It’s safe to say it’s been quite a year for sports in the Tampa Bay area as the Bolts brought home the Stanley Cup for the first time since 2004 and the Rays put up a valiant fight in their first World Series berth in 12 years.
And others took notice as both teams won big at the Sports Illustrated Awards Saturday night.
First up was Stamkos, who took home the 2020 Play of the Year award for his goal in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final. The game marked the team captain’s return to the ice for the first time in months after suffering from an injury—and he didn’t disappoint.
Within the first seven minutes of the first period, Stamkos found the back of the goal. To fans, it seemed like no time had passed since he last battled it out on the ice for the Bolts. But for him, it was a long time coming.
“I’m not a huge believer of those meant to be moments, but that was truly one of those moments for me. Scoring that goal was obviously the most memorable goal of my career. But it just meant so much, not only for me and my teammates but my friends and family,” Stamkos said while accepting the award.
The goal is something Bolts fans will not forget anytime soon.
Then there’s the Rays performance in Game 4 of the World Series and the heroics of hometown hero Brett Phillips that led to an exciting walk-off win.
If you didn’t watch, let’s set the scene:
It's the 9th inning and there are runners on first and second for the Rays. Phillips steps up to bat and is facing a 1-2 count when he rips one to center field where the Dodgers bobble the ball.
Kevin Kiermaier makes it home and Randy Arozarena is trucking right behind him, hoping to be the game-winning run...but then he stumbles as it appears the ball is going to beat him to home plate.
That should be it, right? Wrong.
The ball gets away and Arozarena slides headfirst into home plate. And the Rays win.
And that sports fans is why this year’s Game of the Year award went to Phillips and the Rays.
“I just had this weird calmness about me and you know all the confidence in the world that I was going to get the job done,” Phillips said about the moment.
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