So here we are in August. And the sports world is in high gear. Baseball pennant races are followed as closely as that dude tailgating you on the Howard Frankland during rush hour. Interesting things are happening with personnel in the NBA, Shaq sporting Celtic green being the latest. And football training camps are holding two-a-days of blood, sweat and speculation.
I’ve been a Bucs fan since the beginning. The very beginning. My family had season tickets for the first season. Yep – I watched every single home loss that year in bright ‘70s Technicolor. And I was there, thanks to an extra ticket from my elementary BFF, for the first home win over the St. Louis Cardinals. My loyalty for my hometown team has never wavered since – although more often than not I refer to them as the Stupid Bucs. It’s a term of endearment. Promise.
The Bo Jackson debacle? I watched it unfold. Bo knew how to break a community’s heart. I shed tears when I heard that Ricky Bell had died. Cheered for Donald Igwebuike like it was my job. Learned more than I ever wanted to about Vinny Testaverde from his then-hairstylist, who was my seat partner on a flight from Denver to Tampa. And no one was happier than I was when the team evolved into a contender in the late ‘90s. Good times, good times.
The Bucs, for better or worse, are my team. We are in a long-term relationship that shows no signs of changing. I’m still mad at them for releasing John Lynch (salary cap, schamlary cap) and for how Derrick Brooks was unceremoniously let go (don’t get me started…). But come Sunday in season (since we don’t seem to play on any other day at the moment) I will cheer for the Pewter Pirates. Partly out of habit. Mostly because I want to.
With the opening of training camp each year, hope for the fall springs eternal. And I usually have some things I personally want to see the team accomplish.
This year, my wish for the Bucs is very simple: Don’t totally suck.
How’s that for managing expectations?
The team is young. By design. And I appreciate this personnel strategy. There’s potential to be certain, but I’m not sure that 2010 is the year in which it will be fully realized. That’s fine – it’s to be expected. All I ask is for the flashes of brilliance to appear with some regularity and for the team to play somewhat competitively and with heart. Sure, there are some specifics I’d like to see: Cadillac Williams to stay healthy. Josh Freeman to develop as an on-the-field leader and to hone some chemistry with his receiving corps. Gerald McCoy to get the hang of things sooner rather than later. Barrett Ruud to play moderately happy.
I don’t expect the Bucs to be in the thick of things in the NFC South. That’s OK. There’s time enough for that in the next couple of years. This is the season just not to completely suck. Please.