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Tom Jones' Two Cents

Sports analysis, perspective and more.

Did it just get cooler in here?

He has a ball. Now all he needs is a belt. Check out this Rays fan picking up a foul ball Wednesday afternoon the Trop.

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Two Cents' Stanley Cup preview

cup.The Stanley Cup finals get underway Wednesday night with the Devils hosting the Kings. Here's our Two Cents' preview:

Who won the season series?
The Devils won both meetings in typical Devils fashion: 2-1 in a shootout in New Jersey and 3-0 in Los Angeles, but pay no attention to those results. The games were played way back in October. They were different teams back then. New Jersey was 12-12-1 through Dec. 3, then went 36-16-5 the rest of the way. The Kings were 15-14-4 when coach Darryl Sutter took over and stormed back into the playoff race with a 25-13-11 record. Also, Johan Hedberg was New Jersey's goalie of record in both games. Unless something goes drastically wrong for the Devils, Hedberg will not play in this series. …

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Shooting from the lip/May 28th edition

Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...

destrade.Best postgame
All season I haven't been sure how to feel about the Rays' postgame television show for road games. Postgame shows for home games come from Tropicana Field; road game shows originate from a studio in South Florida. The latter shows feel detached from everything and just, well, weird. I admit there is no difference whether the studio is in St. Petersburg, Tampa or South Florida, but for some reason it feels odd that the show is coming from neither the site of the game nor where the Rays call home.

Todd Kalas does a splendid job on the home games and running the interviews from road games. It's great to see replays and hear the postgame comments from manager Joe Maddon and the players, and the thoughts of announcers Dewayne Staats and Brian Anderson. But many nights the analysis and work of road postgame hosts Barry LeBrock and Orestes Destrade is either scratch-the-surface stuff or way too "inside baseball.'' Overall, the road postgame shows have been, oh, about a B-minus. …

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Could Tampa be home to BCS title game?

hancock.A college football playoff seems to be on the way and Tampa seems to have all the necessary ingredients to host a BCS title game. Who says? BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock.

Hancock joined Rick Stroud and I on WDAE-AM 620 this morning and was asked if Tampa could be in the mix to someday host college football's national championship game.

"I love the Stadium in Tampa, I've been there many times," Hanccock said. "When you look at a city you look at the sports venue, but you also look at the hotels, and the willingness of the people in the community to put it on, Tampa Bay's got everything. It bats a thousand as far as I'm concerned."

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MLB Network analyst Mitch Williams rips the Trop

williams.MLB Network analyst and former big-league pitcher Mitch "Wild Thing'' Williams ripped into the Trop on Thursday, calling it a "bad stadium'' and saying it was the reason the Rays are struggling at the gate. Appearing on WDAE-AM 620 with Rick Stroud and myself, Williams was asked why the Rays can't draw more fans.

"It's simple: the stadium,'' Williams said.

When asked if it was the location of the stadium, Williams said, "It's just a bad stadium. It's not someplace nice where you are going to say, 'Let's load up the family and go. The kids can have fun. There are different areas where the kids can go play.' It's just a bad stadium.''

Attendance across the majors is up slightly so far this season over last season, but the Rays are averaging 19,799 -- better than only the A's (19,077) and Indians (16,084).

Asked if he would be bothered to play in front of such small crowds on a regular basis, Williams said, "Yeah it would bother me. It bothers every player. You play the game for yourself, but you draw adrenaline from your fan base.''

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Over/under on Bucs win this season

bucs.So, how many games will the Bucs win in 2012? If we said "six,'' would you take the over or the under? Cantor Gaming put out its over-under on victory totals for all NFL teams and, while we would be shocked, shocked (!) that anyone gambles on such things, it is interesting to note that it has the Bucs over/under win total set at six. Six would be a two-game improvement on last season. Two teams (Rams, Vikings) also have an over/under of six. Only three teams have a lower over/under. The Browns, Colts and Jaguars are set at 5 1/2. The Packers and Patriots lead the way with an over/under of 12.

Click here for the complete list.

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Video: Jones, Stroud host WDAE morning show

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Times' Stroud, Jones to host WDAE morning show


Tampa Bay Times sportswriters Tom Jones and Rick Stroud will star in a new weekday morning show for sports radio station WDAE-AM (620), sparking a closer alliance between the newspaper and station owner Clear Channel Radio. The pair begin hosting their three-hour show at 6 a.m. Tuesday, taking the time slot once held by Dan Sileo.

Read the full story here.

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Shooting from the lip/May 21st edition

Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...

fuld.Best coverage, with one complaint
Sun Sports gets credit for trying something a little different for Sunday's broadcast of the Rays-Braves game. The broadcast was dubbed "Sabermetrics Sunday.'' The network spent most of the pregame show and game teaching fans about sabermetrics, the use of formulas and numbers to measure and, perhaps, predict what happens in a game. Many teams such as the Rays use these numbers to form lineups and rosters that they believe give them the best chance to compete.

Elaborate statistics such as OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage), WAR (wins above replacement) and FIP (fielding independent pitching) were defined and explained. Injured Rays outfielder Sam Fuld, who studied economics at Stanford, joined announcers Dewayne Staats and Brian Anderson in the booth to help put sabermetrics into perspective, and he had an absolutely great line about how it all works.

"It doesn't tell the whole story, but it helps to tell the story better,'' Fuld said. "There will always be a human element to the game.'' …

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Shooting from the lip/May 14th edition

Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...

miller.Best coverage
NBC again gets the nod for best sporting event coverage of the weekend. Some weekends, it's because of its stellar hockey coverage. Last week, it was because of its must-see Kentucky Derby broadcast. This past weekend, it was its work on golf's Players Championship.

NBC can just hand Johnny Miller a microphone, let him talk and you have the best golf coverage on TV, as far as I'm concerned. Sprinkle in a little Dottie Pepper from the course, add a dose of contributor Tim Rosaforte and you can just lose your remote for the afternoon because there is no reason to change the channel.

Let's get back to Miller. Everything he says is of interest to me. He criticizes golfers and praises them, too. He questions them and compliments them. He scolds them, makes fun of them and cheers them on. All of those elements were on display over the weekend, and it's a sign of someone with absolutely no agenda. His mission appears to be to say what’s on his mind. Hmm, I would say that also is the mission of a top analyst. …

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Tired, tedious topics

Last week a blogger for Time magazine listed Tropicana Field as the third-worst sports venue in the country. My immediate reaction: Yeah, I know. The Trop stinks. I get it already. The Rays have been playing there since 1998, and other than rearranging some furniture and a few coats of paint, the Trop is pretty much the same dump it has always been. And this blogger is just now weighing in? Even the team that plays there is begging for a new stadium, so why do we have to keep talking about how crummy this one is? We're just going around and around. Anyway, can anyone other than St. Petersburg’s mayor stick up for the Trop with a straight face?

This whole thing has been beaten to death. Here are some other sports debates, arguments and statements we're sick of hearing. …

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Hawiian surfer rides biggest wave ever

Garrett McNamara of Hawaii has been recognized as the Guinness World Record holder for biggest wave ever surfed, according to NBC Sports. In November, McNamara rode a wave of 78 feet at the Praia do Norte beach in Nazare, Portugal.

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Did leagues get suspensions right?

Sports leagues always have used suspensions as punishments and deterrents for players who step over the lines of fair play. But recently, suspensions have become especially prevalent. Here's a look at notable current suspensions in each of the four major sports and whether the leagues got it right.

hamels.Cole Hamels
The Phillies pitcher was suspended five games for plunking Nationals 19-year-old rookie Bryce Harper in the back with a pitch just to welcome him to the majors.

Players policing themselves is not necessarily a bad thing. A slugger showing up a pitcher by admiring a home run should answer for it with a little frontier justice. But in this particular case, Harper didn't deserve it. He has done nothing in the majors (other than playing well) to warrant having a message sent his way. Plus, who died and left Cole Hamels in charge of baseball? …

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Thursday: Chat live with Tom Jones

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Shooting from the lip/May 7th edition

Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...

kentucky.Best coverage
Here's how you know something on television is really, really good: When you don't care all that much about the subject matter, yet you can't change the channel. That's how I feel about NBC's horse racing coverage, and in particular, the Kentucky Derby. Horse racing? I can take it or leave it. NBC's coverage of horse racing? I can't miss it.

Saturday's coverage of the Kentucky Derby will end up on the short list of the best sports television of the year. NBC expertly walks the fine line between making the show informative to avid horse racing fans, yet fun for the large majority who won't watch another horse race the rest of the year. And it did that for a pregame show that was more than three hours long. It's hard to make anything interesting for three hours, but NBC, led by incomparable host Bob Costas, did that by keeping the pace quick and offering fun and unexpected features. …

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