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Martin Fennelly, Times Sports Columnist

Martin Fennelly

Martin Fennelly is a sports columnist for the Tampa Bay Times. He was born in New York City, raised on Long Island and was sitting in the bleachers at Yankee Stadium, minding his own business, when Reggie Jackson hit three home runs in one night to beat the Dodgers in the 1977 World Series. Prior to joining the Times, he worked as a columnist for the Tampa Tribune, St. Louis Sun and Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Martin graduated from the University of Albany, where he studied history, and attended the University of Missouri Graduate School of Journalism. He lives in Lutz with his wife, Siobhan, their children, Conor and Norah, and, at present, five cats.

Phone: (727) 893-8495

  1. Fennelly: Dirk Koetter's apology no way to keep this fidget spinning


    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....

    This tweet from the Bucs, mocking the Falcons' 28-3 lead they lost in the Super Bowl against the Falcons, prompted a public apology from head coach Dirk Koetter, who called it "unprofessional and not smart."
  2. Fennelly: This season's Chris Archer is a pleasure to watch

    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....

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) throwing in the first inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, May 21, 2017.
  3. Hey, somebody really ought to write about this Aaron Judge guy


    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....

    Aaron Judge stunned the Rays with a diving, game-saving catch in the sixth inning of Yankees 3-2 win Sunday at Tropicana Field.
  4. Before she was a Tampa legend, Gayle Sierens was an NFL trailblazer


    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....

    Gayle Sierens, former Tampa Bay news and sports anchor, pictured with the spotting chart she made and used for her game back in December 1987 between the Kansas City Chiefs and Seattle Seahawks. Sierens was pictured at her house in South Tampa Tuesday (05/16/17). Sierens became the first woman to ever do play-by-play for an NFL broadcast in 1987. Sierens talked about that experience in light of last week's news that ESPN has assigned Beth Mowins to do the same for an NFL game on Monday Night Football in Week 1 of the 2017 season. Mowins is the first woman to do so since Sierens.
  5. ESPN's Beth Mowins : 'I've been doing Monday Night Football since I was knee high'


    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....

  6. Brace yourself: LaVar Ball and Showtime are about to collide


    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....

    LaVar Ball, left, is putting a lot of pressure on his son Lonzo, right, with grandiose statements and by announcing a Big Baller Brand shoe for Lonzo that costs $495 a pair. [Associated Press]
  7. Fennelly: Lessons from a Lightning-less NHL playoffs

    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....

    PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 13:  Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins looks to face off against the Ottawa Senators during the second period in Game One of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG PAINTS Arena on May 13, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) 700047961
  8. Meet the Rays coach picked ahead of Derek Jeter

    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."...

    Tampa Bay Rays hitting coach Chad Mottola talks to a player during batting practice before their baseball game against the New York Yankees Friday, Sept. 9, 2016, at Yankee Stadium in New York.
  9. Fennelly: Rays are on verge of something, and it's not good

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Is this the trap door?

    Is this the trap door for Kevin Cash and the Rays?

    It's early.

    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....

    Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) reacts to taking astride in the bottom of the third inning of Friday???‚??„?s (5/5/17) game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Toronto Blue Jays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.
  10. 16-0 shows us it's a Cavs-Warriors world



    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....

    LeBron James, right, drives past Kevin Durant.
  11. Take a ride with a big Bucs lineman who lived in his SUV


    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....

    Defensive tackle Stevie Tu'ikolovatu is seen during the first day of rookie mini-camp at the team's practice facility, One Buccaneer Place, in Tampa, Fla., on Friday, May 5, 2017.
  12. Fennelly: Fans shouldn't tolerate hate speech at the ballpark

    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....

    The denunciation of the racist taunts the Orioles’ Adam Jones endured at Fenway Park is a positive, but it can’t stop there.
  13. USF, Charlie Strong scrambling after another player arrest


    USF football has had prouder days than Wednesday. So has the new head coach, Charlie Strong.

    Bad scene.

    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."...

  14. Alton Voss' story seemed like an NFL dream come true, until it didn't


    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....

    Grand Valley State University's Alton Voss (87) blocks a punt during a game versus Colorado State-Pueblo during the 2nd round of the NCAA D2 playoffs.

Photo credit: Grand Valley State University athletic department.
  15. Fennelly: Circumstances of Jose Fernandez's death make statue a bad idea

    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....

    Associated Press