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


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

  1. Baseball's longest suffering fans


    Intriguing World Series match-up. You have the Giants, who are trying to win their third world championship in the past five years. On the other side, you have the Royals, who are making their first World Series appearance since winning it all in 1985. That also was the last time the Royals even made the playoffs. During the Royals' 8-0 run thus far in the postseason, we've seen just how passionate Royals fans can be. Up until now, they've been among the longest-suffering in baseball. The Royals still have four victories to go to totally satisfy their fans, but there are still other clubs with fans who have suffered longer and harder. Here's our pick of the 10 teams with the most suffering fans....

  2. Rays' loss of Friedman painful but not crippling



    Tuesday was not a good day for the Tampa Bay Rays. Let's just be perfectly clear about that. Andrew Friedman, the architect of the most successful era in the history of the organization, took his pie charts and spreadsheets and sharp eye for baseball to the greener pastures and greener dollars of Los Angeles. More than Evan Longoria, more than David Price, more than even manager Joe Maddon, Friedman meant more to the success of the Rays than any member of the organization. Friedman was the Rays' MVP. Taking over what might have been the worst franchise in all of sports and working on a shoestring budget, Friedman somehow patched together a team that had six consecutive winning seasons, appeared in four postseasons and even went to the World Series. And despite a losing record this past season, the Rays have enough building blocks in place to be a good team next season and beyond. The man most responsible for all of that just walked out the door, and there's absolutely no way to spin that into good news. But it doesn't mean the Rays are doomed. There's still plenty of reason for optimism and it starts with two words: Matt Silverman....

    One possible concern for the Rays: Will manager Joe Maddon, right, who has had a close working relationship with Andrew Friedman, follow him out the door if a more lucrative opportunity comes along?
  3. Lightning is Tampa Bay's last hope for an elite franchise

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Now that is how you do it.

    Big early season game against the previously undefeated team that knocked you out of the playoffs last season and you run them out of the building.

    Lightning 7, Canadiens 1.

    Your superstar scorer (Steven Stamkos) posts a hat trick and 12 (!) shots on goal. Your star goalie (Ben Bishop) makes a bunch of big-time saves. Your workhorse defenseman (Victor Hedman) scores for the third time in three games and adds three assists. Everyone showed up....

    Lightning center Steven Stamkos skates out onto the Amalie Arena ice after Monday night's game as he's intruduced as the No. 1 star of the game. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  4. Bucs' loss most embarrassing of season


    Most embarrassing

    This is unacceptable. Totally unworthy of your hard-earned money if you paid to go, equally unworthy of your time if you watched this three-hour debacle.

    You knew there were going to be rough patches, growing pains. You don't go from 4-12 to Super Bowl contender in a few months. But who gets beaten this badly in the NFL? This isn't college. Rarely do NFL teams get blasted the way Tampa Bay has been twice already. Three weeks after getting lit up 56-14 by the Falcons, it took another face-plant in Sunday's 48-17 loss to the Ravens....

    Phillip Thomas, 29, of Brandon, watches from the stands as the Bucs get dismantled by the Baltimore Ravens. "Horrible," Thomas called the game. "Very bad. Very very bad." [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  5. It hasn't been that great of late to be a Florida Gator


    GAINESVILLE — The words are painted in a brilliant blue with a bright orange backdrop. They form a phrase that has become the mantra for the University of Florida and all of those who love the football program.

    In the southeast corner of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field are these famous words:


    Not anymore. Not these days.

    These are lost times for Florida football, and now you can add another loss to it — Saturday night's heartbreaking 30-27 downer to LSU....

  6. Euphoric about Lightning opener against Panthers

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — One by one, they were introduced.

    Lightning coach Jon Cooper got a nice applause.

    Then came big cheers for forward Ryan Callahan and goalie Ben Bishop and defenseman Victor Hedman.

    The biggest ovation came for, of course, the captain and best player, Steven Stamkos.

    The newly named Amalie Arena was all decked out in its opening-night best, the crowd was revved up and the 2014-15 Lightning stood in a circle at center ice ready to take its first strides into what many anticipate to be a special hockey season in Tampa Bay....

    Lightning wing Ryan Callahan (24) celebrates his goal after beating Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo in the third period.
  7. Lightning navigates great expectations

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Sports Illustrated has the Lightning comfortably making the playoffs.

    The Hockey News, the self-proclaimed bible of hockey, has the Lightning reaching the Stanley Cup final. So do a couple of the hockey guys over at ESPN.

    You can even find a few so-called experts out there picking the Lightning to win the whole thing.

    Never before — even going back to that magical 2003-04 Stanley Cup-winning campaign — have expectations been this high going into a season for the Lightning....

    Jon Cooper is sure his players won’t fall victim to preseason hype that has hit Cup-winning levels.
  8. UF correct to suspend Treon Harris


    A terrible allegation. An appropriate response.

    This is how you do it.

    If you are looking for leadership, looking for responsibility, looking for how to do things the right way, the University of Florida is showing everyone how responsible leaders are supposed to act.

    Florida quarterback Treon Harris is being investigated in connection with an alleged sexual assault of a UF student early Sunday morning, just hours after rescuing the Gators season and, perhaps, saving coach Will Muschamp's job....

    Treon Harris seemed poised to start this week for UF.
  9. Bucs shoot themselves in the foot with penalties


    Worst loss

    Maybe instead of passing out playbooks in training camp, Bucs coach Lovie Smith should pass out a rules book.

    The Saints and QB Drew Brees were ripe to be taken out Sunday, and the Bucs let them wriggle off the hook because they have no concept of what you are and are not allowed to do in a football game. Grabbing face masks, hands to the face, holding, lining up wrong, not paying attention to the play clock. If it was illegal, the Bucs did it Sunday. They were flagged 15 times for 113 yards....

    Mike Glennon huddles with teammates Jorvorskie Lane (46) and Doug Martin (22) during the fourth quarter. [Getty Images]
  10. Sports memories fill Superdome


    Today the Bucs are in New Orleans to play the Saints in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Or, as we all simply call it: the Superdome. The famed stadium, sadly, is perhaps best known for being the last-resort shelter for thousands during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Since opening in 1975, the Superdome has hosted musical acts from the Rolling Stones to Johnny Cash to Beyonce. It has hosted Pope John Paul II, the Republican National Convention and Wrestlemania. And, naturally, it has been home to some of the greatest and most memorable moments in sports history. Here is our Two Cents picks for the most memorable sports moments of the Superdome:...

    Muhammad Ali celebrates with trainer Angelo Dundee after beating Leon Spinks to win the heavyweight boxing championship for the third time in his career.
  11. For Gators' Will Muschamp, Tennessee seems a must-win


    It wasn't all that long ago that a Florida-Tennessee showdown was one of the biggest games of the college football season.

    Not this year. In fact, it has been a while since this game truly mattered in the grand scheme of the SEC. Saturday's matchup in Knoxville likely will have no impact on the conference, let alone the national championship picture.

    But that doesn't mean this game has no implications. Actually, there's a lot riding on the outcome. What, exactly?...

    GAINESVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 01:  Jeff Driskel #6 of the Florida Gators attempts a pass during the game against the Bowling Green Falcons at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 1, 2012 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Jeff Driskel
  12. Bucs have a right to celebrate after breakthrough win


    TAMPA — One game, one win and, suddenly, everything is just peachy again.

    For a few minutes, it's easy to forget that the Bucs' problems still far outweigh their solutions.

    The offensive line continues to have issues. The injuries continue to pile up. There are still serious doubts about whether the new offensive coordinator knows what he is doing and whether the new/old/new quarterback has what it takes to be a consistently good NFL starter....

    "It felt good,''  Lovie Smith said of his first win as head coach of the Bucs. "It's a feeling you want to have again.'' [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]
  13. Mike Glennon should be Bucs' starter from now on


    Best choice

    The Bucs have themselves a starting quarterback.

    In the NFL, you're not supposed to lose your job because of injury, and the only reason Mike Glennon started Sunday was because starter Josh McCown is hurt.

    Forget tradition. This isn't about losing a job to injury. It's about losing a job because someone else is better. There is no controversy here. Glennon, not McCown, should start. From now on....

    There is no controversy here. Mike Glennon, and not Josh McCown, should be the starter. From now on. [Getty Images]
  14. Jeff Tedford's absence puts Bucs in a bad position



    Time to start chewing some fingernails. This has all the makings of being a fiasco.

    The Bucs offense is now in the hands of a backup quarterback and, here's the spooky part, a backup offensive coordinator.

    Marcus Arroyo doesn't have the official title, but he has all of the responsibility of being the Bucs' offensive coordinator. He's now in charge of calling the plays for a Bucs team that isn't reminding anyone of the "Greatest Show on Turf."...

    Marcus Arroyo
  15. Start makes it clear that Bucs are in rebuilding mode


    TAMPA — This is what rebuilding looks like. This is what happens when you are starting over.

    You get beat by a backup quarterback. Then you get beat by a backup-to-a-backup quarterback.

    Then you go on the road against a pretty good team and get your doors blown off. You get beaten so badly that a national television audience wonders if you're the absolute worst team that plays games on 100-yard fields....

    Since general manager Jason Licht and coach Lovie Smith, pictured, took over in January, the Bucs have made 218 transactions. [Getty Images]