had won the World Series I'm pretty sure there would have been a bigger game moment and would be placed at Number 2).

7) St. Petersburg and the Trop host the 1999 Men's Basketball Final Four.

8) Tampa Bay Storm defeat cross-state rivals Orlando Predators in 1995's Arena Bowl IX.

9) The Bucs defeat Kansas City 3-0 in a rainstorm to clinch their first division title (NFC Central 1979) and their first playoff appearance.  Worst to First (almost, damn you Rams!)

10) Doug Williams throws a TD bomb to Kevin House to upset the Detroit Lions in their stadium (until then the Lions were unbeaten there) and secure the Bucs' second NFC Central title and playoff appearance.

I'm pretty sure I missed other great moments in Sports History in the Tampa Bay metro, but those are the top ones I got.

This post was written by a member of the DRaysBay community and does not necessarily express the views or opinions of DRaysBay staff.

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