Tom Brady move adds new wrinkle to Boston-Tampa Bay rivalry

NHL News

With quarterback Tom Brady deciding to leave New England after 20 seasons for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it got us to thinking of a unique sports rivalry that has been brewing in recent years between the Boston-area professional sports teams and the folks from down south.

In Brady’s four career starts against the Buccaneers, the Patriots went 4-0 outscoring Tampa Bay 105-24. The plus-20.3 average point difference is his highest against any single opponent he’s started against in his career.

In the Buccaneers 1976 inaugural season, they “clinched” an 0-14 season with a 31-14 loss at home to the Patriots on December 12. Tampa Bay led 14-7 at halftime but gave up 24 second-half points en route to becoming the first team to play an entire 14-game season without a win or tie.

Bill Belichick’s first game as Patriots coach came against the Buccaneers on September 3, 2000. The Buccaneers didn’t give up an offensive touchdown until there was just over three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and hung on for a 21-16 victory. New England would go 5-11 that season while Tampa Bay went 10-6 and lost in the wild-card round.

The Tampa Bay-Boston rivalry has been heated in other pro sports. Look no further than the matchups between the Rays and Red Sox.

    • August 29, 2000: Pedro Martínez hits Gerald Williams in the arm. Williams took a couple of steps towards first base but then sprinted and charged the mound, starting a bench-clearing brawl. The melee didn’t bother Martínez, who ended up pitching a one-hit shutout.

    • May 5, 2002: Trot Nixon’s bat “slips” out of his hands and flies past Rays pitcher Ryan Rupe, who had plunked Nomar Garciaparra and Shea Hillenbrand earlier in the game.

    • April 24, 2005: Rays starter Lance Carter throws behind Manny Ramírez, who actually drills a home run in the same at-bat. Carter then throws a pitch over the head of David Ortíz, which emptied the benches.

    • March 27, 2006: Julián Tavárez gets suspended 10 games for getting into a fight with Joey Gathright during a spring training game.

    • June 5, 2008: James Shields throws at Coco Crisp, who had slid hard into Akinori Iwamura while trying to steal second base the previous day. Crisp charged the mound and with both players almost connecting on punches before the benches cleared.

    • July 29, 2013: The rivalry extends to Twitter as the Rays feed tweets “Dear @RedSox scoreboard operator — your standings are wrong. Yours truly, @Raysbaseball”. To which the Red Sox responded, “Don’t worry @raysbaseball we look forward to seeing you in Tampa in September for our home games at the Trop.”

    • May 25, 2014: Yunel Escobar, Sean Rodriguez and Jonny Gomes are ejected when benches clear after Escobar steals third base with a five-run lead.

  • May 30, 2014: David Ortíz gets hit by a pitch from David Price. Later in the game, both benches clear after Mike Carp is hit by a pitch from Price, and Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo is ejected Ortiz said after the game “First at-bat of the season against him, he drilled me,” Ortiz said. “That’s means it’s a war. It’s on. Next time he hits me, he better bring the gloves on. I have no respect for him no more.”

  • July 27, 2014: Ortíz drills a home run off Todd Archer and tosses his bat and took his time around the bases. Archer said after the game Ortíz “feels like he’s bigger than the game.” To which Ortíz responded “Whatever, dude. There’s always going to be comments out there. He’s not the right guy to be saying that, I don’t think. He’s got two days in the league, [shouldn’t] be (expletive) and complaining about (expletive) like that.”

The two teams have met in the postseason, with each winning once. First, the Rays won a dramatic seven-game ALCS in 2008 to advance to their first World Series. Tampa Bay nearly blew a 3-1 series lead, losing Games 5 and 6 before winning Game 7 when David Price came out of the bullpen to preserve the 3-1 win. In 2013, the Red Sox exacted revenge on the Rays, with a 3-1 series victory in the ALDS. Boston would go on to win the World Series for the third time since 2004.

On the ice, the Boston BruinsTampa Bay Lightning has been on fire lately. Shortly before the NHL paused the season because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Lightning won 5-3 over the Bruins on March 7 in a game that saw the teams combine for 94 minutes in penalties, including a fight between Chris Wagner (Bruins) and Barclay Goodrow (Lightning) that happened right after they got out of the penalty box after serving minors for unsportsmanlike conduct.

The teams have met in the playoffs twice. In 2011, they faced off in an seven-game Eastern Conference finals series. In a dramatic Game 7, Steven Stamkos left the game initially after taking a puck to the face. He would return with a full face shield with gauze shoved up his nose and two black eyes. In a tense game, the only goal was scored at 12:27 of the third period when Nathan Horton tipped in a pass from David Krejci past Lightning goalie Dwayne Roloson. Boston hung on for the 1-0 win to advance to its first Stanley Cup final since 1990.

In the second round of the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs, the Lightning took care of business against the Bruins in five games, winning four straight after dropping the series opener. The highlight of the series came in Game 4 when Boston’s Brad Marchand appeared to have licked the face of Ryan Callahan and was not penalized in the game or disciplined by the league. After a controversial game-tying goal by Stamkos, the Lightning would win in overtime on Dan Girardi’s goal.

While Brady and the Buccaneers won’t face the Patriots in 2020, there’s still been enough acrimony in other sports to show that this rivalry between cities roughly 1,300 miles apart might be reaching new heights.

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