YBOR CITY, FL – Here in Tampa Bay’s Latin Quarter, it pours rain as hard as we’ve ever seen for 15 minutes at a time and then stops as suddenly as it started, allowing for a Sun-drenched setting that warms the heart and allows women to wear really short shorts. Then there’s the Mardi Gras-like atmosphere of  the main drag through this section of town that rivals anything New Orleans has to offer. Red brick buildings, wrought iron balconies and narrow brick streets give it an old-world charm that is a refreshing change of pace from the beach and the mall. We strolled through this Historic Landmark District – which was founded by Vicente Martinez-Ybor as a cigar-manufacturing center – after rubbing elbows with Dennis Rodman, Tim Brown and couple Mattvillers that screamed “Hey, Matts!” at us from an outdoor restaurant and after  watching the Bolts get  blatantly bilked by the Phanatic’s Phlyers at the St. Pete Times Forum. By the way, this was one of the best places we’ve been to for the purposes of watching a hockey game. And despite the 6-1 score, this was a great hockey game. Broad Street Bully Braydon Coburn and Lightening fast Ryan Malone squared off in a duel that reminded us of Clint Eastwood staring down Yul Brenner. Instead of just wailing away at each, they nodded, willingly dropped their helmets like gunslingers drop the gun belts to go bare-knuckled and squared off. Here’s the clip . It was a game in which Tampa Bay had two goals disallowed, got screwed by the refs with lousy penalty calls and were subject to the jeers of the many Pennsylvanians in the building wearing Steelers garb. Those were the peeps we were interested in most. We talked hockey with guys wearing Bradshaw, Blier and Rothelesgeehgserer on their backs and swigged a few 22 oz brews while doing so. The coolest thing about the game was that the Lightening showed all replays on the impressive Jumbo Tron – even the ones in which the refs made the wrong call. That’s cool. They also showed replays of the fights. You never see that stuff at MSG where the corporate ownership is obsessively politically correct. Speaking of which, it was great hearing one of our favorite people, Phil Esposito, doing the color commentary while answering nature’s call – us, not Phil. All in all, it was a very entertaining experience for all, especially since the Bolts were wearing their alt jerseys with “BOLTS” across the front that matched our blue suits – so we were down with the homers. We’d highly recommend a night at ‘The Pete” – we made that up – in the middle of sparkling downtown that was seemingly designed by somebody with a brain. Who knows, it may be the best sporting event we see down here. At least the Cavs-Pistons will be on tomorrow. That’s all for today, sexy Rex O’Rourke tomorrow. We’re certain he’ll be just SUPER. P.s… Cards will be this year’s Giants and pop Pittsburgh.

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About The Matts 376 Articles started out as a NY Mets website and organically grew into an entity covering all professional sports. Our daily contributors, as diverse as they may be, share two important traits: -They toil for the "love of the game..." -They have a sense of humor. This is, after all, sports entertainment.