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Tom Jones, Times Sports Columnist

Tom Jones

Tom Jones writes columns and television/radio commentary for the Tampa Bay Times' Sports section. He has covered everything from high schools to colleges to professional sports since starting with the St. Petersburg Evening Independent in 1986. After the Independent, Tom worked at the Times (1987-91), the Tampa Tribune (1991-96), the Times again (1996-2000), the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (2000-03) and returned for his third stint at the Times in 2003. Though he has covered all sports, Tom is a hockey writer at heart. He covered the Tampa Bay Lightning from its first game in 1992 until moving to Minnesota to cover the Wild for three years. He returned to the Times again to cover the Lightning until taking over as writer and editor for Page Two in 2006. He lists Herb Brooks, Lou Piniella and Wayne Gretzky as the most interesting personalities he has covered and the 2002 Winter Olympics as the best event he has covered. Tom co-hosts a sports talk show weekday mornings from 6-9 on WDAE 620-AM, 95.3-FM. He previously hosted a weekly sports roundtable show on Bright House Sports Network.

Phone: (727) 893-8544

Email: tjones@tampabay.com

Radio talk show (620-AM, 95.3-FM): Listen live

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  1. Rays just don't feel like playoff team

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was one month ago to the day that I used this space to essentially write the Rays off for 2015.

    The offense was sputtering as it always does. The starting pitching was showing a few cracks. The bullpen was leaking oil.

    The Rays were exactly .500 and 3½ games back in the wild-card race. They certainly weren't out of it, but it didn't feel like they were in it, either....

    ST. PETERSBURG, FL - AUGUST 26:  Pitcher Chris Archer #22 of the Tampa Bay Rays fails to haul in the bunt single by Brian Dozier #2 of the Minnesota Twins during the seventh inning of a game on August 26, 2015 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images) 538592515
  2. This preseason performance does count, sort of

    Bucs

    TAMPA — The NFL preseason is a complete waste of time.

    The games don't count, so the results are meaningless. Teams rarely break out all of their tricks, so the performances are worthless. For the most part, the guys playing a bulk of the games won't be playing on 100-yard professional football fields much longer.

    In fact, not only are the games inconsequential, they can be hazardous. Ask the Packers, who lost top receiver Jordy Nelson for the year after he tore his knee in a preseason game. Ask the Steelers, who lost center Maurkice Pouncey in the same game with an ankle injury. Ask all the teams who have seen seasons shattered with major injuries to significant players in insignificant games....

    Bucs rookie quarterback Jameis Winston helps give Monday’s game some rare preseason importance.
  3. Tom Jones' shooting from the lip

    Sports

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back and the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Biggest surprise

    Before the season, I predicted that Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez would have a decent season: 20 homers and 70 RBIs. Well, he's blowing through those projections. He has 26 homers and 69 RBIs. He's on pace for 34 and 91 — incredible numbers for a 40-year-old who sat out all of last season after being suspended for PEDs....

  4. Parents plague youth sports more than participation trophies

    Bucs

    So now we know what's wrong with kids these days: Trophies. Steelers linebacker James Harrison thinks so. He refused to keep trophies given to his sons, ages 6 and 8, for participating in a youth league. Harrison wrote on Instagram: "While I am very proud of my boys for everything they do and will encourage them till the day I die, these trophies will be given back until they EARN a real trophy. I'm sorry I'm not sorry for believing that everything in life should be earned, and I'm not about to raise two boys to be men by making them believe that they are entitled to something just because they tried their best." Harrison isn't alone. An HBO Real Sports feature last month suggested we are raising a generation of spoiled, entitled, arrogant brats because we award them with trophies just for showing up, even if they finish last. Many out there agree. This is crazy....

    Just this week, a Little League softball team lost on purpose to avoid playing another team that could beat them. [KIRO -- Seattle via NDN]
  5. FSU's Jimbo Fisher looks to put bumpy offseason behind him

    College

    It hasn't been the best of offseasons for Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher.

    He lost 11 stars to the NFL draft, including his Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, Jameis Winston, who is now trying to rescue the Bucs.

    Off the field, things got uglier when Fisher's players started slapping around women.

    A projected team leader, quarterback De'Andre Johnson, was kicked off the team after a video surfaced of him punching a woman at a bar. Then Fisher's best running back, Dalvin Cook, was suspended after reports he hit a woman outside a Tallahassee bar....

    In this Dec. 6, 2014, file photo, Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher kisses the trophy after defeating Georgia Tech in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game in Charlotte, N.C. [AP photo]
  6. Tom Jones' shooting from the lip

    Sports

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best criticism

    I hope local baseball fans realize how lucky we are to have Brian Anderson calling Rays games on Sun Sports. There can't be many baseball color commentators better than BA. Loaded with personality, Anderson is funny, open and engaging, and best of all, he has a high baseball IQ with the ability to share what he knows with the viewer....

  7. For starters, Jameis Winston all over the map

    Bucs

    MINNEAPOLIS — For a quarter and a half, the best thing you could have said about Jameis Winston's debut with the Bucs is that it didn't count.

    Good thing. The kid was lousy.

    Seven drives. Nine passes. Just two completions. An interception that led to a Vikings score. A couple of botched snaps. A mere four first downs.

    Not exactly the start Bucs fans wanted to see from the young man charged with saving the franchise....

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston throws against the Minnesota Vikings during the first half of a preseason NFL football game Saturday, Aug. 15, 2015, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone) MNPS107
  8. Jones: For NFL, it's not all bad. Check the bottom line.

    Bucs

    I'm starting to wonder why, exactly, we all love the National Football League so much.

    If it's not a player hitting his fiancee (Ray Rice), then it's another hitting a child (Adrian Peterson). If it's not a player accused of hitting his girlfriend (Greg Hardy), then it's a player definitely hitting a teammate (the former Jets backup who punched out QB Geno Smith).

    There's Aldon Smith, released by the 49ers last week after numerous arrests for DUI, hit-and-run, felony weapon possession, firing shots in the air and just general bad behavior. There's last week's Hall of Fame induction, which had a somber feel because inductee Junior Seau was not there. He's dead from having committed suicide, perhaps the result of a brain disease caused by repeated blows to the head, a topic that continues to cast a dark cloud over the sport's future....

    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 21:  Quarterback Geno Smith #7 of the New York Jets looks on from the sideline against the New England Patriots during a game at MetLife Stadium on December 21, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
  9. Kevin Cash is the perfect manager for Rays

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Let's say we were naming the best managers in baseball right now. Who would be No. 1?

    There are plenty of good ones out there — San Francisco's Bruce Bochy, Cleveland's Terry Francona, Mike Scioscia of the Angels and Mike Matheny of the Cardinals among them.

    But the best? I'd say Joe Maddon. Look at what he did with the Rays. Look at what he's doing with the Cubs. Players love him. Fans love him. What's not to love? He's cool, interesting, smart. He's a winner....

    Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash (16) watching the action during the game between the Cleveland Indians and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Tuesday, June 30, 2015.
  10. Tom Jones' shooting from the lip

    Sports

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Biggest loss

    The world of sports lost a legend Sunday when Frank Gifford passed away from natural causes at his home in Connecticut. He was 84.

    Gifford was a Hall of Fame football star with the Giants in the 1950s and '60s, but most remember him best for being a groundbreaking broadcaster. What made him special? He was one of the rare former athletes who spent much of his broadcasting career as a play-by-play announcer instead of a color commentator....

    Tom Brady
  11. Outreach to women stings Bucs unfairly

    Bucs

    TAMPA

    The mob started to gather on the Internet shortly after the news release went out about 9 o'clock Thursday morning. And I must admit that I immediately started looking for my pitchfork and torch, too.

    Let's hunt down those idiot Tampa Bay Buccaneers!

    Then a funny thing happened. I talked to some folks. I thought long and hard. And I realized that the Bucs, always low-hanging fruit for critics, really didn't do much wrong....

    The Bucs are trying to attract as many female fans as possible with their new outreach initiative.
  12. Bucs' Doug Martin knows it's time to perform

    Bucs

    TAMPA

    We could be nice. We could ease into this thing by talking about how hard Doug Martin worked in the offseason to become leaner, stronger and faster. • We could talk about that easy smile or his aw-shucks, I'm-just-here-to-help-the-team humility. Maybe throw in an anecdote about signing autographs to show he remains a fan favorite. • But let's get straight to it, shall we? • When you talk about the Bucs running back, the first place — really, the only place — to start is here: • Hey Doug, you any good anymore? • Or, to be even more blunt: What the heck happened to you? • Martin gets it. He knows what we're talking about. • "This league," Martin said, "is about what have you done for me lately?" • Lately, Martin hasn't done much....

    Doug Martin is a long way from a rookie year in which he finished fifth in the NFL with 1,454 rushing yards.
  13. Lovie Smith's timetable for better Bucs is short

    Bucs

    TAMPA

    Sixteen games. That's all it took.

    Sixteen games to use up all the mulligans Lovie Smith might have had when he took over as coach of the Bucs.

    Sixteen games to go from honeymoon to hot seat. That's the way it works in the NFL. That's the way it works when you take a bad team and somehow make it worse.

    That's what happens when you are the coach of officially the worst team in the NFL....

    “We have the same goals” as last year, Bucs coach Lovie Smith says: winning the opener, winning the NFC South and winning the Super Bowl.
  14. Arrogance deflates opinion of Patriots

    Bucs

    This is for you, Patriots fans.

    It's not that people outside of New England hate the Patriots because they are too good. They hate them because they are too arrogant.

    Too arrogant. Too smug. Too full of themselves.

    They are a great organization, no doubt. A tremendous team, for sure. Best ever? Yeah, maybe.

    No question, however, they are the biggest self-entitled whiners in the history of sports....

    Patriots quarterback Tom Brady didn’t seem to take accusations of deflated footballs very seriously at first.
  15. Jones: Punchless Rays should be sellers at trade deadline

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Here we are again.

    Days away from a trade deadline, and the Rays are in baseball purgatory. Not quite good enough to feel optimistic about their playoff chances and not so bad that they can be completely counted out.

    This is starting to become an annual quandary with the Rays. Should they be buyers or sellers? Go for it or pack it in? Trade for now or trade for the future?...

    WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times Veterans such as outfielder David DeJesus can’t do the Rays much good this season except as trade bait.