TAMPA — It all began with a fidget spinner.
And when the fidget stopped spinning, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter, who is on the record as saying he wants a "badass" football team, was apologizing to his former team, the defending NFC champion Atlanta Falcons.
What a killjoy. An apology? What fun is that?
What is this, a NATO summit?
And didn't the Falcons troll first?
Ah, the famous Falcons fidget-spinner flap....
05/22/17 The Heater
At this time last season, through 10 starts, Rays pitcher Chris Archer was 3-5 on his way to 9-19.
At this time this season, after his 10th start, Archer is 3-3 with a 3.76 ERA.
This feels different. It feels encouraging.
So far, pretty good.
At least that's how Sunday looked at Tropicana Field, despite Archer being on the hook for a second straight loss, this one 3-2 to the Yankees....
He can catch, too.
It's no tall tale.
Aaron Judge, The Amazing Colossal Man, has come and gone, but not before he stunned the Rays with a diving, game-saving catch in the sixth inning of Yankees 3-2 win Sunday at Tropicana Field. The 6-foot-7, 282-pound Judge robbed Evan Longoria of an RBI double and helped double off Corey Dickerson. Best catch of the year to go with all those home runs....
TAMPA — It's in a picture frame on a wall in Gayle Sierens' South Tampa home, a home she and her husband have mostly filled with photographs of their three children. But there are photos of Sierens with Pope John Paul II, with Laura Bush, with Oprah, with Bobby Bowden, with Arnold Palmer, part of her long broadcasting career at WFLA-Ch. 8, including 29 years as a news co-anchor. Sierens, a two-time Emmy winner, retired in 2015 as one of the best-known names and faces in Tampa Bay....
In September, ESPN broadcaster Beth Mowins will become the second woman to call play-by-play of a regular-season NFL game, the first since Gayle Sierens in 1987. Mowins, a native of Syracuse, N.Y., was captain of the basketball team while attending Lafayette College and earned a master's degree from Syracuse University's Newhouse School of Public Communications. She has been working as a play-by-play announcer since her days doing Syracuse women's basketball. She has been calling college football since 2004 and is entering her third season as the preseason play-by-play voice of the Oakland Raiders. She spoke by phone from her home in San Diego....
LaVar Ball, the new clown prince of player parents, is at it again. When isn't he? There might not be a person who needs to be windmill slam dunked more than the father of former star UCLA freshman Lonzo Ball.
And I'll be all for it … when I stop laughing.
This loon is triple-double entertaining. And a marketing genius. His son's college career ended two months ago, the NBA playoffs are going on, but we're still following the Balls. I know I am. I can't help it....
05/15/17 Lightning Strikes
We're more than a month into the Stanley Cup playoffs. It's heaven for fans. Hockey's version of the forced march has been packed with stories, like the Nashville Predators' run to the Western Conference final, the star power of Oilers star Connor McDavid, the Caps holding off Auston Matthews and Toronto, the annual Caps fold, overtime games galore, comebacks galore, mayhem galore, galore galore....
05/12/17 The Heater
ST. PETERSBURG — Rays hitting coach Chad Mottola is used to the jokes, especially at baseball draft time. He laughs at them. He's a great sport. His personal favorite is when he is asked if the New York Yankees still send him Christmas cards.
"It's a good way for guys to get on me," Mottola said. "It's something that's been with me my whole career, but at this point it's entertaining and a compliment. I like to have fun in this game. The game is evil enough, cruel enough. And there are worse guys to be associated with."...
05/10/17 The Heater
ST. PETERSBURG — Is this the trap door?
Is this the trap door for Kevin Cash and the Rays?
But there was buffoonery on Monday, 16 more strikeouts and four errors in a loss to the Royals. Then came Tuesday, when the Rays went up 4-0 in the first inning but came back to lose 7-6 to the Royals in 12 innings. They have blown a lead in 14 of their losses. Tim Beckham struck out — a Rays trademark — to finish it....
That's your NBA, kids.
That's the combined record of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors as they hop, skip and jump through the NBA playoffs.
They seem destined to meet in a third consecutive NBA Finals.
Can we get some older story lines here?
Yeah, it's the rubber match (they've split the first two Finals) and there's a fresh slant: Kevin Durant....
TAMPA — He didn't live in a van down by the river.
Let's get that straight.
He lived in an SUV down by the beach.
"Not homeless, just a choice," Stevie Tu'ikolovatu said with a smile.
Tu'ikolovatu — "Stevie T." to Bucs players and coaches who gave up trying to pronounce his name last weekend at rookie minicamp — is a big man (340 pounds) with a bigger dream: playing in the NFL. The former run-stuffing Utah defensive tackle and USC graduate transfer was selected in the seventh round of the draft by the Bucs....
05/04/17 The Heater
ST. PETERSBURG — There have been encouraging signs since Monday night, when Orioles outfielder Adam Jones was pelted with racial slurs at Fenway Park.
There were the apologies to Jones and condemnations of the incident, from the Red Sox to the mayor of Boston to the governor of Massachusetts to the commissioner of baseball. And there was the loud ovation that Jones received from Red Sox fans as he stepped to the plate for the first time Tuesday night....
USF football has had prouder days than Wednesday. So has the new head coach, Charlie Strong.
Circuit judge Margaret Taylor, a USF graduate, tore into USF player LaDarrius Jackson, who was arrested Monday night on charges of sexual battery and false imprisonment of another student in a residence hall.
Then Taylor let Strong have it, too.
"This court, and I'm sure I'm not alone, questions whether you have control over your players," Taylor said of Strong. "It's fairly clear that you do not have control of them off the field. ... I would implore you to think long and hard about whether being coach at USF is a good fit before any other members of our community have to suffer at the hands of one of your players."...
Alton Voss, former Gulf High quarterback legend, owns a remarkable story, the kind they make books and movies about. He won his biggest battle. That remains true, even if Voss, the longest of long shots, came up short of his biggest dream.
He wasn't drafted into the NFL last weekend. No surprise there. But Voss thought he had a chance at being signed as an undrafted free agent and invited to a rookie minicamp. Dozens of players got the call after the draft ended last Saturday night, including several of Voss' former teammates at Division II Grand Valley State in Michigan. No NFL team talked directly to Voss. Not one....
05/01/17 The Heater
The Rays are in Miami tonight to play the Marlins. The Marlins will be at Tropicana Field on Wednesday.
It won't be the same.
Jose Fernandez won't be there.
Even that's not the same anymore.
There is still mourning over the loss of the former Alonso High and Marlins star pitcher, who died September in a boat accident.
It will always be a tragedy. But, after all the tears, there's more. A painful amount. An uncomfortable amount....