With only nine games left in the Major League Baseball season, the Tampa Bay Rays are clinging to postseason life with the newly created second Wild Card berth. At three and a half games back, it seems unlikely that the Rays will make the postseason, though not mathematically impossible. But like all cities, as hope begins to dwindle, the town begins to aim its focus on the next sport and while the NFL season is in full swing, at this point the NHL preseason would also be in full-effect.
Tampa Bay fans were reminded of the NHL lockout on Friday night, when the team invited Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher to throw out the first pitch as the Rays took on the Toronto Blue Jays. Boucher certainly didn’t disappoint, delivering a unique pitch for the longstanding baseball tradition.
Boucher – who donned a No. 7 Rays jersey – sent a perfect strike to Tampa Bay catcher Stephen Vogt, who had on a hockey stick and a goalie-style mask. He even guarded the plate like a goaltender. But the pitch didn’t come from the Lightning coach’s hand; instead it came from a hockey stick.
See it for yourself:
It was all done to honor the Lightning’s 20th anniversary, as part of Lightning night. After the pitch, Boucher spoke to the Tampa Tribune but it wasn’t about his impressive pitch but rather about the NHL lockout, which took effect last weekend – with the preseason having already been cancelled.
“I think there is good will on both sides and I’m sure they will find a way,” said Boucher. “Hopefully it’s quick, and if it’s quick, we haven’t lost much right now. . . . I have faith in the players and the owners that they will find a way.”
Now we know why Lightning forward Steven Stamkos led the NHL in goals last season. Well, if the Rays are looking for a lefty out of the bullpen next spring then Boucher might just be their man.
Ed is the lead hockey writer and a sports contributor for CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @PhillyEdMiller, and subscribe on Facebook @ CraveOnlineSports.
Photo Credit: Getty