Category: Tampa Bay

Despite Sold Out Stadiums, Tampa Bay Rays Will Get Limited Public Support

Spring training has returned to Tampa, which means that is is time to once again enjoy the spoils of being home to the Grapefruit League. On Sunday, April 2, the Tampa Bay Rays will host the New York Yankees for Opening Day. The first pitch is scheduled to be thrown at 1:10 p.m.


As expected, tickets to this game at Tropicana Stadium sold out rather quickly. Selling out early for Opening Day is a Tampa tradition that dates back more than 10 years, however, this type of public support will no longer apply to building new stadiums.


According to various news reports coming from Tallahassee, the Florida House of Representatives has voted against the use of public land resources for the purpose of funding stadiums for professional sports franchises. In other words, the Tampa Bay Rays’ search for a new stadium will not end up like the situation with the Miami Marlins a few years ago.


The Marlins were able to secure more than $400 million for the construction of their very own baseball park, but these funds came from a free loan originating from municipal bonds. In other words, Marlins Park will be completed with a chunk of taxpayer’s funds.


Florida House Bill 77 prohibits professional teams such as the Tampa Bay Rays to get public funding like the Marlins were able to secure in 2009. The bill passed by a wide margin of 82 votes in favor and just 33 against.


Critics of the bill complained that it places obstacles to economic growth in the Sunshine State. Aside from the Tampa Bay Rays, the Rowdies soccer team will also be affected by the measure. Rowdies owner Bill Edwards was seeking $80 million to convert Al Lang Stadium in nearby Saint Petersburg into a Major League Soccer venue. It so happens that Tampa is an adequate market for soccer, but Edwards will now have to spend more time looking for private sources of funding.


In the meantime, enthusiasm for the Tampa Bay Rays is not winning as local fans expect that their favorite baseball team will prevail against the legendary Yankees on Opening Day.


Jonny Venters Returns to Tampa Bay Baseball Organization

The Tampa Bay Rays in the Eastern division of the American League open their 2017 campaign on April 2 against the New York Yankees. Left-handed pitcher Jonny Venters will be with the Ray’s organization at the start of the season, but not in Tampa. He recently signed a minor league contract with the Tampa club.


At this point, the highlight of Venters’s career has been with the Atlanta Braves during 2010 to 2011. From the bullpen, he owned a 1.89 ERA and pitched 171 innings. In 2012, Venters injured his elbow and endured his second Tommy John surgery. While going through rehabilitation for that injury, he was injured again and required an additional surgery.


This is not Venters first venture with the Rays. In March of 2015, Tampa signed Venters as he was returning to baseball after his third Tommy John surgery. By mid-June of 2016, his pitch velocity was up to the middle 90s, and Venters pitched his first professional ballgame in four years on June 4, 2016. This comeback did not endure. In the course of his fifth appearance of the 2016 season, he had to leave the game with a torn UCL.


According to Baseball Reference, during Tommy Johns surgery the medial elbow ligament is replaced with a tendon from another part of the patient’s body or from a cadaver. The procedure is named after Tommy John, a major league pitcher and the first ball player to undergo the surgery. Prior to the development of the technique, pitchers were just noted to have a “dead arm” when their pitches no longer had the velocity from prior years. There is some disagreement in baseball circles if it is the speed of the pitches or the types of pitches thrown that result in a pitcher needing surgery.



The formidable Pasco’s Jordyn Kadlub

The postseason of the high school girls’ soccer has commenced with the beginning of the region play. The cost of the admission is just $7 for a game based on the talent of the Tampa Bay of the players such as Pasco High’s Jordyn Kadlub. There are major reasons why fans should come out in large numbers to watch the sophomore and her counterparts play.


One of the most important reason is that she has scored more than 50 goals under her name. The 50 goals are the 18 games, the figure that put her among the top five in the state. According to the MaxPreps, she is averaging about hat trick per matchup and still, she hasn’t come close to the number of her freshman of 58 goals. Incase Pasco manages to extend the post season she might beat the record that was set by the Ridgewood’s Melissa Wells in the season of 1990-91. She says that she plays for fun. She noted that this season has been terrific for her and her teammates since they managed to play all their games without losing.


Whenever Kadlub is playing there is a high possibility of her scoring a hat trick, this is another reason to draw the fans out to come and watch her play. For example during the district semifinal where they were pitted against Weeki Waache, she scored a hat trick and this was during the first half. Though the striker had four goals during this particular match, this was not the best performance of the season so far. She scored 7 goals against Zephyrhills, the match ended 8-0 this was in November. The Pasco coach notes that the way she plays is unique, whenever she sees an opportunity she takes it, she does not let it slip away.


Unlike other players who focus on a single game, Kedlub has plays two different sport games. Soccer is not her best, she plays softball as a pitcher. Even sports expert wonder how would one manage to be successful in two games at once. She has had 88 strikeouts in 101 as a freshman she manages all this in 101 innings. She says that she will decide later what game is for her in the future, but right now she just want to have fun.


The Field Goal Kick That Landed a Win for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Monday’s night NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Carolina Panthers started with both teams holding one and three records. By fourth quarter Business Insider reported the teams were tied 14 and 14 until Buccaneers’ rookie kicker, Roberto Aquayo kicked the football straight down the middle of the field landing a win for the team. It was the best play performance for the rookie who had missed two previous kicks in the second quarter and fourth quarter.



Aquayo never missed a kick while playing for Florida State University inside 40 yards, but is struggling on the Bucs team. His struggles turned into victory after his team players provided him support on the sidelines right before the winning kick of the day. Thus far Aquayo has a field goal kicking record of four of eight for the season.



Preseason was difficult for the rookie kicker in the beginning after missing two field goals and an effort to kick the extra point field goal in the first and second week. By the end of the final two weeks of preseason, Aquayo was five for five. He finished the preseason with eight of 10 field goals.



Buccaneers coach, Dirk Koetter spoke to ESPN and said that he has concerns about the rookie kicker when most kickers are able to make goals inside of 50 yards when the weather permits. The first missing kick Aquayo made was during the second quarter which was 33 yards out. This happened at Carolina 30-yard line after Russell Shepard recovered Ted Ginn Jr.’s punt. The second missed field goal happened in the fourth quarter after Brent Grimes made a touchdown interception in the end-zone.



Coach Koetter applauded the Buccaneers team players who encouraged Roberto Aquayo on the sideline before the field goal kick. The team support and power actions of defense to get the ball back and Jameis Winston leading the offense gave him another opportunity to make a field goal. Koetter continues to have concerns about the rookie after a loss to Los Angeles Rams two weeks ago. He missed a 41-yard field goal which would have given the Buccaneers the lead. Koetter is pleased with the overall performance of the NFL team and the winning field goal.


Four Tampa Bay Buccaneer Players Receive Injuries After Last Week’s Game Against the Cardinals

Last Sunday’s NFL football game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ad Arizona Cardinals left Buccaneer players Doug Martin, Robert Ayers, Cecil Shorts III and Donovan Smith with injuries. During the first half of last week’s game, Martin injured his right hamstring which will leave him sidelined over a three-week period. Other players received bodily injuries, including Ayers and Stocker ankle injuries and Smith injury to his hip. The players maybe injured but the Buccaneers Coach Dirk Koetter is confident in the team and believes they have what it takes to win this Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Rams. Yahoo Sports reported Charles Sims and Jacquizz Rodgers are expected to replace Martin for the next three weeks or until he fully recovers.



Rodgers showcased his skills during the game against the Cardinals by breaking a 24-yard run and finishing with 29 yards on two efforts, the best for the Buccaneers. Sims also proved his abilities by rushing 529 yards and gaining another 561 yards on 51 receptions that gave the team a huge push. The Buccaneers worked hard the whole week to face the Rams on Sunday. Coach Koetter admitted he has some concerns involving offense now that Martin is sidelined for a few weeks.



Doug Martin received recognition as the NFL’s second leading rusher when he ran for 1,402 yards and scored six touchdowns. He recently signed a five-year contract in the amount of $35 million during off-season. While Martin heals from his hamstring injuries, it is obvious the Buccaneers may encounter some challenges during this Sunday’s game against the Rams.



Rodgers and Sims had to prove themselves during practice, but who will officially replace Martin is unknown. Coach Koetter is careful about disclosing information about the upcoming game against the Rams. The Buccaneers and Rams share the same record with one win and one lost each.



The Buccaneers and Coach Dirk Koetter are self-assured the team players are prepared to overcome challenges when playing against the Rams. The injuries of the leading rusher, defensive end, receiver and left tackle players will not leave the Bucs helpless. Other team players have their backs and plan to defeat the Rams this Sunday’s game.

Linemen Get the Knack, Questions Get on Track, Will Jacquizz Be Back?

At Bucs GM Jason Licht’s press conference, questions came up about young offensive linemen learning the spread offense. Can prospects really develop in a pro-style offense? Can coaches tell if they’re developing? Some people say no. Licht said, “That theory has been going around for a while now.”


But, although it may be difficult to evaluate young players in a spread offense, he said it can be done. “It makes it a little more challenging to look for an offensive lineman or see him in positions that we ask for in our offense,” Licht commented, “but it still boils down to: you want an athletic guy, you want a guy that has strength and power, is smart, has good movement.” If you have these things, Licht added, you may have to see players develop a little at a time, but you can still see it.


The Bucs have been hard at work scouting players at the combine, and Licht was asked what kind of questions are posed to prospects there. Licht said they’re all tailored to the individual. Scouts can conduct 15-minute interviews with all 60 combine players, and probably no two sets of questions will match; the questions are based on careful research done on each prospect. “Our scouts spend a lot of time and do an amazing job gathering information on every player,” Licht said.


Finally, is Doug Martin’s talented fill-in Jacquizz Rodgers coming back? Last year, Rodgers led the team in rushing with 560 yards. He averaged 4.3 yards per carry and scored 2 touchdowns. He also totaled 98 yards in receptions “We really like Jacquizz,” Licht said. “In an ideal situation, we’d love to have Jacquizz back.”


Chris Archer Ready to Bounce Back in 2017:

2015 was a promising year for Chris Archer. Despite a 12-13 record, he posted a 3.23 ERA and fanned 252 batters. Tampa Bay saw a lot of upside in the young right-hander, who perhaps could be the staff ace in the near future.


Then came 2016, and the bottom fell out on Archer. He endured a horrific summer, going 2-11 over 14 starts. He ended the season with only nine wins and led the American League with 19 losses. His ERA ballooned to 4.02, while the Rays finished in the AL East cellar at 68-94.


Despite those poor numbers, Archer remains upbeat in spring training. He points to the adjustments in his approach and intent on the mound he made in the second half of 2016 that helped him to an ERA of 3.62 in his final 23 starts. Archer also said he does not get upset when people say he had a terrible 2016 as he is confident in his abilities and feels his teammates know how much work he puts into his game. Your text to link…


Archer has some unusual inspiration for believing 2017 will be a bounce back year for him. It is none other than President Donald Trump. Archer said Trump did not have the best reputation going into the presidential campaign, but defied the odds and won the election. That showed him, “This is America. Literally anything can happen.”


The Rays have done some retooling this year, with their biggest additions being power hitting catcher Wilson Ramos and speedy outfielder Mallex Smith. Still, if Tampa Bay expects to contend in the tough American League Eastern Division, Archer will have to become the ace both the team and the fans expect him to be.


Bucs Are Looking to Buck Up Their WR Roster

This year, teams are looking for wide receivers, especially big playmakers with explosive speed. The Bucs are no exception, and they’ll be carefully checking out the 60 wideouts invited to the Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium.


Head coach Dirk Koetter will not only be scouting the Combine, but also free agent wide receivers that will be coming onto the market. He said he feels that Tampa Bay could have advanced into the playoffs with more options for Jameis Winston to throw to. “Not to say that we don’t like the players that we already have,” he said, “but you can always have more.”


Although the Bucs have Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson, Cameron Brate and Adam Hayward, Tampa Bay is not a bad place for a wideout to land. Jameis Winston has thrown 50 touchdowns and totaled 8,000 yards in two seasons, and he’s only 23 years old. He’ll be a career maker for some receivers. Besides, he needs more targets to take pressure off the receiving corps and slow and confuse defenses. Last year, Tampa Bay ranked 29th in the league in overall yards after catch and 31st in average yards after catch per reception.


Mike Williams from Clemson, John Ross from Washington and Corey Davis from Western Michigan are all players the Bucs might be interested in. All three are expected to be drafted in the first round. The Bucs might also reach out to some wide receivers that are listed among the NFL’s top 25 free agents this year. The Bears’ Alshon Jeffery, the Giants’ Victor Cruz, Washington’s DeSean Jackson and the Jets’ Brandon Marshall may all be testing the market


What about Tampa Bay’s own free agent wide receiver Vincent Jackson? Koetter said he has a right to look elsewhere like anyone else. But both he and Tampa Bay GM Jason Licht made it clear they would be happy if Vincent Jackson stayed. Licht said, “We’ll always want Vincent to be around the organization.”


There’s more reason for optimism because Tampa Bay’s receiving corps is young. “Guys improve, and we believe in player development,” Koetter said.



Gators Basketball Coach Named Finalist for Coach of the Year

Thanks to a great season so far, the Florida Gators are ranked No. 12 are are poised to finish strong in the NCAA tournament. Their coach, Mike White, was recently named a semifinalist for the Naismith Coach of the Year award.


There are 10 semifinalists for the prestigious recognition. The other head coaches on the list are from Northwestern, Baylor, Gonzaga, West Virginia, SMU, Arizona, Louisville, Kansas, and Villanova. The finalists will be named on March 16.


White became coach at the University of Florida in 2015, replacing Billy Donovan. He previously head positions at Louisiana Tech as head coach, at Ole Miss as assistant coach, and at Jacksonville State as assistant coach. He was a basketball player at Ole Miss from 1995 to 1999, where he played point guard. He briefly played at the professional level in England and with the now-defunct International Basketball League, which was based in the US.


He’s known for building strong relationships with his players and for developing his players’ leadership abilities. This season, he has encouraged players to step up and take responsibility for their team’s performance. His players have held team meetings, in which only players were invited, to discuss how they could get things right in future games.


The Gators are currently 24 – 6 and have turned things around after losing to Vanderbilt, who they were heavily favored to beat. In the SEC, they have posted a record of 14 – 3. This is just one year after finishing in the middle of the pack at 21 – 15. Up ahead is a repeat game against Vanderbilt, followed by the SEC conference tournament the second week of March and the NCAA tournament later in the month.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers Evaluate NFL Free Agents

After a 2016 season that was not very convincing to local football fans, the ampa Bay Buccaneers are weighing their options with regard to available free agents. According to Cameron DaSilva of Fox Sports, the Buccaneers have more than $65 million in salary cap space, which means that they have the means to develop a competitive roster for the upcoming season.


DaSilva has proposed five free agents that could be a good fit in Tampa while Martin Fennelly of the Tampa Bay Times has mentioned a few names that the Bucs should steer clear from. One big name that Fennelly believes would not be a good fit is superstar running back Adrian Peterson, who is getting up there in terms of age, and that the team is better off investing in players who can hold the offensive line and safety spots.


Here are the names proposed by DaSilva:


Martellus Bennett, Tight End


Here is a player who has matured and vastly improved in just two seasons with the New England Patriots, a team that proved the importance of the tight end position in the last Super Bowl. The NFL is once again a passing league who needs strong catchers.


William Gholston, Defensive End


He has played well with the Bucs, why not resign him? The grapevine on this veteran is that he feels comfortable in Tampa and may not ask for a big contract as long as he is paired with good incoming rookies.


Tony Jefferson, Safety


Here is a safety who has played extremely well with the Cardinals and who may be looking to boost his career with the right signing. Jefferson plays the safety position with the mind of a playmaker; should the Bucs venture into signing him, they will have to make an attractive offer.


Kenny Stills, Wide Receiver


The Miami Dolphins had a great season thanks in part to this wide receiver who is looking for a new team that can make him a franchise player.


Prince Amukarama, Corner Back


Defense can always be improved in Tampa, and this is one of the best free agents the Bucs could hope for.